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back to article CIOs' most likely job move is a sideways shift

CIOs have a great opportunity to boss innovation in their organisation, but they’re not valued as strategic advisors by their CEOs, most of whom think they’ll be out of the door soon, according to analysts and IT leaders. Gartner analyst Terick Chiu used a keynote at the CIO Executive Summit 2012 in Hong Kong on Wednesday to …

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Silver badge

One word:

DUH!

Why do you think facebook IPOed far too high? It's because the culture of the manglement track absolutely, categorically, and pathologically refuses to listen to the technical track.

I, for one, seriously hopes this continues ... Cleaning up after various CEO/CFO incompetent technical disastersecisions are helping to fund my "retirement", without dipping into my savings :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Schizophrenic attitude

Yes, I'm aware that that is not the correct usage of the term schizophrenic in this modern world, but everybody knows what's meant:

Maybe it would help if those precious CEOs themselves knew what the hell they actually expected a CIO to provide for a business.

You want a "business leader"? Isn't that YOUR job? Someone who understands the financial underpinnings? What's your CFO for then? As a result you end up with CIOs who understand *neither* business, nor financials - NOR IT (such as the one I worked for in a previous job, who still used IE6 a year ago, didn't understand virtualisation no matter how many times it was explained to him, insisted that it should be company policy to have 6 character passwords - those are just random flashbacks coming back to me).

So, which is it? How about - I know it's a ridiculous notion but give it a try - getting someone who understands technology and let them... work with me here!... manage the technology without which your shop would go under in a heartbeat nowadays. And not yet another MBA who has problems turning on his own laptop!

Normally don't post anonymously but in this case I need to CMA. :(

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Thumb Up

Re: Schizophrenic attitude

quite right, I couldn't agree more, you hire a person for their expertise and then ignore any advice they offer and blame the CIO when it goes down the pan. MBA = Master of Blame Allocation

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Re: isn't that your job

While it is the CEO's job to have the main view of the business as a whole and the CFO's job to have the main view of the money, it doesn't do any harm for the CIO to have a good idea what is going on outside their department. If the CIO just thinks of IT in isolation from the business then what's stop them loosing track of the whole purpose of the IT dept.?

Likewise, there should be no excuse these days for any other senior official in the business having a good idea about what is going on in IT.

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Holmes

Re: isn't that your job

<If the CIO just thinks of IT in isolation from the business then what's stop them loosing track of the whole purpose of the IT dept.?>

OK. But, these apply too:

If the CEO just thinks of IT in isolation from the business, a cost, then what's to stop them loosing track of the whole purpose of the IT dept.?

If the CFO just thinks of IT in isolation from the business, a cost, then what's to stop them loosing track of the whole purpose of the IT dept.?

And just what is the 'whole' purpose of an IT department?

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Headmaster

Re: isn't that your job

You Bastard.

My eyes are bleeding from that.

It's LOSING.

I'd say the purpose of the IT department is to correct your spelling.

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Holmes

Re: isn't that your job

I think the problem is that the CIO talks about and delivers hygiene stuff - infrastructure, the desktop, the problems of implementing somebody else's ideas, virtualisation, etc. And when he does get some air time, it's all presented in dull technical terms, supported by all-too-often made up business cases.

But (like many of us) the board don't care about dull stuff. That's no different to finance - they don't care about receivable or payables, they just want the dull and complex stuff to work, and not be bothered themselves. They equally don't care much about HR - "Just get rid of the unwanted employees cleanly, write a few policies, and don't bother us Big People unless you've got a really important idea". The CIO's and IT departments however don't bring innovative ideas to the board themselves. Finance look at ways for helping the business deliver better cashflow, making bigger margins, work with the business units to convert a good idea into real money. Sales & Marketing look to make a splash, forever doing the "big I am" routine, but occasionally managing to land the new business that keeps us solvent. IT lurk on the fringes, and often make things happen, without really being in at the beginning and without being seen to innovate or add much value. An evil necessity, rather than a value creator for the business.

