No – it is not more difficult or more risky compared to what past CIOs had to do . Every time I see articles and tweets that seem to indicate otherwise , I cringe .
Dealing with business problems has always been on CIO agenda – it is not something that came up yesterday . Good CIOs have always dealt with CXOs – the excellent ones have always dealt with users too . In 90s – when ERP was the “innovation” thing to do , CIOs led the charge . They had to take big risks with unknown software for the benefit of the business . They had to agree to customize off the shelf software knowing that business needed it and hence the price to pay in future is justified . In many cases they convinced colleagues to change business processes to suit what is available off the shelf in ERP systems .
I have sat in several such meetings – it wasn’t pretty , but CIOs of big and small companies did that .
In the 2000s, they had to find ways to reduce cost and figure out working partnerships with outsourcing firms . In most cases they had to deal with a loss of their power and authority and yet they did that . They had to fire people that they knew for decades – and they did that to save their business . They invested in BI systems knowing more or less for sure that it is a journey and not a destination . They jumped into the exciting world of Internet knowing well that there are big risks .
And in 2010s – they have to deal with CMOs with more budget , cloud vendors who bypass them and go to business side directly , in-memory and NOSQL vendors who want to displace incumbent RDBMS vendors and so on . Is that difficult and risky ? Yes . Is it MORE difficult and risky than what previous generation had to deal with ? Hardly ! It’s just different .
The one thing that is becoming more common these days is that executives from business side are now taking on a CIO job for some time to check the box on their way to bigger and better things . This has many advantages for sure – but it has one disadvantage that I have now seen a few times . When a sales leader does well in West – she gets a shot at maybe running all of North America , or go run marketing for a change . But when a Sales VP goes on a CIO tour of duty and does well in that job – he risks getting stuck there for more time than he signed up for . And for some – it becomes a dead end job . That is the part that is riskier and harder for the CIOs these days than the ones in the past – in my experience .
Ok – I am getting back to vacation mode !