Just got off the phone with the CIO of an East Coast-based $750 million retailer who called to follow up on a recent conversation (the other part of the conversation was off the record, so I need to protect his identity here). We got to talking about my first blog posting about the debate over the relevance of the CIO. My take: it's actually on the increase. "I couldn't agree more," he said. "Yes, [as a CIO] I need to focus on cutting costs, but we [CIOs] haven't lost one step on innovation or relevance." I asked him how he got to be a CIO. Turns out he started out at the same company as the pioneer behind their e-commerce initiative, building one of the first e-commerce extranets for retailers. After working on that for several years and perfecting the format, he said he "needed a challenge" and that his experience as an innovator won him the job as CIO, where he's been for several years. "You can't do this job and not be an innovator," he said. By the way, stay tuned to this space, as the company is in the midst of an interesting overhaul of its site that involves an approach I can't say I've heard being used elsewhere. I'm currently bound to secrecy, we'll see if I can get my friend to open up a bit about some details.