I'm sure some will argue that IT is all about innovation (and as a former techie I have sympathy with that), but let's face it, IT is rarely where the rest of the business starts when they have a good idea. I know in my company, that if I involve IT, I'll be immediately bogged down in exorbitant costs, procedural evaluations, the need to document in painful detail things that I simply want doing, that nobody will see through to the bright shiny vision that I have. By contrast, if I work with finance, they'll test my idea, and if it looks like it might be commercial they'll help me take it forward.

Some companies are different, but as a general rule IT departments are not visionary, not team players, not commercially minded. That's why users cobble their own Access tools, why isolated islands of data suddenly become mission critical assets, why people go round the IT department to get outside systems installed. Indeed, it's part of why these CEO's don't see their CIO as a strategic adviser. Looking at other news, GCHQ are trying to educate UK CEO's about the threat of hacking and IP theft. If the CIO was up to snuff he'd have got some board time two years or more ago, and have presented a non-technical view of the threats, risks and remedies, and GCHQ wouldn't need to do this.

I currently work in a cross business role. I have frequent and useful inputs from finance, and less frequent inputs from HR or marketing, but I can't recall a single time that anybody in our large IT department has come to me with an idea for how my business can work better (ignoring routine, siloed cost cutting that doesn't otherwise affect my business), and I've never had an IT colleague call me and say "Hi, this is Bob - just calling to see if there's anything emerging, or niggling ideas that we might help out with?"

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Bronze badge

CEO not IT savvy

Exactly, Dazed: the reason CEOs don't see CIOs as strategic advisers may be that CEOs have insufficient knowledge of what IT does.

Because IT is essential to a lot of businesses, perhaps it's fare more important to get CEOs to learn more about IT than to get CIOs to learn more about business...

But the CEO can never be wrong, can he....

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FAIL

Re: ...that CEOs have insufficient knowledge of what IT does.

Case in point:

the assholes at RBS

Need I say more?

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Facepalm

Re: isn't that your job - loosing your job

LOL!

Cut'n'paste job. My train of thought got lost on loose tracks!

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Boffin

CIOs' most likely job move is a sideways shift? Well duh. EVERYONE's most likely job move is a sideways shift.

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Anonymous Coward

Plumbing

CIOs are plumbers, and the only reason they think otherwise is that Gartner has found a lucrative niche helping them believe they're special.

Would you ask your plumber how to renovate your house? Or what house to buy?

If they'd asked tech firms what role the CTO has, they might have got a different answer.

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Facepalm

Re: Plumbing

"CIOs are plumbers, and the only reason they think otherwise is that Gartner has found a lucrative niche helping them believe they're special."

You git! Upvoted because I've just wasted 500 plus words in War-and-***ing-Peace post saying what you've put in about twenty.

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Mushroom

Dazed Schizophrenic Plumbers

Look out, it's the Charge of the Tech Brigade. Onward go the 500 excuses of the Tekky - "it's not my job" , "nobody listens", "Senior Management are idiots". Yada, Yada, Yada. Into the Valley of irrelevant oblivion we go.

Get a grip.

I don't care if the CIO doesn't understand virtualisation, as long as they understand how information flows benefit the overall processes of the business. I don't care if the CIO can't field-strip a laptop, as long as they can understand the trends for technology take up that (a) affect my business vertical and (b) ensure some form of continuation in the never-ending battle of competitive advantage.

When oh when are Architects, CTO-types and senior Solution people going to get it? It's the Business that pays the bills. The business that's attempting to innovate & the Business that would welcome a forward-thinking IT Dept.

As Ledswinger implies, IT teams are conservative, backward-looking and suspicious of change. It is NOT easy to get things done by engaging with IT, which is why the IT budget and CIO/CTO/et-al have been losing budget and status for years. The current 'war' over BYOD illustrates this; while IT Departments whine about threat & non-conforming kit, 80% of Gov and 75% of Private Sector companies (on the business side) are looking to implement - on a recent webcast I attended with over 200 different companies represented, 24% happily admitted that they were going BYOD in direct opposition to their IT.

