Bruce Rogow, who probably speaks with more CIOs than anyone else about the most intimate details of their business lives, has offered 12 interrelated reasons behind the current upheaval in the CIO position and future. Bruce originally submitted these thoughts as a comment on our CIOs Uncensored blog, but because his ideas are particularly germane to this vital subject, I'm reconstituting them here.
I'm willing to bet you'll find that at least half of Rogow's 12 reasons apply in some way to your own situation, and so I have to ask: How did you cope with these issues? Do you think we're caught in a temporary period of flux, or have we entered an entirely new phase for CIOs? Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now on to Dr. Rogow's theories:
"In some firms, the CIO role lost credibility and stature by bullying firms into a string of 'we must do's or the sky will fall.' "
"In others, IT is not seen as critical."
"In others, the [executive] search firm and the incoming CIO demanded the CIO report to the CEO. The CEO agreed, and then a year later had to rationalize [his] team, dropping the CIO off the roll of corporate officers."
"In others, the power has passed to the business unit and the CIO is struggling for their role."
"My experience is that very few firms have a fit-for-purpose understanding of the role of the CIO and understand how to properly engage and empower the IT exec."
"Sometimes [the companies] expect too much. Sometimes too little. Yes, it is the CIO's responsibility to build an understanding of their role, but that can be a tough task."
"In my Odyssey visits, I see power shifting to business units and end users."
Rogow sees "the cresting of the centralization/commoditization of IT."
There is an unending "need for better customer experiences."
There is a similarly relentless "need for more-collaborative approaches" and "more technologies such as SOA."
While it's enormously frustrating to many that this is still the case, Rogow adds that on top of these other missing elements is "most critically a need to actually enhance the business."
All of this, Rogow says, leads to a paradox that places at least as much onus on the employer as the CIO: "These trends would [seem to] demand the role and required influence of the CIO should grow as more and more firms find themselves with yard-sale-style architectures. But, as we probably all have observed, few firms are organized for the future."
Sound familiar? Maybe too familiar? Well, as a great philosopher once put it, if it were easy to be a CIO, then anybody could do it.
If you'd like to explore more of Bruce Rogow's work, here are some of his featured articles from InformationWeek.com:
I think the critical element centers on how you and your company view change -- and by change I don't mean just an upgrade to the new version of Excel. Rather, I'm talking about changes in your company's market dynamics, customer sets, product lines, executive leadership, manufacturing priorities, global operations, compensation, hiring plans, outsourcing strategy, priority on customers, and then after all that, technology change. Do you lead these types of change, or do you just compile lists of potential risks? Are you a force for innovation, or is your motto "the status quo is fine"? Do you lead, do you follow, or do you just wish things would get back to how they used to be when everything stayed pretty much the same?
The answer to that question will play a huge part in determining what role you play in the great CIO Disappearing Act of 2007: Will you be one of those who goes poof, or will you embrace business-driven and customer-focused change as a source of competitive advantage?