Hopefully we’d all like to become better CIOs.
This is a great goal, the challenge that most of us are facing is that it just is not clear exactly what we need to do in order to make this happen. The good news is that researchers have been talking to the people that work for us and what they have found out is that we are pretty good at sharing information, but we're lousy listeners. You can’t be a good CIO if you are a poor listener. It turns out that doing a good job of listening to the people who work for us is seen as being a complement to them. When we listen to them we’re telling them that we care about them.
So now the big question is how can the person with the CIO position become a better listener?
Ah, email. What a powerful tool. What an utter nightmare!
The person who has the CIO job probably uses email so often that they no longer really spend that much time thinking about it. However, that may be a mistake. What we forget is that email is a tool and if we can learn how best to use it, then we can become more effective. The good news is that email is something that the researchers have been spending a lot of time taking a look at. Their goal has been to find out how we can become smarter about how we use email at work in order to boost the importance of information technology.
Let’s take a look at what their research has uncovered.
Having the CIO job is tough. Because of the importance of information technology, the company expects you to be able to accomplish a great deal.
The world in which you work, IT, is constantly changing and it can be quite difficult to keep up with everything that is going on. This is why you need to have the best team of people working in your IT department. Finding those people, getting them to agree to join your IT department, and then convincing them to stay is a full time job on top of everything else that you are expected to do.
Recent studies have shown that if you want your staff to stay, it have more to do with the managers that you have working for you than anything else.
Let’s face it, as CIOs we’d all like to be liked. We enjoy the parts of our job that are fun and which have to do with the importance of information technology.
It makes us happy when another large IT project is successfully rolled out. However, life is life and part of our job is that when there is bad news to be delivered, we’re the ones who have the job to share the news with the people who work for us. Nothing that I can tell you will ever make this an easy thing to do.
However, it turns out that there are ways that you can deliver information like this in ways that turn out to be less stressful for you and, perhaps, just a little bit more comforting for the people that you have to deliver it to.
The world in which we live is currently changing.
Over the past few years, as the importance of information technology has grown, the internet has become a bigger and more important part of both our personal and professional lives. Every IT department makes extensive use of the internet these days to run apps, handle storage, and communicate. The revolution that is currently going on is occurring because more and more devices are being connected to the internet for the first time.
What will the impact of this be for CIOs?
If a the person with the CIO job could have a super power, what would be the best one to have? The ability to fly and avoid all of those lines at the airport? The ability to see through walls and find the people that you are looking to talk with? These would all be great to have, but perhaps there is another super power that would top them all. How about the ability to see into the future.
The ability to see what is coming next in the crazy mixed up world of technology? This truly would be a great power to have.
None of us have this power, but if we take the time to talk to really smart people then sometimes we might just a peek at what is coming our way.
As CIOs we are faced with a complete set of problems that we need to solve.
These can be small, simple problems that we can solve just by thinking about them for a moment and then telling someone what to do in order to solve them or they can be the really big problems that we have no clue how to go about solving. It’s these big problems that can cause a CIO real headaches.
It turns out that that in order to solve the really big problems, CIOs need to use a different way of thinking about problem solving in order to come up with solutions that will really work for them.
All CIOs have heard about big data by now: the Tsunami of data that is washing over every company and the struggle that they have to collect it, store it, and then process it in order to create actionable information.
As a CIO, when we think about big data we are faced with a number of questions having to do with the importance of information technology that we have not had to deal with in the past. Is this going to require a new architecture? Will new platforms be required?
These are all questions that we are going to have to be able to answer, but first we need to make sure that we understand the questions.
As CIOs, every day is busy. We’ve got a lot of different things going on that have to do with the importance of information technology and it can be very challenging to try to get everything done.
That’s why when it comes to hackers, we are aware of the problem but we may not be currently doing anything about it. The thinking goes that if we run into a problem with hackers, we’ll then free up some time and take care of things then. Perhaps this is not the best overall plan. For you see, the hackers are out there and they may have already found a way into your firm. The time to deal with them is now.
Are you ready?
As the person with the CIO job, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the company’s IT department understand the importance of information technology and is able to meet the needs of the rest of the company.
There are actually several different ways to go about doing this. You can be the “slow and steady” IT department that rolls out new products and services after everyone else in your market has already deployed them or you can be the “first in” who rolls out new services before anyone has ever heard of them.
Wouldn’t it be better if your IT department was more like Apple and just got it right each and every time?
Can you remember the day when if you wanted to talk with your boss you would go walking down the hall to his or her office? You’d knock on the door, get called in, enter and perhaps shut the door behind you. Well guess what – those days are just about over.
