During his keynote presentation at Cisco Live in Melbourne this week, senior vice president of worldwide field operations Chuck Robbins said "every CIO has a healthy paranoia."
CIOs operate in "an incredibly complex world" with an "unbelievable" pace of change, he said.
While rapid technology transitions are the norm, business transitions are even more important: most of the disruption faced by organisations comes from shifting business models, not technology changes, Robbins said.
And there's still a problem that in many organisations IT is still seen as a cost centre, whereas others realise that technology can be a source of strategic differentiation and disruption.
He predicted a new wave of disruption will be caused by increasing digitisation and what Cisco likes to call the 'internet of everything', which will have "ten to 20 times the impact of everything we have seen in the past."
'Fast IT' - a response to the fast innovation increasingly expected by organisations - requires the right architecture. "We've got to build the framework right the first time," because organisations can no longer do their own systems integration for each project.
The good news for people working in technology is that government and industry leaders "think IT is cool again."
"IT has never been more relevant," he concluded.