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CIOs and CDOs should aim to make their roles redundant, says MoJ’s Tom Read

CIOs and CDOs should aspire to make their roles redundant in the next five years, the chief digital and information officer of the MoJ Tom Read has said.

Delivering the opening speech of Cloud Expo Europe, Read said the traditional tasks of IT leaders, such as building core applications and networks, would not be required in five years’ time.

“Everything is becoming a commodity or utility,” he said. “So the number of teams you need building software is becoming smaller and smaller. Ten years ago CRM required you to build a niche piece of software. Now everyone buys Salesforce.”

With employees increasing working on their own devices, Read said firms would not need to procure as much hardware in the coming years: “People have better computers in their pockets than the black laptops you’ve given them.”

The significance of digital departments, suggested Read, will also decline as modernisation programmes transform the way employees across the business work: “Digital is an adjective not a noun. There shouldn’t really be a digital department. What we’re trying to do is build a core and educate the rest of the team. In a few year’s time there will be digital capability everywhere.”

The MoJ has moved a number of its public services into the cloud during Read’s tenure. The offices of the Public Guardian have been moved to Amazon Web Services, while the Prison and Probation Service and the Legal Aid Agency have been migrated to Microsoft Azure. He said: “If we can put prison services on the cloud, most businesses should be able to use it.”

The IT leader, who previously served as CTO at the Cabinet Office and the then Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, also revealed he had come under pressure from procurement officials to diversify his pool of cloud suppliers.

“We get a lot of challenge from procurement on why do you buy just Azure and AWS. Don’t you need to be fair and let everyone in the market come to the table? It’s really hard because the answer is: they’re better.”