CIOs, Is Your Career Over?

    February 28, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The long-standing joke about the acronym for chief information officers actually standing for “career is over” may have a real punchline now, one that hits those C-level executives right in their employment status.

Rather than being innovators challenging the status quo of computing and driving their companies to greater rewards through technology, company CIOs have the weight of budgets weighing them down and a hefty paycheck that could be endangered by dramatic changes that go wrong.

“The Long Tail” author and Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson paints a picture of the standard CIO as a Dilbertian lump of pointy hair in a suit, clinging to a slippery rock while a rushing river of technology threatens to sweep the CIO away and drown him, unmourned and swiftly forgotten.

Anderson’s tail of speaking to a room of what he thought would be “technology innovators” instead proved to be a meeting of the Dead Weight Club. They obstruct employees from working more effectively using resources available from a number of providers online.

The users know these types well, Anderson related how these CIOs block connections to services like Skype or Second Life. People probably are more familiar with not being able to reach web-based email services, even at companies where Sarbanes-Oxley requirements for maintaining information integrity do not apply.

Instant messaging has been another bugaboo for CIO types. They see AIM or Yahoo Messenger or Meebo and their first thought is of hundreds of employees chatting away with people and not getting their work done.

They don’t see a customer service rep with a good contact via IM at a manufacturer getting a customer’s question answered in a fraction of the time it takes to navigate a menu on a relatively expensive long-distance call.

Control and trust are the big issues CIOs have. Anyone who has had the displeasure of working with or around some of the more glacial-moving throwbacks of the CIO species understand that paranoia, rather than efficiency, rules his office.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Companies can implement usage policies that permit more freedom in using technology while safeguarding corporate information. If a worker fulfills projects on time and as expected, but spends a lot of time on the big, bad Internet while doing so, has the company suffered any actual harm?

Probably not. Yet all over the U.S., workers will try to use something new, something different, and hit the firewall like a bug into an 18-wheeler’s windshield. The truth is, CIOs who stand in the way of their more innovative employees cost the company a lot more than the numbers on their fat paychecks.

They may be costing their employers a business edge, too.

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