Everyone wants to become a technology leader, at-least a few years ago when we all saw these cool SVP IT, CIO and other roles emerge as power aggregated towards to the center or to the top [which ever your favorite direction to power might that be].
Banking industry was the first to have these celebrated roles, outsourcing made it even more cool as CIOs started to learn to manage vendors – well, they thought they did at-least, and this made it even more fun and exciting to be around. You have conferences where you could meet your peers and double-check with them if you are strategic enough.
Despite the move towards getting accepted in the board and being part of the executive team where some CIOs even got to report to the CEO, a CIO’s life is getting harder and harder. That is a plain fact and I know it since I talk to many of them on a regular basis. Sad reality is that this job is quite shaky and the lifespan of a typical CIO is shrinking dramatically – some companies are replacing CIOs almost every 1.5 years! Reasons?
CIOs are being let go because they are not strategic enough, many are choosing to move out themselves because the role is not exciting enough – yes, that happens as well and a lot are getting lost in the CMO, CDO wars. A handful of CIOs seem to chug along longer but none knows if they are glorified survivors or really strategic guys doing awesome stuff. Basically what I’m trying to say is that there is a lot going on out there!
I’ve seen them all: Water cooler discussions; projects codenamed like “UnitedIT” which CIOs are “part of” while CMO enjoying lively conversations with business leaders, or some other coup which you had not even imagined it could be against you! Actually, this is really quite sad: sad because I strongly believe that in this age of extreme competition, massive digital push and big data gold rush which his driving data driven science code rush, businesses ought to have a much stronger IT than they have ever had!
I am not saying that every CIO will be able to survive this, as it certainly demands CIOs to act and think differently, all I am saying is that these guys have seen shifts like these in waves and they deserve to be heard. Sure enough, there is need for radical and exceptional CIOs and not all existing CIOs may fit the bill, but I still think many still can.
The challenge lies not just with the individual but also within the organization. Lets take a look at this one by one.