Apptio counts many high-profile Fortune 500 companies as customers. But few of them are as far along the journey of delivering IT as a true portfolio of services as is Cisco. Leading this sweeping initiative is Cisco’s CIO (and strategic advisor to Apptio), Rebecca Jacoby, who for the past four years has been driving this transformation at one of the world’s largest IT shops. Rebecca was one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Spring Interop conference where she shared details about Cisco’s IT Services Transformation strategy.

Sean Kerner of Internet.com wrote about Rebecca’s presentation and grasped a salient and often overlooked point:

 Jacoby sees her role figuring out how to provide the IT services that achieve business needs. "We have to think of ourselves as the sourcer of services as opposed to the developer of services,"

The distinction between ‘sourcing’ and ‘developing’ services might sound subtle, but it’s significant. Up until a few years ago, the business had little choice but to go to IT for all of their IT service requirements. But the Cloud -- along with the many flavors of “as-a-Service” -- has changed all of that. With these new choices, IT now has to figure out where it can add the most value to the business. In some instances, that means outsourcing a service such as e-mail or CRM while in another scenario, IT might decide it makes the most sense to develop a given service in-house.

The introduction of choice into the IT services equation means that CIOs need to begin thinking less like technology portfolio managers and more like “strategic sourcers”. As Rebecca goes on to say, “it’s about delivering capabilities to the business.”

But it’s not always easy to build a strong business case for making these types of decisions. And it’s necessary to understand at a very precise level, what it costs to deliver a service internally so you can compare that to an external service provider (and then factor in other considerations such as how critical that service is to the business, what performance levels, etc) to arrive at a defensible decision. Of course, this is what the Technology Business Management category is enabling and why the Apptio platform has become such an integral decision support engine for Rebecca and her team.

One other reflection on how the shift to services is fundamentally reshaping the CIO role comes from Rikva Little’s interview with Rebecca in SearchNetworking.com. She notes the irony that the CIO of the largest networking company in the world is talking not about routing and switching but rather about Service Oriented Architectures. The fact that Rebecca is addressing an audience of networking professionals around the emergent role of services speaks volumes. The transformative CIO sees the services forest, not the technology trees. But Rebecca says it best when she says:

The way that manifests itself in everybody's career is you need to know the bigger picture beyond your technology because the only thing that counts in the end is the business service that you're delivering.