Tuesday, 13 February 2007

On CIO's

I was reading an article on itnews.com.au about how CIO's are moving ahead of CFO's in some companies these days. I've never seen it myself , but I can't help but thinking this isn't a particularly good thing. In my career I have worked under probably a dozen CIO's (I won't count those when the organisation was a software house or an IT consultancy). Only one of those CIO's I would define as good at what they did (an ironically he was only an 'acting' CIO). If I was to characterise the CIO's I've worked under, the following are true of almost all of them:


  • They started off their careers in technical positions, but moved into the management side of IT as soon as they could.


  • They have never done any study in IT beyond undergraduate level (if your lucky), but always seem to have an MBA or other degree that looks good to non-IT people.


  • They don't understand current technology at all, but do understand vendor management.

  • They give the impression that they see being CIO as a stepping stone into becoming CEO (although i've never seen that happen).

  • Their direct reports are wannabe CIO's themselves, so all the above points are true of them also.


All together this paints a pretty ugly picture. These people are so out of touch, and it shows. The end result is you only ever get one of two messages from a CIO, ether:

  • "We need to cut costs and place better controls on out environment"

or

  • "We need to invest more and allow our people the freedom to innovate"


Thus it ends up being left to lower level people to run the organisation as best they can in between doing their real jobs.

Personally, I think the days of these CIO dinosaurs is slowly coming to an end. But it isn't us I.T. people that will bring them down.

Its the Marketing manager who asks why he can't install FireFox, only to realise the CIO has never heard of FireFox. Or the research analyst who it prohibited from using Python to develop their financial simulations because the CIO thinks Excel is what he should be using. These CIO's now know less about IT than your average person under 40, and once tech savvy non-IT people becomes CEO's these technically incompetent CIO's will disappear.

Good riddance to bad rubbish !

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