If you're a CIO, what keeps you up at night? Given the goals and strategies of most executives holding this post, it goes without saying that there are fears involved, and this year, they seem to be multiplying.
Being a CIO was never an easy job, but in these times of big data and corporate realignment, it seems to be getting harder -- despite rosy talk of the post as a unifying enterprise force. Taking off the rose-colored glasses for a moment, a glance at recent headlines and a bit of digging quickly produce some answers about the hidden hobgoblins haunting CIOs today.
Security risks: The online threats to enterprises these days seem legion, and they top the list of CIO concerns. Whether the danger comes from insiders, hackers, or malware, it's no longer sufficient to meet it on a case-by-case basis. Instead, experts say it's time to apply analytics and intelligence to the problem and take a "platform approach" to security. And that calls for strong leadership from the CIO.
Drowning in data: Coping with the explosion of data from a range of sources tops the list of issues facing CIOs worldwide. As reflected in an IBM survey of more than 3,000 CIOs worldwide, the big data issue is central to the task of a present-day CIO -- and the source of a large amount of concern. The problems presented by this data seem to proliferate quarterly, extending into every realm of IT, including physical systems and storage, virtualization, and enterprise applications.
Choosing the wrong outsourcer(s): Despite much hype about the benefits of cloud computing, CIOs reasonably fear the potential for problems with cloud providers and other outsourcers. Whether trouble takes the form of a lack of backup support in the event of an outage (a common problem with cloud providers, by the way) or overcharging for unneeded features, mistakes with service providers can be complicated and costly -- and damaging to one's career. The best advice is for CIOs to work with their legal teams on contracts that will ensure they get what they want -- and what they're paying for.
Disaster and data loss:Natural disasters. Software failure. In whatever form it comes, disaster is a risk that must be factored into the CIO's strategy. And it's not always easy to evaluate. Still, it's vital to have contingency plans in place that ensure that acts of God or machinery won't result in a business catastrophe. No wonder cyberliability insurance is gaining in popularity.
The BYOD challenge: What CIO isn't concerned about the impact of the "bring your own device" trend among end users? It may seem inevitable that users would wish to deploy their favorite smartphones and tablets at work, but the problems of doing so also are inevitable. These include exposing enterprise systems to malware and simply pushing control out of IT's hands, creating a serious management problem. (See preceding sections on "Security risks" and "Disaster and data loss.") CIOs look to policies, education, communication -- and hope for the best.
Losing power and control over IT: It's great to pay lip service to collaborating with other C-suiters and solving problems for internal partners, but there is some evidence that, instead of expanding their role within the organization, many CIOs are losing control over IT and relinquishing control to the CFO. In a Gartner survey last year, analysts found that in 42 percent of surveyed enterprises, the CIO answered to the CFO, while CIOs reported directly to the CEO in 33 percent of surveyed organizations. One solution may be to combine the roles of CIO and CFO, but that seems to be still relativey rare.
Failure of IT integration: Most CIOs these days see their role as one of chief facilitator, tasked with integrating IT and business processes and acting as translator between IT and the business. Here is how John McDermott, CIO of Xerox Corp., put it in response to the IBM CIO survey mentioned above: "The alignment of strategy, structure, and process is critical and IT plays a surprisingly large and important role in that. When these three are in perfect clarity, the business model is simplified and an enormous number of good things will happen." Conversely, when these factors are misaligned, a CIO's nightmare scenario intrudes.
Certainly, there are more CIO fears than those listed above, but given the current economic climate and the issues facing enterprises of all sizes, these are a solid start. Perhaps next year will see some of these issues shrink into paper tigers. Then again, perhaps not.
I'm actually drafting an article for my personal blog (which I hope to have live soon) to address the issue of businesses not actually taking advantage of the assets they already have.
In this case, the company already knows the salesperson is their strongest player. Additionally, he's told me how much work he puts into his network and it's not something easily imitated... or rather, it's a simple concept but more work than most would do voluntarily.
What I've found in the past that the fastest way to get a point across is to talk money, so I'd do an assessment on the dollar value of the salesperson, his network and his influence (either in terms of business or in terms of what it'd cost the business as far as the closest substitute). Once I've gotten the numbers, then I'd note how much would be lost if he was not available. I'd then point out how much the company might be able to retain if they work to become a permanent part of his network.
So if their star player becomes a contact with an influential person, they need to get him to introduce the company to the contact as well. If the contact becomes their follower too, then they don't lose the follower when he leaves.
I do agree with you that the transition won't be an easy. I think it is all about keeping pace with the technological landscape and if businesses want to be an integral part of the global e-business landscape, they should be ready and willing to embrace these cultural changes. It does not serve a business any long term good to be a late adopter when it comes to these emerging technologies. There is so much experimenting going on that being a late adopter will put you in a competitive disadavtange.
The challenges/fears you mentioned won't go away in 2012 or even ten years down the road. It is just a matter of accepting the fact that the businesses that are proactive enough in meering these challenges headon are the ones that stand to be the leaders in the new economy.
Mary -- employees who do well with social media will always take their network with them. It's simply a matter of taking advantage of the star player while the person is available.
Look at it this way -- if the company doesn't favour a star performer with a great social network, then the company gets no access to said network. The company gains nothing when the person leaves (and if we're talking star player, then said person is going to leave especially if the company doesn't give them the leverage to really use their talents)
Now if the company does favour a star performer with a great social network, then while the person is there the company should do it's best to engage as many people in the star performer's network as possible -- even if said star performer also manages the company's account. If the company does its job, then even when the star performer leaves the company will retain the majority of followers that became engaged while the star was still there.
If the star performer leaves and none of the followers remain with the company, then it's the companies' fault for not engaging them while the star was still there. Handicapping the asset just means that the company gains nothing while the person is there for the sake of not losing anything when the person leaves.
Thanks for your comments, Paul. Sure, the challenges facing CIOs present opportunities. But I think in many cases organizations will have to change significantly before the challenges can morph directly into opportunities. It's going to be a difficult transition.
Thanks for your blog. I don't necessarily see them as fears in the way you described them as things that will keep CIO awake in the night. In an information economy that is driven by the internet, the CIO is bound to become a central figure and one whose role will have to undergo very drastic transformation. A CIO with a 20th century mnetality just can't survive the rigors and expectations of the current economic, business and financial landscape.
The challenges yu mentioned look certainly formidable but it is not that the CIOs are without help. With those challenges come opportunities for the CIO to cement his/her place as not only the 'IT guy' of the 20th century but the dynamic business leader of the 21st century.
I think the issue is that companies need to recognize people who are strong players. If one is well connected and has a strong following, the company should upgrade the person's privileges to match. One size does not fit all and not all employees should be treated the same.
And just like how strong social media employees should be allowed more freedoms, perhaps CIO's could take the same approach to BYOD. Let the employees who can prove a good track record use their own (they'll probably perform better). It's not a universal solution of course considering size and infrastructure issues but it could have some serious performance benefits depending on the employee.
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