Though two cases hardly amount to a trend, recent decisions by two British retail chains to downplay the role of IT management may send shivers down the spines of at least a few CIOs.
Department store House of Fraser has no plans to replace its recently retired IT director, reports silicon.com. The CFO will become the boss for the outgoing exec's two direct reports. At John Lewis, another British retail chain, the director of computer services is now reporting directly to the CFO.
The outright elimination of a CIO role is a far bigger worry than the longstanding concern over to whom the CIO reports -- with most folks contending that CIOs reporting to a CFO rather than a CEO is a sign that companies see IT as less than strategic.
It's not clear whether the companies' decisions were simply motivated by a current lack of major new IT projects or are a sign of a broader disillusionment with IT management.
A corporate headhunter interviewed by silicon.com says retailers in the UK appear to be dividing themselves into two camps: those who hire top talent because "they are looking at technology to deliver the exciting future of retail" and those who "try to bring in cheap senior IT people or hunt around internally."