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Message for CIOs: Lead or get out of the way


Joel Dobbs.GIFJoel H. Dobbs is the CEO and President of The Compass Talent Management Group LLC (CTMG), a consulting firm that assists organizations with the identification and development of key talent and with designing organizational strategies and structures to maximize their ability to compete in the business worlds of today and tomorrow. He is also an executive coach and serves as Executive in Residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business.  Joel is also a popular and frequent contributor to the Executive CIO Forum where a version of this article was first published.


IT’s job is to minimize risk.

IT’s job is to maintain infrastructure.

IT’s job is to push back when the rest of the company asks for anything not directly related to the previous 2 goals. – Ian Lurie


I recently had a conversation with a young executive who manages internet marketing for a large conglomerate. He was frustrated with the company’s CIO, and their IT department, who seem to have defined their primary role as saying no.  A few days after our conversation he e-mailed me a blog titled IT Department Wrecking Internet Marketing? It’s Your Fault, from which the quote above is taken.


The post goes on to recommend four steps for exasperated marketing executives:

1-    Take the web site offsite. Host it somewhere else.

2-    Remove it from the IT department’s ‘to do’ list. Forever.

3-    Hire an internet marketer. Don’t have the budget? Allocate part of someone’s time to it, get them the training they need and hold them accountable.

4-    Send your IT department chocolate. Apologize for trying to make them manage the site.


5 key initiatives for aligning IT with the business


John Mancini’s Forbes article titled It's Time To Occupy IT points out that many CEOs want to embrace the new world of engagement opened up by our increasingly connected world while CIOs and IT departments are reluctant to give up the control they enjoyed in the old world. His prescription? The business must demand that IT focus on five key initiatives:


1-    Commit to the cloud: Break down monolithic enterprise solutions into more app-like solutions that can be deployed quickly, independent of platform and in the cloud.

2-    Mobilize everything: Define processes to take advantage of mobile devices and mobile workforces.

3-    Make the business social: Integrate social technologies into processes rather than create stand-alone social networks.

4-    Digitize anything that moves: Drive bottlenecks out of old processes (especially paper) and make them more suited to the engaged world.

5-    Prepare for extreme information management: Find insights and value in all the information that the business is storing to improve customer engagement.

1-    The bottom line is being Mr. (or Ms.) No is not a viable career strategy for CIOs and IT leaders.  Continuing to use the 3 S’s, security, standards and “something I just thought up” as excuses for keeping the status quo isn’t viable anymore.  Companies have options and the more creative and impatient executives will use them.  Message for CIOs, lead or get out of the way.


Other guest posts by Joel Dobbs:

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