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February 27, 2007

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» Who Needs a CIO? from Marketing with Microsoft in the Mid-Atlantic
Interesting post from Chris Anderson on the mindset of the CIO today. [Read More]

» It’s Tough Being the CIO... from SAGE Wisdom Journal
The tensions that CIOs and IT Directors need to manage come from both the top an [Read More]

» Who needs a CIO? from Status
So, Chris Anderson, of The Long Tail fame, apparently was invited for some reason to speak at CIO Magazine's annual conference. If I sound skeptical about his qualifications or interest in speaking at such an event, head over and see the blog entry about [Read More]

Comments

JPS S and S

I work in the company you describe. So, I will just say Amen to your post!

David

I anticipate a steady stream of CIOs jumping ship and crossing over to the other side :)

Jeff McNeill

Amen brother, and I say that having worked as a network engineer in IT departments in industry, and now as a graduate student and instructor at a University. What is even worse is the level of "lock down" on the computer labs. This semester it took 7 weeks of complaints just to get the computers stable and running Firefox 2.0.0.1. And this particular lab is two-year-old iMacs. I just don't get it. But maybe this is kind of a "creating the need for you to stick around". I mean, it is obviously difficult to manage all these Macs, so we need to have someone to do it...

rhwinter

I especially liked:
"the next wave of workers, who come from Gen Y and are also referred to as Millenials. The gestalt of the Millenials (a.k.a., the "I'm special" generation) is that they grew up with a boundless sense of self-importance, always have had the Internet, love to share digital content, need to be constantly challenged, want high-level responsibilities immediately, expect a work-life balance with telecommuting options, and will go around IT practices and policies without hesitation."

It only goes to show that people are not even regarded as people, they are just part of "a generation". Generation this, generation that. Come on, is there even such a thing? There are so many other factors that have to be taken into account when (trying to) grouping people. No wonder they "don't seem to care all that much about the needs and desires of the next wave of workers", they don't even know who these workers are!

What is even more amazing is the "internet generation" thing. It couldn't mean less. Do these people even know what the internet is? Do they have an idea how big and encompassing this thing is? It is almost like saying: "the reading generation"; which does not say anything at all. What matters is not where you get your stuff (knowledge, fun, social interactions, etc) but which stuff you get; and that is the beauty with the internet, with uses ranging from mindless porn to academic research (and, obviously, academic porn to mindless research!). Rant over.

Ed Kohler

CIOs do indeed have a difficult job. Too many companies view IT as a cost rather than an investment. The worst cases I've seen involve IT departments reporting to the CFO. That's doomed to fail. IT should report to marketing if not at the C-level. Marketing knows how to invest now for future returns.

blooflame

I've got to disagree on the Marketing idea.. Marketing believes in the 'now', not the future, and certainly not 'stability'. Marketing/PR types go for whatever is 'hot' right now and to hell with whether it breaks servers or eats bandwidth. That's fine if other parts of the company don't share computers or networks with Marketing, but not otherwise.

CIOs (and we IT underlings) don't necessarily like being gatekeepers, but we are often also tasked, as you pointed out, with keeping the infrastructure running. Infrastructure outages mean lost money - and nothing increases the probability of outages more than unconstrained changes in a complex system (Murphy's Law increases in relation to the square of the interconnections between components in a system).

Want to use Skype, access your web mail at work, Fark around, or build a Second Life island? Make a business case, show how it will add to, or prevent loss to, the bottom line, and I bet the CEO and/or CFO will tell the CIO to get it done. If, on the other hand, you just feel entitled to stream any video you like over company-paid-for bandwidth, because it's there, and that's what you did before you were permanently employed by people with real dollars in the mix, there's a problem.

sabik

@rhwinter: Of course, "the reading generation" does, in fact, make sense. As you note, it's not how you get stuff, it's what you get; but that's strongly affected by the mechanism.

If you don't read, you can only get stuff people around you say. Once you learn to read, your universe widens quite significantly - significantly enough to make for profound societal change. The same kind of difference when printing comes in (cheap books, newspapers) - again, it's a societal change. Not because print would be better (actually, it's worse) but because there's a much wider universe of stuff to read.

