Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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5/8/2007
05:41 PM
Brian Gillooly
Brian Gillooly
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CIOs, Your Vendors Are Avoiding You!

I'm sitting in ballroom A at the Santa Clara Convention Center for Software 2007, watching Marc Benioff walk through a product demo (when are software CEOs who keynote industry events going to resist the temptation to put an audience to sleep with a demo and instead talk about compelling issues like overhauling restrictive maintenance contracts, promoting customer-driven innovation, and the like?). Earlier today I moderated a panel that included Dennis Moore, head of emerging technologies at SAP

I'm sitting in ballroom A at the Santa Clara Convention Center for Software 2007, watching Marc Benioff walk through a product demo (when are software CEOs who keynote industry events going to resist the temptation to put an audience to sleep with a demo and instead talk about compelling issues like overhauling restrictive maintenance contracts, promoting customer-driven innovation, and the like?). Earlier today I moderated a panel that included Dennis Moore, head of emerging technologies at SAP Labs, and Cliff Reeves, GM of Microsoft's .NET platform strategy. Both Moore and Reeves each dropped a mini bombshell about how their companies will approach customers in the future -- and it involves bypassing the CIO...Moore said that more frequently, SAP is side-stepping the CIO in the purchase process in order to get to the people he says are more frequently pushing for software features and functionality, namely the line of business managers and their direct reports. This is interesting news, coming on the heels of our own Defining the CIO research, which clearly indicates growing influence by the CIO.

But let's look at that in another light. Our research clearly shows the CIO is influencing his or her own business more, it doesn't mean the CIO has to be at the forefront of every sale. Moore and Reeves both said that it's still not possible to cut out the CIO from the sale, but the two execs did say that their impetus is to get the sale done, and that sometimes the CIO can be a fly in the ointment.

One CIO, Shaun Coyne of Toyota Financial Services, who was in the audience, would have nothing of it. While he acknowledges he doesn't want to be in on every sale ("that's what delegation is all about," he said), he finds this trend -- if it is, indeed, a trend -- a bit disturbing. Oddly, he didn't point his consternation at the vendors, but rather at the business folks with the organization. "There's got to be a level of trust for what the roles of IT and the business are," he said. "If that trust is broken, and they try to create rogue IT shops in the business, that creates more problems over time."

I'm going to fish around for more on this. Is it a disturbing trend or is it the last desperate efforts of vendors who are still trying to squeeze some utility out of a business model that CIOs have been trying to get changed?

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