The success of this former Salomon trader and computer chief is a testament to why IT leaders should be rotated into other business roles
So he made them an offer: He would finish the project before the internal guys could start it, and if he and his team didn't deliver, Merrill Lynch wouldn't have to pay him. How could Peterson say no? And Peterson got a kicker: 20% of the equity of Bloomberg's company, which eventually was worth $4 billion. So maybe Peterson belongs in my CIO Hall of Fame as well.
One of the problems most companies have is stovepipe management, and IT is no exception. So why not cycle the hot new MBA hires through IT, and why not cycle the computer science grads through the rest of the company? The quick answer is that the MBAs know nothing (OK, true) and will just get in the way (OK, for awhile) and that the computer science grads may get enamored of the rest of the company and not want to go back (so what?).
In any case, the corporation would benefit. Let's face it, what we call technology management is more often than not just common sense. Furthermore, IT is too critical to be left to just the IT folks. Look at Goldman Sachs, where the IT managing partner sits on the firm's management committee and makes more money than the GDP of some Third World countries.
When all is said and done, IT delivers a service. It buys hardware, software, and communications and integrates them into a service-level commitment, very much like a telephone company. It must meet certain levels of performance and it scans for new methods and new technology -- just like the rest of the company.
There's another case for such cross-fertilization: career advancement. With IT growing at a slower rate than it once did, people don't see the career opportunities they once did. Often, their only upwardly mobile option is to go elsewhere. But if the best and the brightest could see that the whole company is open to them, they would thrive.
So who is your vote for the CIO Hall of Fame?
Howard Anderson, founder of Yankee Group and co-founder of Battery Ventures, is currently the William Porter Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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