Welcome to the new workplace reality: the open office. CIOs are being asked to make decisions about what office layout is going to be the best for their IT department and right now the open office is one of the leading candidates.
Being the person with the CIO job is hard work. You try and you try and you try to do a good job but it always seems like you are somehow falling further and further behind. There is so much work to do in regards to the importance of information technology that you only dream of being able to do all of the things that you should be doing in order to make your IT department as good as it could be.
In cases like this, it might be helpful to take a look around in the world of high-tech and see if there is anyone who is getting all of this stuff correct. Does anyone know how to run things correctly?
It turns out that the answer is yes – Adobe.
As the person with the CIO job, one of your main tasks is to assign work to the various people who work for you. As the number of people grows and the amount of work that has to be done seems to get even larger, this task that once upon a time appeared to be simple, can quickly get out of hand.
Over at those fancy new startup companies that like to refer to themselves as being part of the “gig economy”, they believe in the importance of information technology and have started to use both apps and algorithms to assign tasks to the self employed workers that they use.
Is this something that you should be doing?
CIOs at banks have a great deal to worry about. Simply because their companies have so much valuable data and money, the bad guys are always trying to break in and steal things.
As though this wasn’t bad enough, every bank is connected to every other bank. What this means is that if something bad happened to a connected bank, then your bank could also suffer.
In order to prevent doomsday scenarios like this from happening, the people in the bank CIO position have come up with a plan.
So CIO, are you a good manager? I suspect that most of us think that we are. However, over at the Gallop company they have just completed a survey of managers. What they discovered is that only one in 10 people actually possesses the talent to manage others. Ouch!
This magical 10 percent who have what it takes to be a good manager frequently realize 48 percent greater profitability, 22 percent greater productivity, 17 percent greater employee engagement, 5 percent greater customer engagement, and 19 percent less turnover according to Gallup.
Are you one of the 10%? Do you have the 5 talents that every person with the CIO job needs?
Let’s face it, when it comes to money, people can quickly become very greedy. When you take a look at institutions like the American stock market, the potential for people to do a large number of things that they really should not do becomes very large.
In order to keep things under control and make sure that everyone behaves themselves, the government created the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This organization has the responsibility to watch over all stock and option trading and make sure that nobody is doing anything that they should not be doing.
This all sounds like a good idea, but what should the SEC’s CIO do when they are the ones who get hacked?
One of the most important jobs that the person with the CIO job has is to keep the company’s networks and data secure. This means that they are responsible for implementing systems and procedures that will keep the bad guys out.
We purchase and implement products that require our users to correctly identify themselves before they are permitted to access important company resources. So far these systems seem to be working fairly well – the bad guys have not been able to guess how to defeat our security measures.
However, with the arrival of quantum computing this may all change. What do CIOs need to do in order to get ready?
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for a while, you may not be aware of this thing that is being called the “internet of things” (IOT). What people are talking about when they talk about IOT is the growing number of devices that can be connected directly to the Internet.
In a typical work environment this can include everything from copy machines, fax machines, coffee machines, and even video cameras.
There are a lot of benefits that come from this connectivity; however, at the same time the person in the CIO position need to become very aware of the downsides that are associated with tying all of these devices to the internet.
Securing the company’s data is one of the primary jobs of the CIO. As the importance of information technology grows and more and more of our data moves into the cloud, keeping that data out of the hands of hackers is becoming a bigger and bigger issue.
As CIOs go looking for solutions to this problem, what they are discovering is that perhaps the perfect solution already exists. Like maybe it was created back in the 1950s.
Yes, I’m talking about storing your precious data on magnetic tape once again.
I think that we can all agree that keeping the company’s network secure is one of the CIO's most important tasks. However, no matter how many firewalls we put in place or how effectively we implement two-factor authentication we still need to understand the weakest link in our security system: our employees.
What this means for a CIO is that we are responsible for training our staff to not make silly security mistakes. How best to go about doing this?
We had better come up with a good solution otherwise all of the fancy security tools in the world won’t be keeping the bad guys out.
If you were the CIO of a major bank responsible for the importance of information technology, what do you think that your #1 job responsibility would be? If you are guessing “keep the bank’s systems secure” then good news, you’d be close, but you’d still be missing the point.
It turns out that a bank’s CIO’s most important job is ensuring that the people who have trusted the bank with their money are able to both see and access it.
Over at the major American bank, Wells Fargo, their CIO has just dropped the ball and their IT systems were down for two days. This means that people could not access their money. Not a good scenario.