In environments like this, tech people should remember that they are paid to come up with solutions, not excuses as to why something can't be done, paid to come up with answers, not to sit there rolling eyes...guess what, it's tough - that's why IT is paid as much as it is!

- as the article says "When we talk cloud computing, mobile and Big Data, are we focusing just on the technology side or the potential business capabilities". The point is, until CIOs focus on the potential biz capabilities, they will be sidelined. If you don't get that then don't worry, your clearly not Board material anyway, stay in a room with some tech toys and keep moaning how "nobody understands" you.

BTW. I've built Linux Kernels, SUN Clusters, designed Data-Centres, designed Layer-3 networks, Architected multi-country desktop/SAP/channel solutions and very large scale transactional DB systems in Mission Critical environments - just in case anyone thinks I'm an escaped animal from the Marketing Department let loose in El Regs tech-heaven :-D Oh yes, and I've both field-stripped laptops and built VM's ;-)

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Windows

Corporate crap go!

"The classic problem of IT leaders failing to engage properly with the business."

It is the other way around 99% of the time I'm afraid.

The business doesn't want/can't understand IT.

That is why people complain about budgets being to high, they fail to understand complexity, and refuse to acknowledge how important the IT stuff is to the business.

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Meh

*sigh*

This isn't new, I found exactly the same sort of attitudes existed back in 2007 when I wrote my honours thesis on the issue. (http://randomcontent.wolfnexus.net/RandomSite/index.php?cID=91 for anyone who is actually interested, I posted the introduction and abstract as my university hasn't moved past print yet.)

Fundamentally it came down to a separation in the aims of senior management of IT vs general business. You'd either get someone installed as CIO who knew nothing about IT (and would do a sub-par job on looking after it), or someone who knew IT, but was promptly relegated to the outer of senior management and not listened to.

While IT is not a utility, businesses often forget just how dependent they are on its operation. I know if I switched off all IT resources where I work, the firm would be completely unable to function. Additionally if anything ever breaks then "IT is useless, everything always breaks." Nobody remembers when things have been running flawlessly for months on end.

IT often forgets that there is more to the business than what they actually do. Without the business bringing in the $$$ there will be nothing to make the IT systems go. Always remember there must be an actual point to what you are trying to do, and a clear business benefit to it.

As for cloud computing and BYOD, there is always the spectre of security looming overhead. Businesses think convenience without always taking into account the risks (both technical and social) that comes with such things. BYOD is convenient, but can allow for uncontrollable intellectual property and data leakage. It also becomes a serious issue when investigating wrong-doing, as in many countries a company can not seize a person's own device for investigation purposes. As a business person or an IT person, ask yourself what could be done if a user with a BYOD device was suspected of theft, fraud or wrong-doing, or liked loaning their device to their partner, who works for a competing company?

Cloud computing is another fun world all together. Sure you can have contracts and can sue each other for loss of data, but if you lose a years records due to a stuff-up in the cloud, is any level of compensation going to save your business and reputation? What happens if the provider goes bust, or is bought out by a competing company that suddenly now gets access to all your files?

These are not issues commonly considered by business people, ("thats all technical stuff, you work it out!"), but if the smelly stuff hits the fan, who do you think ends up taking the blame?

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Anonymous Coward

CIO as businessman?

How many CIOs offer plans that decrease the number of in-house IT staff and outsource the work to a company able to meet SLAs with low risk? Yeah, not too many. Usually the CIO says that's way too expensive. But, in the long run, the CEO figures that's what will end up happening when a few key IT staff find other jobs. Maybe it's the job of the CIO to put IT in a sustainable place so he can work at becoming CTO. And this doesn't happen very often because IT people make bad business people. It seems only IT people don't know this.

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