Why CIOs Have a Target on Their Backs

08 September 2015
Mark Richtermeyer
The average tenure of a CIO tends to range somewhere between three and five years. I would submit in many cases it is much lower. I know one company that has had no less than seven CIOs over the past three years. It seems to me that the CIO always has a target on his or her back.
 
It’s a tough job. In some organizations, IT is considered a cost rather than a strategic asset. Putting good systems in place is expensive and requires ongoing maintenance, and even then sometimes executives can’t get data driven answers to their questions. Business executives are busy and seldom have the patience and tolerance to wade through complicated, unintuitive applications. For example, I know one CEO's password to his CRM tool (insert the name of your favorite CRM package here) is IHATETHISCRMTOOL. I suspect he’s not the only one with that password. You can bet every time he signs on, he is wondering would a different CIO make this easier for me?
 
The CIO is often the first person to get blamed when operations aren't hitting their metrics. “We don’t have the right information, and our systems are preventing us from achieving our goals" is a common complaint. And new systems take much longer to implement than anyone ever imagined.
 
After more than two decades consulting with CEOs and CIOs, here's some advice for CIOs:

  • Start from the perspective of the business
  • Don’t forget about the implications of change on the organization as they are often more significant than you think
  • Take small steps that provide value quickly, then extend steadily
  • Don’t underestimate the complexity and cost associated with technology, and above all else get the business involved in both decision making and implementation.
If all goes well you might not have to update your resume for another year or two.

Share your experiences. Feedback is welcome!

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