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CIOs In Training: 3 Factors For Success
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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2014 | 3:53:22 PM
Metrics?
Jonathan, Interested in your take on being more quantitative in IT decisions. Maybe the CDO won't take over -- maybe it'll be someone who thinks like a CFO and does more hard analysis when deciding on a new tech.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 10:34:48 PM
Re: Metrics?
It's such a balancing act. You often need to take action without hard data in hand because a biz decision must be made and the biz can't wait for you to set up the systems, data collection, etc. But I think if you don't set up SOME type of proactive data collection and metric analysis program, you're driving in the dark with no headlights.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2014 | 4:08:06 PM
Customer Skills
Jonathan speaks from experience here. Another factor is customer skills. Especially in tech companies, customers want to hear from the CIO when the sales team calls. Are you able to converse with potential customers in their language, resolve their doubts? You will need to present almost like an industry analyst. That communications skill set is valuable if you have it.
SaneIT
IW Pick
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 7:28:20 AM
Re: Customer Skills
I'm going through this transition right now and I can say that everything in the article is dead on.  Many of use higher level IT guys tend to think we are good with people but honestly we tend to be good with certain types of people.  That means adjusting to the needs of people that don't look anything like what you're used to managing.  I've been called on to coach managers in non IT departments, called on to look at business processes that are far from IT centered and it is nice to see that I'm headed in the right direction.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/28/2014 | 1:50:54 PM
Re: Customer Skills
Sounds like JF's "get sideways" advice fits with your experience, SaneIT. Glad to hear it.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 5:02:50 PM
Re: Customer Skills
@SaneIT: I suspect you are more the exception than the rule. We're running a poll right now, you'll find it by scrolling the rail to the right -->>

we're asking "should all senior IT managers have some experience working in non-IT roles."

What are your thoughts about that?
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/29/2014 | 7:41:18 AM
Re: Customer Skills
Well I haven't been in IT my entire life but I have been here a long time.  I would have to agree that experience outside of IT is valuable for IT management.  I don't think you need to have managed non IT folks but I think working within the confines of the tools given to you and the limits that most systems set is a good way to build an understanding of how things really work.  We IT folks can forget what it's like not to be able to go out and get the tools we need or make them ourselves.   I've worked in HR and Accounting teams in addition to my IT career and I think those benefit me greatly when I'm trying to work through process issues that another department is having.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/29/2014 | 9:07:19 AM
Re: Customer Skills
I think IT + marketing role experience will be a killer skill set combination going forward. Rare, but valuable as those organizations work ever closer together.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 7:21:45 AM
Re: Customer Skills
I'm not trying to start fights here but yes, IT and marketing skills are not ones that I see mixing very well right now.  I see a lot of marketing push that relies heavily on technology but they don't understand the underlying function.  IT sees the softer marketing skills as a bit of voodoo and I'm sure marketing sees the complexity that IT points out as equally mysterious.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 2:35:35 PM
Re: Customer Skills
Plus there are other benefits as well, like suggesting any other department where one hs previously worked, on some models/ideas. It makes the work flow smoothly and develops better inter-employee relationships and also makes up experience from the one who's helping and the one who is being helped.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 7:34:50 AM
Re: Customer Skills
Aside from the additional skills, the knowledge that you have not always been in IT means something to other people.  It is funny to have people guess where I started out my career and they are surprised to find out that my first job was in a large AP department.  I guess as much as I might break the IT stereotypes I'm even further from the accounting ones.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 10:32:34 PM
Re: Customer Skills
You are! Keep in touch and let me know if I can assist in any way. :)
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 6:14:08 AM
Re: Customer Skills
@ Laurianne, you are correct. it is important to have the customer focus at the same time it is also important to know his boundaries when providing the customer service.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2014 | 4:58:23 PM
Target Precedent?
I wonder if people think a precedent has been set by the Target CIO resigning after the breach. If and when we see another significant attack like that, will "CIO resigns" start to get baked into the response playbook? And if so, does that take the shine off the CIO position?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 5:06:27 PM
Re: Target Precedent?
@Drew: I find the increased tenure of the CIO that Jonathan sites in his article more encouraging than the one-off experience of the Target CIO. However, I do think CIOs have always felt their jobs to be on the line in the event of a major security breach happening. I don't know anything specific about the Target CIO so I can only speak in generalities here when I say that if a breach of that scale happens at any organization the CIO should certain be placed under scruitiny and potentially dismissed. Sorry if that sounds harsh, just my opinion. Would love to know what others think about this question.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 10:31:40 PM
Re: Target Precedent?
The Target CEO got canned, too, FWIW.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 3:07:25 PM
Interop New York
That's a very helpful posting for people looking to move up the ladder, attain and sustain the CIO seat. I'm actually looking forward to attend this year's Interop New York as I know that there will be much more insight. The success factors explained above can go a long way to assisting IT gurus seize the CIO chair. I would just like to add on what Jonathan Feldman has expounded so well. It is important that you set a strategy and vision by determining how IT will assist the business and bring about positive change.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 6:11:53 AM
Business Knowledge
The CIO we had did not know the business at all. And he was trying to incorporate the software development culture, which did not fit in to his current industry. As correctly said it is important to know the business better.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 6:19:44 AM
Re: Business Knowledge
I like the fact "People first, not tech." we always need to work with people. Understanding them better and providing them with required trainings, opportunities and challenging work has to be part of CIO role. 
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 1:11:34 PM
Re: Business Knowledge
@shamika: I think the way to think of it is this:

Your employees manage the tech.

You, as their boss, manage them so that the tech gets managed in the right way.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 2:37:59 PM
Re: Business Knowledge
Office politics do not allow for such easy management. There always are other factors. IT employees are always looking for advancements in salaries/benefits and for that they are ready to be the pet of managers, and this creates all the problems in managing the Tech directly by the staff without the Boss overlooking the Staff.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2014 | 11:00:16 AM
Re: Business Knowledge
Exactly - we are handling high-talent people instead of pure labor force. Salary is not the only factor for them. In addition to good offer, they would demand challenging opportunity with a bright future and a team will good climate. So managing tech team is a challenge. You cannot be just a boss but also a coach/tutor.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 12:10:34 PM
Re: CIOs In Training: 3 Factors For Success
Thanks for this, Jonathan. Maybe most IT professionals don't sit at their desks thinking 'what can I do to become CIO', but then again, maybe they should start. Even if they don't make it all the way to that big chair (at least, not at their current company), there's no doubt that the suggestions you provide here will put them on the right path, and provide them with plenty of valuable skills and experiences along the way. After all, pulling back the veil even farther, it's often not the money that motivates people at that highest level, is it? It's the desire to be better, to improve themselves, and see how far they can go - to that end, these are all great ways to keep building yourself up.

The bit about people being more important than tech at the CIO level is oft-repeated, but it seems that's necessary, as many IT execs still don't seem to embrace it. That thought ought to impact every decision you make - at the macro level, does this technology project serve a business need? At the micro level, you need to build your relationships with other execs on something other than technology and your know-how therein - it's good for the company, it's good for your job security, and it's good for your mental health. SaneIT's point is very good - there's a big difference between thinking you're good with people and actually being good with people. Get someone you trust to tell you the truth.


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