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A CIO By Any Other Name

Lots of reactions to last week's column about the future interplay between CIOs and CFOs, and with a prize of an InformationWeek T-shirt in the balance for the most thoughtful reply, let's get right to what you readers wrote:

"What I think is extremely dangerous is that most CFOs are used to operating in an environment where things change slowly, and they place heavy reliance on experts who are identified based on tradition and reputation. ... Those who believe they can use the old approach of relying on established 'experts' will be like a color-blind pit boss attempting to supervise casino workers sorting white and red chips: It won't be long before the players and the dealers recognize that the bosses can't see what's going on."

"After all, Bob, we have 'only' three things to do each day: 1) keep the business running well; 2) improve the business every day; and 3) define and aim for the future. We CIOs have an odd balance on these three; my guess is that most of us spend most of our time on No. 1 and No. 2. When we can reverse that, things will be different."

"While the CFO is the most likely to make the play to control technology (after all, we techies spend a lot o' money), the logical answer for combination of jobs is CIO and chief operating officer. The operations officer is the one who can appropriately make strategic decisions for technology, and the CIO is the logical person to explain how that technology can be implemented. After that, the CFO can try chopping at the budget."

Same thought, different writer: "Whatever happened to the chief operating officer? This person was responsible for seeing that all policies supported the strategy, that all procedures meshed efficiently, and that the business as a whole ran with as little friction and downtime as possible. Is this not what the debate over CIO/CFO is all about?"

"The whole reason for the CIO is to impart to the enterprise the notion of equality for all information constituents. How can manufacturing or marketing expect a full hearing if the CIO reports to the CFO?"

"The CIO of tomorrow will become an information strategist. The CIO and chief technology officer functions will be combined. Implementation of data projects will be turned over to high-level project managers who report to the CFO, just like the CTO/CIO. The CIO will develop strategies to tie a variety of projects together."

"We have seen the introduction of the CTO title and other such titles. These positions are technical functions, though. Who bridges the gap between technology and business? Who can analyze a company's needs and select and implement the right mix of systems? The price of the new technology is ever more expensive, the marketing hype around this technology is ever more shrill: ERP, CRM, EAI, E-commerce, wireless. ... If a company relies on the tender mercies of experts--vendors and consultants--it will be taken to the cleaners. The CFO already has a full-time job and then some. It takes a person with a broad technical background who also understands business to make these decisions."

"Personally, I see the CIO becoming more of a 'yes man,' bowing down to the demands of the chief knowledge officer and CFO. The CKO drives the direction of IT and the CIO just makes sure that IT strives to put the systems in place and continually agrees to unreasonable deadlines, thus placing incredible stress and hardship on IT associates."

"Where the problem you describe exists, it's due to an absence of leadership and the propensity to install people in the CEO role who have little experience or appetite for organizational management; it's not an issue of whether the CIO reports to the CFO."

"Instead of continuing to depend on the opinions of a fractional few, take the development of the company's strategic planning and forecasting out to the people it's most likely to affect: customers and consumers. The CKIA--chief know-it-all--will be responsible for populating consensus, budgeting, performance, migrations, and whatever else it takes to make good business sense to the powers that be."

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