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Accenture CIO Modruson Is Not Just Putting Out Fires

Accenture CIO Modruson Is Not Just Putting Out Fires

Accenture CIO Frank Modruson is surrounded by IT experts, but the part-time firefighter still finds time to think about new approaches to collaboration

Such systems can also help IT justify budgets, he believes. "There's always pressure to do more for less but the flipside for finance is that IT can take cost out of the business. Anything you operate you should push down on. Telepresence drives down cost of travel and takes people off planes, which is wearing on them, and helps in reducing our carbon footprint."

As for the CIO role, Modruson is sanguine about what it means and the value proposition to the company, and is not keen on suggestions that the CIO title could morph into something different that reflects new requirements.

"I'm not a big one for name changes. You don't want to do it more than you have to. You could have changed the title a dozen times and it would have been a mess-up. It's become a pretty good name [although] the title can always use some improvement. It's come to mean information and infrastructure capabilities of technology. Technology is the lifeblood of any organization and it's the conduit that is increasingly important. IT is there to serve the business and you really need to see what the business wants. "I report to the COO [Stephen Rohleder]. It varies by company but I'm comfortable with [that line] and I'm reporting to the right place to be effective."

While there is an ongoing debate over the next opportunity for CIOs -- to become COO or even CEO, for example -- Modruson has no such ambition. "I have the best job in the company," he says. "I have a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. I like technology and I feel that I've been training for this role for many years. I'm having a blast."

Modruson also is a conservative when it comes to the future of IT and the CIO role, downplaying suggestions that IT will quickly become a commodity and the CIO role will be obviated.

"When we get 100-volt AC [for computing] maybe that happens," he says with an air of cynicism, adding that technology trends tend not to be predictable or have any clear cadence.

Changing trends

"Five years ago we weren't talking about YouTube or Facebook; in a few years there will be more trends and I don't know what they are. I don't think anybody sitting there now [as CIO] will feel the need to go away. In 15 years, it's possible. I've been doing IT since the 1980s and it's changed dramatically. We had the year of the LAN. Then we had the internet. I put the first node on the internet in 1987 but nobody knew about it, then it exploded in the Nineties. I look at IT and it's here to stay, and is very strategic to companies."

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