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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.

What have we learned in the past 18 months since the onset of the global economic downturn? What have we discovered about our companies' priorities, competitive standing, and revenue drivers? What insights have we gained into not just what CEOs want and expect from their CIOs and IT organizations, but what they demand?

What's different about the CIO job than 18 months ago? Or 12 months ago? And what's it going to look like 12 months out from now? And if you're tempted to say that nothing big will change in 12 months, I would just ask you to think back to what you were faced with in June 2009—while that might seem like decades ago, it was only one year ago.

I think we've learned that CEOs' tolerance for CIO isolationism has disappeared forever; be engaged or be gone. I think we've learned that a CIO can have all the good intentions in the world aren't worth a plugged drachma if the CIO is detached from revenue drivers, from process optimization, from innovation as a competitive weapon, and from the core themes that bind all other C-level executives to the wheel of business.

I think the unsettling trend toward CIOs reporting to someone other than the CEO is a damning indictment—and not of the CEO but rather of those CIOs who choose to fall back on what they know instead of diving into what their companies need.

And I think a lot of CIOs are going to lose their jobs in the second half of 2010—not because they don't work hard, not because they don't know their traditional stuff, and not because they're not committed to the company's success. Rather, they'll lose their jobs primarily because they have continued to resist change rather than embracing it as a strategic weapon.

And I think that if you recognize yourself in more than three of these 10 points below, you'd better schedule some quality time with your favorite headhunter.


(And I'm leaving out the obvious ones like embezzlement, selling corporate secrets to competitors, taking kickbacks from vendors and such.).

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1) Failure to attack 80/20. Several years ago, CIOs simply didn't have the tools to begin flipping this ratio between maintenance (for many IT shops, it now consumes 70% or 80% of IT budgets) and innovation (the lifeblood of growth, new products, and most importantly new revenue). The tools are now available—the at-risk component is the will of the CIO to fight a long and grueling battle.

Next come two deadly failures:

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