re: Why CMOs and CFOs Will Rule Above CIOs
The next few years may turn out to be the "glory years" for IT hatchet men, forensic IT auditors, IT turnaround specialists and IT experts for vendor and consultant non-performance lawsuits and other types of legal cases.
There are good executives and there many bad ones, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CIOs and CTOs. Sometimes the difference between a good one and a bad one is just your perspective, sometimes it's just that the objectives and mission have changed and a once valuable and productive member of the executive team has become a hindrance. Sometimes a bad executive is just the one trying to save the firm or just holds a more longer term investment perspective than many of today's CEO "fast times" wannabes. I have seen the sound warnings of due diligence by executives be heard as "resistance" or "building up a cost wall" or "not listening to the clients" just before disaster strikes and the painful arm of Sarbanes-Oxley or the Board of Directors destroys an executive like a CEO that should have never been put in power in the first place.
As with all misdirection, the latest MBA drivel, corporatist sycophany and vendor propaganda (remember who funds the author of this article - always follow the money), there is a grain of truth wrapped around an agenda here.
It it true that at some point all executives become resistant to change in their careers. Many also become so good at a limited view, that they forget the big picture. Although change is constant, it is also uncomfortable and sometimes painful, so many executives will resist it. Sometimes sound judgement is viewed as resistance to change when an executive preaches caution but doesn't communicate clearly the cost of unbridled change, especially when it comes to technology and business controls from an older CIO to a younger COO, CFO and CEO. Sometimes a narrowed expertise is denigrated because managers listen to some college professor or vendor "expert" with an agenda and the narrow experts points cannot be understood by others in the executive suite and thus a valuable insight is ignored to the detriment of a firm or worse yet an investor disaster.
Sometimes the agenda of a new CEO is to prepare the company for sale or disposal, and the resistance of those who have invested their lives in a firm who cannot shrug off the fact that their firm is now a disposable target on the chopping block, irregardless of their past performance, cannot be tolerated. Business is warfare, and many times what has to be done it is uncivilized, tasteless and immoral but yet legal and must be done.
Technology is clearly commoditizing rapidly and all executives must realize this. Executives should also be cognizant that it is THEIR responsibility to do the due diligence and understand all views, positive and otherwise to a decision. It is they who fail when accept the latest press and vendor fads, if they fail and affect the firm. I wonder how many CIOs have been ignored when it comes to Cloud Insurance, SaaS contract language for outages and non-delivery and cyber-attack damage control. A refusal by a vendor to add a clause in a contract is a red flag, not a black mark on a CIO that's trying to protect you the CEO and the firm!
As this article aptly states, CIOs must be more business savvy, better communicators, and more aware of their surroundings (including the Board of Directors). However, that goes for all executives and those who aspire to become executives.
The title of CIO may go away, but someone will always be in charge of the technology of an enterprise, be it the creative side (application development), the political side (user relations and education) and the "run" side of things - operations. They'll also need to be someone who can control vendors, consultants and answer to the latest fads like "The Cloud" with logical, cool and measured answers and true due diligence that explores the business balance of opportunity versus risk. People that perform the functions and lead them are and will always be at a premium, even more so in the future.
Disclosure: I've been a member of turnaround teams in various IT executive positions and audited dozens of fortune 500 IT shops. I also worked as a "Rent a CIO" and forensic IT management consultant for a services firm for 15 years. Rob Carter, when he heard of me through the demise of a career of a fellow CIO called me "the most dangerous man to let into any data center" and vendors used to call me "The Mongoose" because of my propensity to be totally unpredictable but assuredly dependable and deadly as I bit off vendor and consultant heads' off in court. The wonderful Grace Hopper, not Max Hopper, was one of my early mentors and Lou Gerstner glared but respected me when I screamed at him "You can fire me any time you want, corporate pirate!".