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CIOs and Risk: Not Me, Must Be The Other Guy/Gal!

My parents used to love telling me how, when I was a lad of about two or three years old, I would gleefully throw my two older brothers under the bus whenever my mom or dad inquired about a broken lamp or a spilled soda.
My parents used to love telling me how, when I was a lad of about two or three years old, I would gleefully throw my two older brothers under the bus whenever my mom or dad inquired about a broken lamp or a spilled soda.Apparently (I don't remember this), my standard reply for just about any inquiry from them was "Jackie and Jimmy did it!" Didn't matter what the situation, or who was to blame, and many times I didn't even let them finish their sentences. I'd blurt out, "Jackie and Jimmy did it!" which in my young mind indemnified me from whatever punishment they might be seeking to mete out. That might help explain why today my brothers always try to stick me with the tab whenever we go out to eat.

Since we posted the column "Are CIOs More Risk Averse?" last week, I've heard from some CIOs whose responses to the column mirror that knee-jerk reaction I gave as a kid. It's not me, it's the other guy/gal. Everyone so far agrees with the column's premise - that CIOs in general are becoming more risk averse when it comes to many newer technologies, like virtualization, cloud computing, social networks, etc. - but most people are giving their own version of "Jackie and Jimmy did it!" by claiming that the ones dragging their feet on innovation are all the others. I suppose it's understandable that few, if any, CIOs would want to admit they're growing risk averse, but you can usually read between the lines to find admissions when there are any to be had. But so far, few are acknowledging any personal pullback in innovation while concurring that many of their fellow IT chiefs are getting spooked. However, one fellow, the CIO of a major East Coast retailer, sent me a note yesterday proclaiming that he is "not scared at all!!" while in the very next sentence acknowledging that cloud computing, Twitter, and virtualization "are not high on the priority list." He explained that it's not an aversion to risk, it's a priority issue. "There's just so much on the plate," he said. OK, but then why cite those particular technologies - the newer, untested ones - as the ones that take less precedence? There are CIOs that are, as the saying goes, not letting a good crisis go to waste and are leveraging those same cutting edge concepts (including those in the original column).

Meanwhile, I'll continue to keep monitoring the situation and bring you any updates. As I conclude in my column, it's the CIOs who are giving these technologies a chance - in some cases even without a clear ROI - who will build successful business cases and inspire the others who are laying back.