Isn’t It Time CIOs Got Some Good News?


Howard Baldwin, Contributor

February 24, 2014

Was it my imagination, or was there actually a spate of positive news for CIOs over the last week or so? Goodness knows, after so long being told that their work is denigrated and their position is in danger, no group deserves good news more than CIOs (except perhaps American hockey teams).

There was also good news from the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Network conference earlier this month, out of which came word that “now that the CIO manages the ever more complex information flow that drives a company’s internal decisions as well as its links to customers globally, the job has the look of a corporate stepping stone to higher ground.”

And CIOs are feeling that power. At the WSJ conference, a whopping 70% said that they saw themselves as eventually becoming a CEO, while the majority also said they now report to the CEO, “a big increase from just a few years ago.”

On Huffington Post, Netflix CIO Mike Kail lays out eight ways CIOs can fix IT’s reputation. To deal with the challenges of what he sees as the potential transformation of IT, Kail advices CIOs to not be driven by fear but rather to embrace this opportunity to create a new reputation for IT. The story is accompanied by a video interview conducted by Extreme Networks’ CMO Vala Afshar, who also puts forth fourteen more resolutions for transformation in this piece from last week.

Is there a new mandate for CIOs to take charge? Over at ZDNet last week, Dion Hincliffe’s thinks so. Despite news that there are increasing numbers of chief digital officers and more technology projects being managed outside of IT, he writes, “for most organizations, the CIO is still the top leader with by far the most resources to realize technology deeply and widely across the business. For many — perhaps even most — organizations, the CIO is also the most respected, proven, and effective resource for realizing large, complex IT projects, which are famously fraught with high failure rates the larger they get.”

Heck, yes!

Interestingly, even as Forrester released that ominous news about IT-projects-managed-beyond-IT, “dropping from 55 percent to 47 percent by 2015,” according to analyst Andrew Bartels, this story from IDG News Service spins the news more positively: that is, CIOs still control most IT spending. “[T]he ideal tech-buying process is one in which the business and the CIO’s team work together to identify a need, find and fund a solution, choose the right vendor or vendors, implement it, and manage it,” according to Bartels.

What’s driving all this good news? Maybe, just maybe, CIOs finally feel like they’re getting their arms around this technology thing. Certainly, according to this Harris Poll looking at how IT executives feels about technology compared to the general public, the former have a strong feeling of confidence and control – at least when it comes to personal technology. As this nice summary in CIO Insight notes, “86% of CIOs … say technology has improved the quality of their lives.”

But it also looks like they’re finally getting comfortable with corporate technology as well. They’re finally becoming recognized as the experts in this complex cacophony of stuff that, when done well, makes work seem less like work. It’s about time.

Email CIO Next Community Manager Howard Baldwin if you’re a CIO who wants to spout off in an opinion piece on what in your job either aggravates or energizes you.

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