The important thing about the "internet generation" isn't that they read stuff off a screen; it's that they're not limited to the books on their shelf and in their local library.


η

AN

@blooflame,

If your company's attitude toward it's employees is that they shouldn't have any amenities or perks that they can't provide direct ROI case studies to justify, don't surprise if your company ends up employing whatever dead weight employees are left over after more capable workers go to companies that actually try to treat their employees well.

If your company's philosophy is that work is *supposed* to suck, so deal with it -- well, I'm sure you get the people you deserve.

Jon

This is actually pretty spot on, Chris.

I was born in 1981. Wikipedia tells me that means I'm part of one of the following: Generation Y, the Internet Generation, the Boomerang Generation, or the MTV Generation. Whatever the case, I'm the guy you described above. People always ask mistake me for an intern at work, I do hate CIOs and yeah, (I think) I'm pretty damn special. =)

I'm the youngest person at my company, I'm 25 and the rest of the employees are all either 40 or older (save for a few 35's). It's a telecommunications company where the IT guy can't even access the companies FTP server and where another higher-up thinks that SCSI hard drives are still the best medium for storing data.

Honestly, I find that most of the precautions set forth by the CIO and the people who run the company are little more than outdated superstition. Until recently (like last week) we didn't even have a wireless network because one guy in charge thought hackers would, quote, 'monitor and steal everything'.

The fact of the matter is, the lines have blurred between what is 'earned' and what makes the most sense for a business. A CIO title is just that: a title. It doesn't mean that you know more than I do because you're older than me. One would hope a good CIO did, but that isn't always the case and to assume so, can hinder progress.

For instance, I recently helped bail the whole company out of a situation using completely open-source software. This was after weeks of sitting in on meetings where I was told not to do anything while my superiors plotted crazy solutions that would have been brilliant...ten years ago. Long story short, I took some open source software and code and managed to finish the project at one of the meetings (while they were still talking). Sure, I wasn't exactly following protocol, but the job got done.

All of my above sarcasm aside, it's not that my generation really feels so special. We just know that (despite all our lack of 'experience') we sometimes have more to offer than we're given credit for.

Dilbert

"Want to use Skype....? Make a business case, show how it will add to, or prevent loss to, the bottom line, and I bet the CEO and/or CFO will tell the CIO to get it done"

Business case? This is obviously a real corporate bureaucrat talking here. This is just the kind of corporate rigid nonsense that makes users want to circumvent systems.

I have to spend my time writing memos for uninterested managers to ignore in their in-trays, and for IT (and HR, and Accounting) gatekeepers to scrutinise, before I can get something done?

And pray tell, why can't the IT department be the one to come up with the customer-focused innovations? Isn't 'internal customer' part of your corporate jargon? Well,customer-focused companies don't wait for customers to write 'business cases' and proposals. They research what customers want, and give it to them before they ask.

So give me Skype before I ask for it, or don't be surprised when I'd rather hack your silly firewalls than spend weeks waiting for some change-averse bureaucrat with an instinctive 'no'on the end of his tongue to bless my initiative.

paul

A System Architect is the person with the skills and experience to design and implement a secure network. In an Object-Oriented data structure Architecture is everything. System Administrators run networks, developers write code, and System Architects get it all to work.

gzino

@bloofame - "Want to use Skype....? Make a business case, show how it will add to, or prevent loss to, the bottom line, and I bet the CEO and/or CFO will tell the CIO to get it done"

To build my business case, can you temporarily remove google.com from your banned URL list (it is probably on the "productivity hampering" list, but if you open a trouble ticket, than I'm sure one of your MIS guys can find it for you in a few days).

dbsteele

It's not an age problem; it's a power trip problem. I'm a 60 year old database consultant, and I have one client whose office I avoid whenever possible, for many of the reasons mentioned by other commentators here. The IT department is run by a bunch of heavy handed control freaks, all of whom are 20-30 years younger than me.

Jeff Nolan

dbsteele, you hit on a big piece of all this. In addition to control, many IT pros look at their skillset and see it being devalued in an era of user-centric computing. In other words, walking into a modern IT group and telling them that things don't have to be complex and they alone are not responsible for it is translated as "my job just got a lot less important".

