'Digital disruptor' CIOs can be CEOs of future

CIOs of today can become the CEOs of tomorrow if they understand that they need to adopt the position of "agent of change".

That is the view of retail IT expert Jevern Partridge, who has previously held senior IT roles at the likes of online fashion retailer Asos, health and beauty retailer Boots and high street stalwart Marks & Spencer. He told Essential Retail that it is up to CIOs to become "the digital disruptors" and create new ideas, or risk being overtaken in the pecking order by eCommerce directors.

"New emerging roles such as the chief digital officer are often created because the IT department is still a traditional department offering IT helpdesk and PC support at the core of what they do," he argued.

"The CIO needs to not just embrace new technology, but actually be the person promoting and creating new ideas. Only then are they able to be considered the CEO of the future."

Partridge's comments come as multichannel logistics firm iForce this week announced the development of a new apprenticeship scheme which aims to support its IT department in helping young professionals onto the career ladder. The iForce programme will see young employees learn the ropes on the company's helpdesk, but gradually learn about the other aspects of the business over the course of 12 months.

The contract will initially run for one year and will act as a pilot scheme that iForce hopes might open the door to other apprentice roles within the business. The role will focus on how IT and logistics combine in the modern working environment.

Partridge, who is now working as a freelance consultant and is behind much of the work being done at IT consultancy Ridge Solutions, said: "I think the scheme is an extremely positive idea.

"From the small beginnings of a single apprentice, a full scheme can emerge. There is a lack of available talent in the eCommerce and multichannel space as the UK leads the world in the development of new initiatives."