The CIO is Dead – Long Live…

By Daniel Antion posted 09-04-2013 14:57


 A few days ago Ed Laprade, a friend of mine and CEO of ADNET Technologies, tweeted about an “interesting discussion” which was started by Dr. Michael Gendron on LinkedIn. The discussion was about how, for a CIO today

It is less important to be the lead technocrat and more important to understand how technology can be used to enhance an organization’s competitive position.

You can join the discussion but don’t bother reading my comment – I will be elaborating on that in the following paragraphs.

First, let me say that I am in total agreement with the Dr. Gendron’s initial premise. CIOs need to be more aware of what their peers at the table are doing with technology, what they could do with technology (if they had it) and how to deliver the technology they need and encourage them to use it. In addition, I agree with Ed who said (paraphrasing):

“…the disconnect between those who know the business and those who know the technology is a problem that has run up and down organizations for years.”

What I do NOT agree with was the notion mentioned in this discussion and seemingly championed by Tech Republic and other tech pundits, that it’s time to do away with the CIO altogether. Oh sure, J.C. Penny went this route, as did the DoD and most recently the UK government – all well respected technology leaders, I’m sure. Mind you, I don’t care. I don’t have a dog in this race; CIO is not my title and the while Information Services has taken its lumps during my career, I don’t see it going away before I retire.

Organizations need an Information Officer to ensure that information gets treated as an important asset and so all information gets treated equally. If you make the “CIO function” part of another department, eventually the focus will narrow to the information flowing in and out of that department. Of course finance will see the need to collect and analyze sales data, and they will probably see the need to share it with marketing but who’s going to see the need to repurpose engineering information to generate interesting content for the company website? Who in accounting is going to argue on behalf of employees sharing stories on blogs and talking about new products on Facebook? Who from legal is going to encourage employees to tweet and to engage customers on Twitter? Who is going to tirelessly support an information policy that calls for the destruction of useless information? Somebody needs to be passionate about information and to lobby for the technology required to manage and fully utilize information in the enterprise.

You might expect me to argue that the CIO role could be handled from within the IT organization. I would argue that people in IT usually have a broader understanding of the business functions in an organization than most of their peers, but their understanding is biased toward technology. Marc Anderson recently pointed out in a blog post that “Collaboration is about behavior, not software” and in case you don’t realize it, information management requires collaboration as much as it enables collaboration.

Take, for example, our journey so far with SharePoint. When we (IT) first installed SharePoint 2003, we realized that it was ugly and lame, but we thought the potential benefit was obvious. We thought people would take one look at it and say “I gotta get me some of that!” About a year later, we thought that once people saw how Microsoft had addressed most of the complaints about SP 2003 as they developed MOSS SharePoint 2007, that they would take a necessary second look. We expected that they would realize the benefit of storing and sharing the company information that they create and use in the repository that only SharePoint could become. When Microsoft admitted that they didn’t know where SharePoint was going in 2010 (stripped away from Office) and again in 2013 (headed full speed to the cloud), we realized that “this has nothing to do with SharePoint!” What we had to market, what we had to sell was the idea that “those documents that you have are important!” Specifically, that some of those documents are important; some are useless and should be thrown away and some are so important that we need to keep every distinct version of them. Those documents, the ones we aren’t throwing away, are so important that people will need to be able to find them in the future. They are so important that people need to be able to call them up in a hotel in Japan, on their iPad in Washington, D.C. and on their iPhone while trying to answer a question and that’s the only device they have.

That isn’t SharePoint – that’s Information Management and somebody needs to be responsible for it.

Actually, I think Ed said that too.

#MichaelGendron #informationmanagement #Collaboration #EdLaprade #Collaboration #SharePoint #sharepoint #CIO #MarcDAnderson
1 comment


09-10-2013 16:45