Cory Snavely

Interesting. I certainly see this phenomenon of clashing perspectives in action. My favorite widely-held misconception is "storage is cheap", and I have no doubt that comes from $89 250GB drives being available out there, etc...but the 1 GB flash drive in my pocket still doesn't make my 500 TB SAN easy to architect, or much less make its design scalable and sustainable.

What annoys me about writing like this is that it is so clearly written from the perspective of someone who doesn't think it's important for himself or anyone else to know how things work under the hood, let alone that IT should be applied with some sort of strategy. Here's the reality: you don't have to think about it because somebody else is thinking about it for you.

Technology evolves in layers and is *most definitely* generational. My grandpa used to periodically hone the cylinders in his cars, and today I can't even figure out where my VW's oil filter is. Similarly, I can instantly see when a server is suffering because of a lack of memory, or virtual memory, or disk space, but I know competent developers who couldn't articulate the difference between the three, and guess who they call when they see performance problems!

Things, of course, change over time. Cylinders don't need regular honing, as far as I know...but we'd all still like to have a good mechanic we could call.

I see all this as a horizontal line--below it is commodity infrastructure, above it are services...and the line is constantly moving up. As it does, the operations at that level move from the locally-run to the centrally- or commercially-run...and they have to be run well to meet high expectations, which means doing more than putting up an open source app on your desktop. On our campus, networking went under the commodity line long ago; I personally have never touched a router. I phased out our departmental email service a few years ago because we had nothing to offer over the alternatives and I put that time to new things. We run web servers, but maybe web service in general will become commodity at some point, as might low-end storage. Storage on a petabyte scale isn't anywhere close to being commodity here, and as such is still a huge focus of my work.

Sure, the perception from the surface is that the lower layer is all done for you, all automatic, you throw hardware at it and it's easy and it works. If that were really true, though, everybody's web site would be as fast as Google. I don't have to think about networking, but when I do talk to the network engineers on this campus, I am reminded of how incredibly knowledgeable and competent they are, and how lost we'd be without them.

The problem we are really talking about here is a lack of inventiveness, and it's neither endemic nor exclusive to CIOs. It happens in all areas of management, and it happens with developers, too.

The legitimate point of the article as it relates to IT professionals like myself that run infrastructure is that it's important to be receptive to new technologies, and to know when it's time to let something slip below that line and get on to other things. There are those of us out here doing just that.

However, the implication that these systems install and run themselves is simply naive.

JibberJobber Guy

When CIO's aren't required to be in and contribute to executive meetings, there is a problem. When CIO's are required to program, or do desktop support, there is a problem. If a CIO doesn't have an IT manager, there's a problem. If there are regular duals between CIO and CTO, and IT managers, there are is a problem. If the CIO reports to the CFO... duh.

The title is always a funny thing, and the role of a CIO is as elusive as the technology is to most executives.

Christopher Koch

Chris,

Your premise for this post--that CIOs are business people exiled to the wasteland of IT--is completely without basis. Of the more than 500 CIOs we survey every year for our State of the CIO Survey, 80 percent have a technology background, not a business background--and that number has remained consistent since we started doing the survey in 2002.

If there is a problem for CIOs these days, it is that their technology background gives business people the perception that CIOs are incapable of coming up with ways that IT can benefit the business. I could give you some examples of CIOs who have grown out of that perception, but the general perception is real.

Ironically, in the organizations where the CIO has risen to strategic prominence, it has less to do with the CIO than with business's perception of IT. Business people and CEOs who bother to learn about technology and its potential tend to elevate their CIOs to a strategic role. They understand that CIOs aren't there to keep the network running, in my research.

CIO's resistance to Web 2.0 is a separate issue from CIOs' innovative capability, or lack thereof.

Long before there was Web 2.0, there was a history of business people bringing new technology into the organization without IT's knowledge or approval. There is always more conflict over these so-called "rogue technologies" inside companies that don't value IT and have a bad relationship with IT, than in those companies that do value IT. When relations are bad, business people have a much higher tendency to go around IT because they don't think IT offers them any value. They may even actively hate their IT organization and bring technology in knowing that it will wreak havoc on standards and integration and may not even add value but they don't trust IT to operate it, so they are going to do themselves--it becomes an issue of control rather than smart technology choices (sorry, humans are humans).

