Tomorrow's CIO: No Tech Lightweights - InformationWeek
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6/17/2008
09:45 AM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Tomorrow's CIO: No Tech Lightweights

Of course tomorrow's CIOs need to be broad business leaders, not just technologists. But skimp on the tech foundation, and CIOs may have no future at all.

Of course tomorrow's CIOs need to be broad business leaders, not just technologists. But skimp on the tech foundation, and CIOs may have no future at all.That's a conclusion that pops out for me after reading John Soat's article on Tomorrow's CIO. There's a risk of IT leaders underplaying the tech piece of what they do. In our survey, only half of IT execs rate "technical depth and breadth" as important or very important. Yet two thirds of non-IT execs rate it that highly.

The article's interviews likewise point to the importance of tech depth and breadth. FedEx CIO Rob Carter explains how he tracks developments in the biotech field, for example, for two reasons--because it's a growth sector that likely will need precision shipping and logistics, and because biotech's advances might someday, somehow be used inside FedEx. Dan Drawbaugh, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center CIO, talks of looking eight years out to spot tech trends that UPMC might want to consider, both as a tech user and as a partner in health IT initiatives.

The article offers other interviews and data that point to the need for CIOs and other IT leaders to be the company's guide to new, tech-enabled opportunities. Tomorrow's CIOs shouldn't underestimate the need for deep technology understanding, as well as business savvy, in filling that role.

What's your take? Do CIOs and other would-be IT leaders under-value their own tech expertise?

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