Global CIO: Why Do CIOs Get No Respect?

CIOs need to examine what they've done -- or not done -- that perpetuates the no respect mantra.

Bob Evans, Contributor

February 17, 2009

3 Min Read

4) Failure to attack the 80/20 ratio. For years, CEOs have been badgering and begging CIOs to find ways to unlock precious IT budget dollars from the dungeon of inflexible and expensive legacy systems and maintenance to allow those funds to be used for innovative, market-focused projects. And for years, too many CIOs have shrugged their shoulders and expressed the 80/20 ratio as a law of physics that is as immutable as the speed of light. But today, new management approaches and analytical tools and infrastructure technologies do exist to radically alter that ratio, and CIOs who have resisted it for years have lost enormous credibility because their companies have been leapfrogged by nimbler and more-opportunistic competitors. CIOs who don't attack and solve the 80/20 puzzle are doomed to fail, and insufficient respect will be the least of their worries.

5) Idiocy in the media's portrayal of CIOs. I put this last for two reasons: first and foremost, it is the responsibility of CIOs, not of the media, to demonstrate the business value and strategic significance of their positions and of IT. And second, when it comes to these ankle-biters in the media, I'm loath to mention them because that's what they live for. However, in the interest of answering the question at the top of this page, I'll swallow hard and do it with two examples of media lunacy:

Last month, a writer for CIO magazine's Web site said the following about CIOs:

"I realize that I am in no position to judge whether these men and women are hard working. But I think we all know that it takes A LOT more than 'hard work' to get to the top in IT. It requires political maneuvering, butt-kissing and kicking others when they're down -- to name just a few of the stunts people have to pull to reach the highest levels of their organizations. Does that sort of behavior add up to hard work? I don't think so... . We also all know that some of the hardest-working IT people never get to be CIO precisely because they cannot play personal or company politics effectively (or because they don't want to.)"

My, my -- I'll bet you didn't even know you were such a two-faced loser, did you? Be sure to thank the personality-profilers at CIO magazine for setting the record straight.

And the know-nothing media aren't done with you yet, you conniving and back-stabbing butt-kissers! Apparently eager to pile on with some nonsense every bit as insulting and unfair as CIO mag's, Fortune magazine's Web site offers this:

"There was a time when the geeks who keep a company's tech systems running could get by without knowing the finer details of corporate strategy. You called the chief information officer when you needed a server upgrade, not a strategic plan. "Well, those days are over. "This downturn could mean the end of the sequestered CIO -- that rumpled executive who, like Scotty on Star Trek, has limited social skills and usually emerges from the engine room only when something blows up. In these tough times, CEOs are frequently calling tech chiefs out of the wiring closet and into the boardroom, and putting their business skills to the test."

Yes, indeed: Why do CIOs get no respect?

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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