When you perceive CIOs as saying "no" all the time, you need to look a little deeper at how companies view IT and the relationship between IT and users in those companies. In companies where relations are relatively good, there will be less conflict, fewer pointless attempts to bring in rogue technologies and less resistance from IT to those technologies, because IT will have had an opportunity to present the case for issues like security, bandwidth, application redundancy, integration, etc.

Where business people feel frustrated with their ability to use Web 2.0 inside their company, you'll probably also find a poor relationship between IT and the business.

I would also argue that part of IT's resistance to Web 2.0 can be traced to the fact that it isn't really Web 2.0 at all. It's Web 1.1. There are no FUNDAMENTALLY new ways of connecting people or exchanging value here, which makes a lot of it seem redundant to a CIO charged with maintaining application integrity, security and network performance. For example, if employees have the opportunity to create their own site on the company Intranet or have the tools to create public sites on the net, why do we need to embrace Second Life--unless we want to market something inside it? Google mail and Google documents are okay, but do they provide that much more than the corporate versions of these things? Probably not enough to matter yet. The important thing is that the conversation and evaluation needs to happen.

Only in companies where relations between IT and the business are good can you have a thoughtful discussion about what is really relevant to the company in Web 2.0 and what is redundant or risky.

Christopher Koch
Executive Editor
CIO Magazine
Christopher Koch
Executive Editor
Check out my blog "Koch's IT Strategy" at: http://blogs.cio.com/blog/10

jon o

'The consequence of this is that many CIOs are now just one step above Building Maintenance.'

Spot on, Chris! I've been saying this for years now.

Fortunately, I'm a CIO in a shop that lets me spend most of my day asking "What if?". I wouldn't have it any other way. If I had to spend my day saying No, No way, Nuh-uh, Fill this out - like many CIOs do - I'd get out. Quick. That's not fulfilling work, that's life as a No-man, with or without the dash as you please.

Elvis

Wow, reading all these responses, I now understand why I can never get our IT department do anything. We've been fighting with them for two years on a project that was initially supposed to take 8 weeks, and every time we complain, they come back with some new excuse. But now I get it--instead of working, they're up there wasting time with Second Life, Skype, et nauseum and telling themselves it's an "exciting new initiative."

lightsoutfilms

Re: "there will be less conflict, fewer pointless attempts to bring in rogue technologies and less resistance from IT to those technologies, because IT will have had an opportunity to present the case for issues like security, bandwidth, application redundancy, integration, etc."

Rogue technologies! That's exactly the kind of alarmist attitudes that us trench workers have to deal with. We understand we need to keep things secure, redundant and safe from rogues. But a smart CIO would see that having a place for experimentation is vital to innovation (in thought, product, etc.) It's not an either/or proposition, which is why I'm so amused when IT types put it into those terms.

In protecting slow, old-guard technology, they're ensuring they become more and more irrelevant as time goes on.

Application redundancy! That one kills me: "why do you need a wiki? We have a database program here that requires 2 servers to run, $100 end-user licenses, cost $500,000 to implement and isn't that customizable. So no need for a wiki, move along please."

vinnie mirchandani

Chris. it is open season on the CIO. But check out any large corporation's IT budget and 80% is spent on external vendors - sw, hw, services and telecomms - and only 20% on CIO and IT staff. And that 80% is stubbbornly difficult to bring down (I know - I help CIOs negotiate IBM, SAP, Oracle and the incumbent vendors down). And the savings that do come out of this has been increasingly forced into compliance/risk mgt spend especially in companies where the CIO reports to the CFO.

And for the few pennies left for innovation spend they have web 2.0, telemetry, mobility, virtualizaion, and a bunch of other new stuff competing for the CIOs attention.

Unfortunately, you have picked up on the whines of some CA entrepreneurs who do not want to face up to the reality above and just want to blame CIOs and dream of just going straight to the business users for money.

