The New CIO: C Stands For Change

What does the CIO role look like now, and what will it look like in the future? Experts at Interop New York share the key skills and traits that will soon separate the winners from the losers.

Laurianne McLaughlin, Editor-in-Chief,

October 2, 2014

3 Min Read

audience, "In the past, it's been OK to be the nerds that knew stuff. We have to get better at explaining our ideas."

If CIOs don't get better at explaining ideas and getting intimately involved with business projects and innovation in the way that Wright has, users and business teams will simply walk on by.

It's happening already, as Michael Healey, president of Yeoman Technologies, explained, telling the story of a project that he consulted on, when a retail company's marketing group developed a customer app and it failed spectacularly. The IT group was asked to help at the start of the project and declined. When the app failed, the project landed back in IT's lap to repair and then replace.  

If you're not invited to work on customer-facing apps -- or worse, you're declining to work on them -- that's a sign that you are not sitting at the innovation table in your company. And that is a red, flashing warning sign for CIOs.

"An IT organization that doesn't do innovative work is very replaceable," says Asheville's Feldman.

Politics has always been a big part of the CIO role, but the ability to navigate through treacherous politics and deal with strong personalities will be mandatory when a business is moving at agile speed.

That's one reason tomorrow's CIO will need help from IT lieutenants from non-IT backgrounds -- a real change from the days when it was hard for anyone outside of IT to break into the group of rising stars being carefully groomed by the CIO.

Consider the case of Dr. Veronica Daly, another speaker at Tuesday's event. She was an obstetrician for years before her frustration with medical software systems led her to pursue training in medical informatics. Today she is director of medical informatics for Atlantic Health System, reporting to the CIO. The CIO did not go outside to hire an informatics or EHR whiz.

"They hired me because I had the relationships with the medical staff to get things done," Daly says. Daly has to convince nurses and doctors to adopt process changes and innovations on the front lines, for instance, an early warning system for sepsis that the hospital system implemented.

What does change look like in Daly's organization? Think: medical staff wearing Google Glass in an ambulance so that they can give a blood thinner in certain medical situations.

Daly reflects a personality that is genuine, practical, and includes a sense of humor. I find those same traits in many rising IT leaders. Maybe you've met some cold, arrogant CIOs in your day. I think the days are numbered for that CIO personality. I don't see that person leading an Agile effort. I don't see that person embracing a Millennial who has an innovative app idea. I don't see that person creating the kind of IT team that can collaborate with all parts of the business. I don't see that person retaining IT talent in a competitive talent market.

 "IT pros, especially the ones who are going to do aspirational projects, are volunteers," Feldman says. IT pros who lose faith in the CIO will vote with their feet and walk. And that is a huge business liability. 

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About the Author(s)

Laurianne McLaughlin


Laurianne McLaughlin currently serves as's Editor-in-Chief, overseeing daily online editorial operations. Prior to joining InformationWeek in May, 2011, she was managing editor at Her writing and editing work has won multiple ASBPE (American Society of Business Publication Editors) awards, including ASBPE's 2010 B2B Web Site of the year award for Previously, McLaughlin served as a senior editor, online for Business 2.0 and as a senior editor for PC World, where she started her technology journalism career in 1992 as a news reporter. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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