Rotsa Ruck Senōr – The evolving role of the CIO

Rotsa Ruck Senōr – The evolving role of the CIO

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Kai-Fu Lee, Google's ex-head of China operations

As Dr. Jerry Luftman pointedly mentions in his book, “Managing Information Technology Resources,” (2009 Edition, page 157), in 1985, to be a Chief Information Officer (CEO), you had to be a “hierarchical kingpin, a dictator, a Technology guru, a mainframe bigot, having 20 years prior experience at IBM Laboratories, and possessing a Ph.D. at MIT.” In other words, being a big brain with a nasty attitude, having a high level of education and working at a niche company that’s unrelated to the current business for a certain amount of years, no matter how miserable you may be there. As well, one just having IT knowledge without being able to speak a word of business language to communicate effectively to other organizational members would “put one on top.”

Today, the CIO is a lot more. The CIO today must be a “visionary leader, a relationship manager, a marketer, one that’s open-systems oriented, having 20 years at LOB (line of business) management jobs, possessing just a Masters, and a minority (such as Spanish or Chinese).”

There are some big reasons for this change, which I will explain further.

One reason is that in the past, CIO’s were so ineffective in communicating with other organizational members and providing leadership that they had earned some derogatory nicknames. Names for CIO’s like “Career is Over,” “Career in Overdrive,” “Curious Information Obsession,” “Coding is Overrated,” “Cautiously Inspecting Outsourcers,” “Categorically Impossible Occupation,” “Chief Ignorance Officer,” “Crisis is Outgoing,” “Couch in Office,” “Curtailing Internal Operations,” “Confusing Indecipherable Occupation,” “Cafeteria is Open,” and “Career in Obscurity” (book, page 151) have abounded. Communication is of key importance, as is proper leadership. I can cite countless examples where things went wrong due to improper communication.

Being a visionary leader/relationship manager over a hierarchical kingpin is also important. A CIO who’s a hierarchical kingpin/dictator may mandate that processes are structured in a manner such that to use the washroom, one would need to impersonally fill out a “washroom usage form” (sic) with at least 20 signatures, no matter how badly one has to go. Suffice to say, the company’s progression in technology will go slower than a snail. There’s too much control, too much constriction, and many employees won’t appreciate that, save for not being motivated enough.

Being a minority while possessing just a Masters degree, today, provides one with a major advantage over one who has a Ph.D. while being a majority for one very simple reason. Culture in the US practically demands faster work done at a cheaper price. Being a minority, for better or worse, practically means that one can and will get paid less than someone born in the country where the services are being performed.  Why else do large like Microsoft outsource much of their work to countries like India and China (more so India since they speak British English, due in part to being heavily influenced by British culture throughout the first half of the 20th century)?

As well, naturally, one having a Masters degree will invariably earn less than one with a Ph.D. for the sole reason that earning a Ph.D. takes longer time, is much more difficult to earn, and  therefore warrants more money for the time invested.

So, one who’s a minority with a lower level of education will be cheaper for the employer. Cheap is good. I’m only surprised that Dr. Luftman didn’t mention that in the next 20 years one also will need to be a female since historically, females in a male-dominated society earn less than men do. While there are only 11% of women in CIO roles (source: Week 4 slides, slide 66) thereby making the future CIO requirements list “one who’s a minority, one who’s earned a Bachelors of Science degree, and one who’s a female.”

Is there anybody yet who I have NOT offended?

¿Hay alguien que no he ofendido?