Most CIOs are not fat or lazy - they have little room to maneuver. You want CIOs to implement all the cool new stuff coming out of the Valley - pick on the real culprit. Go after the lack of innovation in the 80% that is spent on major incumbent vendors. Free up dollars from there.

And then have web 2.0 stuff show better payback than a mobile app or telemetry app or a data center consolidation project. Now that would be cool.

Geoff relph

This is an interesting thread with a whole lot of generalization going on from posters with limited experience and perspective.
The role of the CIO should be "to find new and innovative ways of utilizing technology to further the competitiveness of the corporation". The CIO should be all about innovation except that as a previous poster has pointed out, 85% of the IT budget is consumed keeeping the lights on. This severely limits the financial freedom of the CIO. But it can be done. Despite all the anecdotal reports of idiotic,outdated,control weilding,power tripping IT departments, there really are a bunch of CIO's who understand that they are not necessarily right on top of the latest technologies. However, they encourage junior/younger staffers to offer up new ways of addressing business issues. In many cases they will allow "junior" members to lead projects because they are "senior" by virtue of their technical expertise.
Not all ideas can be accepted. Running the infrastructure of a billion dollar corporation isn't a romper room. Someone has to occasionally make the unpopular decision and say no if the risk is unacceptable. If you don't understand this, you probably have never been where the buck stops when the IT engine grinds to a halt.
So let's try to see both sides in these posts and not grind away with a bunch of generalizations.

Assembly Required

Christopher Koch -- "They may even actively hate their IT organization and bring technology in knowing that it will wreak havoc on standards and integration and may not even add value but they don't trust IT to operate it, so they are going to do themselves"

That's a pretty self-serving and, at least in my experience, inaccurate statement. I report to Marketing, and I'm the one that's trying to get the IT department to recognize the existence of the standards we need to operate. These guys have never heard of WebDAV, don't understand why people working on Web sites are hampered by only being allowed to view the files they are editing through Windows fileshares, and most of them don't even know that there is such at thing a specification for HTML or that it matters when they don't follow it even if the page looks good. I did some pretty conservative extrapolation and guessed at a billion dollars in lost sales over five years, due to IT "support" models.

The "standards" they enforce are at the level of "We support Microsoft Office" and "We have to test the new Intel Macs for a year before we can buy you any new machines." I'm so glad the rocket scientists are out there defending us from our obvious incompetence.

san

The role of the CIO should be "to find new and innovative ways of utilizing technology to further the competitiveness of the corporation".
http://www.puhuagood.com
http://www.puhuagood.com/printer.html
http://www.puhuagood.com/service3.html

san

The CIO should be all about innovation except that as a previous poster has pointed out, 85% of the IT budget is consumed keeeping the lights on. This severely limits the financial freedom of the CIO. But it can be done.

steve

I think the points are relevant not only to the CIO role, but also IT at large. In Intel we struggle with the balance between allowing employees to customize and personalize their systems, and locking down systems for manageability and security. wow powerleveling,Patch management and data protection are just two of the very good reasons for a controlled environment, but most employees still resent the restrictions. They want their external IM connections, music software, alternative browsers, RSS readers, and on and on. If the system is restricted too much then employees start circumventing the controls. It’s the balance between IT saying “No” and saying “What if…”. IT is more comfortable with the former, but the latter is becoming expected.

steve

I think the points are relevant not only to the CIO role, but also IT at large. In Intel we struggle with the balance between allowing employees to customize and personalize their systems, and locking down systems for manageability and security. wow powerleveling,Patch management and data protection are just two of the very good reasons for a controlled environment, but most employees still resent the restrictions. They want their external IM connections, music software, alternative browsers, RSS readers, and on and on. If the system is restricted too much then employees start circumventing the controls. It’s the balance between IT saying “No” and saying “What if…”. IT is more comfortable with the former, but the latter is becoming expected.

steve

I think the points are relevant not only to the CIO role, but also IT at large. In Intel we struggle with the balance between allowing employees to customize and personalize their systems, and locking down systems for manageability and security. wow powerleveling,Patch management and data protection are just two of the very good reasons for a controlled environment, but most employees still resent the restrictions. They want their external IM connections, music software, alternative browsers, RSS readers, and on and on. If the system is restricted too much then employees start circumventing the controls. It’s the balance between IT saying “No” and saying “What if…”. IT is more comfortable with the former, but the latter is becoming expected.

