back to article CIOs: Are you your CEO's business partner or their gimp?

The title CIO is often suggested, mostly as satire, to stand for Career Is Over, usually by bitter people who applied for the job but didn’t get it. The joke isn't true but nor is it totally without foundation, because the days of the career CIO seem to be coming to an end. These days CIO is often a position taken by someone …


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  1. Bruno Girin

    "making a pivot table do a complete rendition of that Kevin Bacon sequence from Flashdance" See icon.

  2. mhoneywell


    I hope this is the first of many.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    From the school of rock journalism ..

    I realize you have to appear trendy and get-with-the-kids, but I lost interest at the gimp suit and locked box reference, reminds me of so much rock 'journalism'. Stop Press: I just got to the bottom of the article and see that Warren used work at Universal Music, so that explains the prose style.

    "It is also a known fact that the security of a website can be directly correlated to the number of tattoos on the recently graduated designer who got the job of throwing the site together for go-live the next day"

    I've got a better one, how about a fashion site that is thrown together the morning of go-live day that is to be demonstrated at a reception (journalists, models and officers of the company in attendance) at 6.00pm. The IT company (with the word communications in the title) managing to not informing their IT staff (who were not invited to the reception) that they were now in the online fashion business. I've got some advice for any future CIO, get out now while you've still got your facilities about you ...

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: From the school of rock journalism ..

      I would assume that the people at Universal Music, or the C-people anyway, are the most unhip squares in the universe, including North Korea with its new exciting adventurous young leader. I may be wrong.

  4. Cliff

    Played for laughs but some nuggets in there

    A bit like the BOFH, dig down and you hit some veins of universal truth!

  5. MrT


    Ah, that's why it's called a server farm... Helps if the CIO's name has three syllables, maybe of Scottish origin, and 'old' in this case is 'over 35'...

    "a website's colour palette gets two weeks of workshops" - only if the CMO has seen or been shown CSSZenGarden... "We need it to look like the the scrolling radio tuning dial, but vertically. And make it look modern, but in a traditional sense. It's not a big job, is it, because it only took a few seconds to change the way the whole site looked on the example I've seen..."

    Good stuff; keep it going!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Your average sales person has a technology quotient (TQ) that extends to a notepad and a pen, this approach results in people performing batch jobs at the end of every day with data that they want their sales manager to see. Switching this process to a real-time, per-sales-visit, per-transaction process that tracks what is being done throughout the day is an easy way to kick off your real-time data initiative.

    If a CIO, or whoever, starts asking salespeople to track their per-sales-visit, per-transaction, per-thought sales volumes, that is going to last for about two months until the CEO gets a report telling them that sales are down. They are not going to be impressed by being able to see that sales are down using a variety of different metrics. Upon asking the sales people what they are doing all day (which will need to be asked if sales are down, despite the metrics), they will find that sales are down because the people bringing in the cash are spending their time tracking their time instead of selling. That sort of micromanagement will also drive salespeople crazy and they will either start dumping in garbage data in the system as fast as possible just to get it finished or leave the company because they are tired of doing data entry every time they make a phone call, meet with someone, send an email, etc.

    1. John G Imrie

      " they will either start dumping in garbage data in the system as fast as possible just to get it finished or leave the company because they are tired of doing data entry every time they make a phone call, meet with someone, send an email, etc."

      Yes, if you make them do it by hand, and especially so if you make them do it more than once. eg. Time sheet and the New Shiny System tm.

      You need to ensure that as much of this stuff is automated. Take a look at how your Lawyer manages to bill you in .1 of an hour increments.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Take a look at how your Lawyer manages to bill you in .1 of an hour increments."

        Yes, but that is not a sales process, that is a delivery process. It has a straight forward, well defined process and set of standards.... any time spent working on or thinking about client XYZ gets billed. You don't, for instance, see law firm partners, who are basically in sales, tracking their time to the .1 hour increment when they are trying to sign a new client or following a standardized process, because it is a different circumstance every time.

        Not to say there there should be no effort to standardize and quantify sales progress, but it is generally wholly unnecessary. Unlike almost every other job role, sales has a pre-defined metric for success: the sales quota. If you hit the sales quota or over-exceed it, no one is particularly interested in how you did it from minute to minute. If person A works 80 hours a week to sell 50% the volume of person B who works 10 hours per week and doesn't seem to ever be around, person B is always the better salesperson. There are no points for effort.

