Global CIO: 10 Reasons CIOs Will Get Fired This Year

The business world has changed fundamentally, but some CIOs cling to the past. And the price they'll pay is losing their jobs.

Bob Evans, Contributor

June 10, 2010

5 Min Read

2) Failure to embrace mobility. In just the past few weeks, two of the world's most influential IT vendors—Hewlett-Packard and SAP—have stated very publicly that mobile will unequivocally become the primary enterprise computing output device in very short order. They're not saying that to try flog thei own mobile products—right now, each company generates more than 95% and probably more than 99% of its revenue from traditional computing platforms. But that's changing rapidly, and the customers of HP and of SAP are clearly telling them that mobility must be #1.

3) A failure to lead. Successful CIOs surround themselves with superb technologists, and focus instead on leadership, particularly in leading the synchronization of IT operations and capabilities with business opportunities and customers. If you want to run infrastructure, that's great—but first, demand that your title be changed to IT director and your compensation be cut by 40%.

4) Misplaced priorities. UPS CIO Dave Barnes said it's hard for him and his team to stray into unproductive areas because, as he put it, "I can give you our IT strategy in two words: it's our business strategy." Are you clear—perfectly, unmistakably, unwaveringly clear—on your company's business strategy and your team's IT strategy? Can you prove with precision that all of your team's time and energy and focus are being applied to what is most vital to the company overall?

5) Revenue involvement. I'm always astonished when CIOs deflect this concept and say that "it's not my job to sell"—if that's indeed the case, then why keep you around at all? Why not just ship the whole danged IT operation off to a lower-cost IT-services provider? Can you really expect to survive as a cost center that's detached from the revenue that keeps your company alive?

6) Revenue enhancement. How often do you meet with your C-level peers and LOB heads to ask how technology and enhanced processes and new capabilities can help them increase revenue and profits? If the CEO popped into your office right now and said, "Show me your list of ideas for using all this stuff to drive more sales," what would your list look like—a few ideas from a strategy meeting in 2007? Some random doodling done at a conference you recently attended? Or could you show—clearly—that you know your primary job is to help the company grow and succeed rather than to run infrastructure?

7) Customer engagement. Do you have a "Enhancing Customer Engagement" plan? If so, have you pushed it beyond plan to reality? If not, why not—will you try to make your case to the CEO that in the age of Amazon and iTunes and Twitter and apps for everything, you don't feel the IT organization can be bothered with enhancing customer intimacy?

8) Cloudy on the cloud. CIOs must by now have a forceful and vigorous plan for how the cloud does or does not fit into their plans. If you think it's a fad, great—make that case, show all the question marks, point to the various pockets of uncertainty, and be sure to explain away why so many companies have begun to embrace the strategy as a vital game-changer. If you think it's real, have an aggressive deployment plan with risk-management analyses, cost comparisons, and most of all business-value analyses.

9) Real-time awareness. Lots of companies have said lots of things about real-time business in the past few years, but the reality of it is upon us. Beyond the technologies involved—beyond the debates of whether in-memory databases are a new or old idea—what are the implications? How would the ability to do real-time analytics feeding real-time decisions change how your business operates? How could it help you engage more deeply with customers and generate more revenue and manage inventory more productively and reach more buyers at the precise point when they're ready to buy?

10) The power of transformation. Everyone's talking about it, everyone's using the term—but what, really, does it mean to your company? To your IT organization? To your customers? If CIOs let themselves be the wagging tail on this, well, then they deserve the general view and environment that's provided by the tail and its proximate parts. Instead, CIOs need to take all of the positive aspects of all of the elements on this list and roll them into an active and forward-looking vision for how IT can become a profound engine for helping the CEO and the entire company create the future rather than merely replicating the past.

That's my list; please share yours.

RECOMMENDED READING: Global CIO: Oracle's Larry Ellison Embraces Cloud Computing's 'Idiocy' Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard's Missing Link Is Analytics Global CIO: In Praise Of Mark Hurd's 9,000 Layoffs at Hewlett-Packard Global CIO: What Is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's #1 Competitive Statistic? Global CIO: The Innovation Revolution And IT's Indispensable Role GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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