wow power leveling

That's a pretty self-serving and, at least in my experience, inaccurate statement. I report to Marketing, and I'm the one that's trying to get the IT department to recognize the existence of the standards we need to operate
Despite all the anecdotal reports of idiotic,outdated,control weilding,power tripping IT departments, there really are a bunch of CIO's who understand that they are not necessarily right on top of the latest technologies. However, they encourage junior/younger staffers to offer up new ways of addressing business issues. In many cases they will allow "junior" members to lead projects because they are "senior" by virtue of their technical expertise.
If there is a problem for CIOs these days, it is that their technology background gives business people the perception that CIOs are incapable of coming up with ways that IT can benefit the business. I could give you some examples of CIOs who have grown out of that perception, but the general perception is real.

Ironically, in the organizations where the CIO has risen to strategic prominence, it has less to do with the CIO than with business's perception of IT. Business people and CEOs who bother to learn about technology and its potential tend to elevate their CIOs to a strategic role. They understand that CIOs aren't there to keep the network running, in my research.

wow powerleveling lord

of the rings power leveling maple story power

leveling
wow power leveling

çeviri

Ironically, in the organizations where the CIO has risen to strategic prominence, it has less to do with the CIO than with business's perception of IT. Business people and CEOs who bother to learn about technology and its potential tend to elevate their CIOs to a strategic role. They understand that CIOs aren't there to keep the network running, in my research.

tercüme
ingilizce tercüme
elektrik
emlak çeviri
tercüman link
ekle
kiralık ev

kapı

I will continue trying not to leave the long way of getting a little bit more professional step by step…

dtr

The CIO should be all about innovation except that as a previous poster has pointed out, 85% of the IT budget is consumed keeeping the lights on. This severely limits the financial freedom of the CIO. But it can be done.

donanım - donanım - indir - izlesene

kale kapı

Ironically, in the organizations where the CIO has risen to strategic prominence, it has less to do with the CIO than with business's perception of IT. Business people and CEOs who bother to learn about technology and its potential tend to elevate their CIOs to a strategic role. They understand that CIOs aren't there to keep the network running, in my research.

kale kapı

chat

That's a pretty self-serving and, at least in my experience, inaccurate statement. I report to Marketing, and I'm the one that's trying to get the IT department to recognize the existence of the standards we need to operate
Despite all the anecdotal reports of idiotic,outdated,control weilding,power tripping IT departments, there really are a bunch of CIO's who understand that they are not necessarily right on top of the latest technologies. However, they encourage junior/younger staffers to offer up new ways of addressing business issues. In many cases they will allow "junior" members to lead projects because they are "senior" by virtue of their technical expertise.
If there is a problem for CIOs these days, it is that their technology background gives business people the perception that CIOs are incapable of coming up with ways that IT can benefit the business. I could give you some examples of CIOs who have grown out of that perception, but the general perception is real.

Ironically, in the organizations where the CIO has risen to strategic prominence, it has less to do with the CIO than with business's perception of IT. Business people and CEOs who bother to learn about technology and its potential tend to elevate their CIOs to a strategic role. They understand that CIOs aren't there to keep the network running, in my research.

wow powerleveling lord

of the rings power leveling maple story power

leveling
wow power leveling

Posted by: wow power leveling | June 10, 2007 at 09:50 PM

Ironically, in the organizations where the CIO has risen to strategic prominence, it has less to do with the CIO than with business's perception of IT. Business people and CEOs who bother to learn about technology and its potential tend to elevate their CIOs to a strategic role. They understand that CIOs aren't there to keep the network running, in my research.

sohbet

thanks..

youtube

good.

Emlak

Business case? This is obviously a real corporate bureaucrat talking here. This is just the kind of corporate rigid nonsense ?

Rudolf

Thank science you took M$ weight off your shoulders and now can speak freely about everything you like, good or bad…

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Tidbits

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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