Human being in the digital world: lessons from the past for future CIOs


Ho consegnato il testo del mio capitolo di un libro collettivo sul futuro del ruolo del Chief Information Officer, nel nuovo contesto determinato dalla ‘Rivoluzione digitale’.
Il CIO si trova di fronte ad un significativo mutamento. Tra i manager ‘C level’ è certo il più attrezzato per intendere cosa stia succedendo. Ma allo stesso tempo la posizione del CIO è anche minacciata dall’avvento di nuove figure abbastanza fumose: Digital Strategist e simili.
Il libro, frutto di una iniziativa di Finaki Italia uscirà a breve presso Springer, a cura di Giorgio Bongiorno, Daniele Rizzzo, Giovanni Vaia, con il titolo CIOs and the Digital Transformation. A New Leadership Role.

Nel mio testo -Human being in the digital world: lessons from the past for future CIOs- che appare nel libro come capitolo iniziale, disegno il percorso -tecnologico, ma in senso più ampio storico e culturale- che porta all’avvento del ‘mondo digitale’. Per cogliere il passaggio, dobbiamo risalire agli Anni Sessanta del secolo scorso. Sono anche gli anni in cui si affermava la figura che oggi definiamo CIO.
La Rivoluzione che stiamo vivendo porta gli esseri umani -cittadini, lavoratori, consumatori- ad abitare piattaforme digitali. Il CIO si trova a dover garantire che gli esseri umani non siano ridotti, nella nuova condizione, a meri utenti di un mondo totalmente progettato.

Di seguito potete leggere un breve estratto di uno dei paragrafi iniziali

A humanistic stance
Being Digital, an essay by Nicholas Negroponte, came out in 1995. This work marked a turning point: the term digital left the technical lexicon of the Computer Science field and entered daily language.
Digital: an adjective that distinguishes one type of machine from another.
During the 1930s and 1940s, two different types of computers existed: Digital Computer and Analog Computer. While the Analog Computer continuously measured the advancement of a process, the Digital Computer worked under a binary numeral system, in which data was converted into strings of 0 and 1. Analog Computing has not disappeared, but the machines that we know and use today are Digital Computers. These digital computers are based on the abstract idea of the Turing Machine, proposed by Alan Turing and the digital machine architecture proposed by von Neumann.
Since the 1990s, however, digital is not used only in relation with machines, but also with people. People are invited to be digital. Negroponte wrote: until now, man has lived in a physical world, surrounded by material things. Now, we must prepare ourselves to live in a digital world.
Bits—the smallest unit of information, expressed in binary code—are rapidly replacing things made of atoms. If we continue to pursue this lifestyle of bits, not atoms, Negroponte notes, the life of humans, who are becoming increasingly interconnected by computers, will never be the same.
Consequently, the role of Information & Communication Technology Director, more recently known as the Chief Information Officer, must evolve.
Traditionally, the CIO has worked with bits, data, and information. He considered humans as only being the users of machines and programs. The current digital scenario represents a new terrain on which people live and work. For this digital world to be more livable for people, adequate for their needs, and respectful of their rights, a new type of CIO is needed. It is no longer sufficient to have someone who concerns himself with only bits, data, and information; the CIO must be capable of hybridizing different fields of knowledge and action. Of course, he will need technical knowledge regarding the appropriate systems, infrastructure, hardware, and software. These hard skills, however, must be combined with soft skills in sociology, psychology, and ethnography.1 Generally speaking, the CIO is called to take a humanistic stance to his technical position; this new position should be based on wisdom and mindfulness.2 The CIO is, first and foremost, a human like all others.