5 Skills Of The CIO Of The Future

by drjim on October 27, 2008

The CIO Of Tomorrow Is Going To Have To Have Some Super Skills

The CIO Of Tomorrow Is Going To Have To Have Some Super Skills

Psst – would you like a peek into the future? Sorry, I can’t tell you when the financial markets are going to bottom out, when house prices will snap back, or even what lottery numbers would be a sure thing. However, I can tell you what the CIO of tomorrow is going to look like and he/she isn’t going to look like the one that you’ve got right now!

As Rodeney Dangerfield said so elegantly, “I can’t get no respect”. This seems like it could almost be a mantra for CIOs. A survey of CIOs that Information Week is working on is starting to show some big problems up at the top of the IT career ladder. Specifically, outside of IT the other C-level executives aren’t seeing the CIO as being all that useful and therefore the importance of the CIO has actually decreased over the past year. Oh, oh – this spells trouble for the rest of us.

So what’s going on here? CIOs are falling down in several areas. Either they are going to have to find ways to fix their performance in these areas or they are going to have to step aside and let someone else take the wheel of the IT shop. Here’s a list of what today’s CIOs need to fix in order to start getting some respect:

  1. Spend Money The Right Way: One of the biggest gripes that the rest of the company has about CIOs is that they are too caught up in performing support tasks. This means that too much of a CIOs budget is being spent on the wrong stuff: support, not innovation. Right now the split seems to be 70% being spent on support and 30% being spent on new initiatives. What does the rest of the company want? How about a 20% / 80% split? I don’t want to hear that that’s impossible – get cracking CIO!
  2. Know Your Technology: It sure seems like there is no shortage of new technology constantly cropping up. The rest of the company wants the CIO to be on top of all of this technology stuff, sort through it, and tell them what’s important and what’s not. The CIO needs to be a technology visionary that the rest of the company can turn to in order to find out what’s real and what’s not. Case in point: the converged network (voice, video, and data on one network instead of three separate networks) was big a few years ago. Your CIO should have been all over that. Right now Cloud Computing appears to be the next big thing in whatever form it ends up taking. Your CIO should be leading the charge to find out what this will eventually mean for your company.
  3. Talk The Talk (of Business): This is one that’s been hanging around for awhile, but it just won’t go away. CIOs need to stop talking tech with other C-levels and start to talk about solving business problems. It is the responsibility of the CIO to translate technology into business terms and use that to talk with other business executives.
  4. Execute, Execute, Execute: Quick – think of two words that describe your IT department. Did you pick “expensive” and “slow”? If not, then perhaps you should have because that is how everyone else thinks of you. The ability to deliver on promises made by the IT department is a key part of any CIOs job. The CIO of tomorrow needs to ensure that if the IT department says that it’s going to do something, then it follows through and delivers what it promised on time.
  5. It’s All About The Processes: Ultimately the rest of the company is looking to the CIO in order to get help in further automating the way that the business operates. Nobody really cares if you’re going to use Web 2.0 technologies, SaaS, SOA, etc. What matters is that what once was done manually and took a long time can now be done automatically and takes much less time.

Does your CIO look like the CIO of today or the CIO of tomorrow? Do you agree with my list of what new skills a CIO must have or did I leave something off? Which one of these new skills do you think is the most important for a CIO to have? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Daryl Lawrence June 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm

RIGHT ON TARGET! The most important advise I give to future CIO’s is be a business expert first and a technology expert second! Don’t misunderstand my point. It is very important to know the technology, after all you are a Chief Information Officer. But what will make you a success is to know the business side even better. Now that I wear two hats, CEO and CIO, I fully get the need for the right business decision. All the technology in the world is worthless if it doesn’t drive business growth and increased profits!! There has been a great divide between the CIO and the rest of corporate executives in this reality! We must drive the business using the technology. Too many of us have been driving the technology while the business crumbles and then wonder what went wrong as we are looking of a new CIO position. It is time for us to wake up and business leaders who know and understand technology.

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Dr. Jim Anderson July 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Daryl: I fully agree. Now, with that being said the real key is to find out HOW future CIOs can transition from being technology experts to being business experts who know a lot about technology. Lots of ways to do this, but finding the right business-side mentor sure can make it a lot easier…

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