New Thoughts On The CIO Is Your Friend

By David Mortman

I recently had the pleasure to present at a local CIO conference. There were about 50 CIOs in the room, ranging from .edu folks, to start-ups, to the CIOs of major enterprises including a large international bank and a similarly large insurance company. While the official topic for the event was “the cloud”, there was a second underlying theme – that CIOs needed to learn how to talk to the business folks on their terms and also how to make sure that IT wasn’t being a roadblock but rather an enabler of the business. There was a lot of discussion and concern about the cloud in general – driven by business’ ability to take control of infrastructure away from IT – so while everybody agreed that communicating with the business should always have been a concern, the cloud has brought this issue to the fore.

This all sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? For a while now I’ve been advocating that we as an industry need to be doing a better job communicating with the business and I stand behind that argument today. But I hadn’t realized how fortunate I was to work with several CIOs who had already figured it out. It’s now pretty clear to me that many CIOs are still struggling with this, and that it is not necessarily a bad thing. It means, however, that while the CIO is still an ally as you work to communicate better with the business, it is now important to keep in mind that the CIO might be more of a direct partner rather than a mentor. Either way, having someone to work with on improving your messaging is important – it’s like having an editor (Hi Chris!) when writing. That second set of eyes is really important for ensuring the message is clear and concise.

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I’ve been thinking along these lines too.  My conclusion is that IT leadership lacks the objectivity to bring IT capabilities in line with business needs, hence the breakdown in communication.  In other words, we are constantly searching for ways to negate new ideas that would diminish our influence.  It isn’t that we can’t communicate well, it is that doing so would be counter to our own power agenda. 

So, while the CIO may not be blocking intentionally, I bet you dollars to doughnuts that the operations/infrastructure/development directors are feeding the CIO biased perspectives. 

Of course, I’ve been rather melancholy of late WRT the state of IT in general, so grain of salt and all that.

By ds

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