        The only way I have seen this succeed is when you give the salesforce a really great set of tools that they want to use because they help them with sales, for instance The system also tracks all forms of activity, but it is entirely done in the background without any new input from the sales person. Even in those circumstances, the data collected usually doesn't tell you much because sales is so susceptible to different styles, approaches, customer requirements, etc. The company gets a slew of data back and, as in the example above, they will find that some sales people don't seem to have much activity... as they are about to scold them, they realize those are the people, or at least some of the people, who have been selling the most... and there isn't any correlation or bright line rules they can draw from the data. It doesn't work like an assembly line, despite attempts turn it into widget making.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      no no no, you've got it all wrong

      Micromanagement makes the micromanager important. Stuff will get sold anyway. If they complain, you just give them more crap. Raise their target and lower their bonus. They are people and people are a cost. Reducing cost makes you an excellent manager. If they complain, tell them that you can no longer tolerate such a negative attitude.

      In this world you have takers and makers. And if you declare yourself a maker, you're entitled to take a lot.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: no no no, you've got it all wrong

        "They are people and people are a cost. Reducing cost makes you an excellent manager. If they complain, tell them that you can no longer tolerate such a negative attitude."

        Reducing cost doesn't make you an excellent manager if you also reduce sales. You can reduce your costs to nothing tomorrow by closing the business. Every business can predict their operational cost every year with a great deal of accuracy, predicting and delivering consistent sales/revenue is difficult.

        "Stuff will get sold anyway."

        No matter how differentiated you think your product/service is, there are always about 10 other providers waiting in the wings to step in at the first sign of difficulty. If you are in IT, you should know this... how many VARs call trying to replace your current VAR? How many server, storage, systems management, etc providers call offering to replace your current providers a x% less cost? Things will not get sold unless someone is selling them, and doing a very nice job of keeping the customer happy.

  8. worldrecordguy
    Thumb Up

    Great article...

    Really enjoyed this - there are many hidden truths in here. The "Information" area is such a political minefield and it's true we need to be "all things to all men". I look forward to more from the author...

  9. PJD

    Now tell us how boards think about this stuff

    Ok, you said what it's like to be the CEO barfing numbers to the board on a monthly basis. Now tell us what it's like to be on the other side of that lie factory and how the CIO plays into that. With comedy stylings, of course.

    1. Warren 2

      Re: Now tell us how boards think about this stuff

      I love the idea! I definitely think there is a story in that! Maybe we will get to the bottom of why SAP projects always seem to get funding.

  10. clanger9
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic article

    Thank you for explaining my CEO's obsession with sodding Roambi. I guess I need to get with the programme...

    More please! :-)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clueless senior managers

    I was used to reporting my summary marketing results by Excel (for our MD) to our Marketing manager and he could watch what I was doing in detail through our CRM system

    Then we lost him.

    Result. All reporting literally every contact on Excel, printed out and handed to MD on a weekly basis.

    With arseholes like this in charge is it any wonder the chances of a UK recovery are deeply fucked?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too true to be funny

    A few years ago, I worked for a well-known charity. It had a website redesign. IT were completely frozen out of everything to do with this, because this was Marketing's baby.

    In the meeting telling mere mortals about the new site which was "coming soon" (it arrived about a year later) the head of Marketing was incredibly proud to announce that the design document had cost ten grand. After he'd outlined the proposed content, he was not so pleased to be asked, "What possible reason could there be for anyone wanting to visit that site twice?"

  13. zb


    According to wikipedia it could stand for

    chief information officer, the head of information technology

    chief innovation officer, the head of innovation, responsible for innovation management

    chief investment officer, the head of investments, especially at an asset manager or an institutional investor

    Even here and with an acronym like CIO needs to be expressed in full the first time it is used.

    1. MissingSecurity

      Re: CIO?

      Except this clearly being a tech site and the article clearly targeted at techies, one does not need to define the bleeding obvious.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    "security of a website can be directly correlated to the number of tattoos...

    on the recently graduated designer who got the job "


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spot on mate!

    More like this please.

  16. Inachu


    Todays CIO's just introduce redtape and slow down response time to fixing computer issues by making tech sit down and fill out forms all day on the work they did using a software package called "change management"

    Since we changed to change management software away from SAP People Soft not one of our tech's(20 of them have met their SLA's which is to close a ticket within 1 week.

    Gee thanks CIO who thinks they know better! Dear People Soft we techies sure do miss you!

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