CIO in the Crosshairs

To counter this situation, Sommer suggests finding the money to hire business/IT savvy staffers. These folks will then help with the outside contracting that will inevitably go on if the CIO is to successfully execute major changes with limited resources. MBA’s working the middle ranks of major and minor IT consultancies are often good choices, he said.

“If ever there was a time CIO’s need to upgrade their staff, it’s now,” said Sommer.

“That’s were the CIO is a little stuck,” added Keating, “because the business people are starting to see opportunities … and the CIOs are still in the position where they can’t add sufficient resources to make all those business people happy.”

Keating suggests partnering with the business unit heads who also are responsible for the tactical execution of strategic goals. In this way, not everything is laid at the feet of the CIO. Good communication between the interested parties can go a long way to alleviating a lot of pain.

“Basically, the CIO takes the hit on a project not being implemented and the reality is; what they are trying to do is move away from the IT project and move towards the terminology of ‘This is a business initiative and all IT is, is one of the teammates’,” agreed Bill Waas, CEO of the Illinois CIO Exchange.

For now, unless something dramatic happens, the hot seat is probably going to get hotter as the economy picks up and companies kick into growth mode. To survive, insisting on a seat at the decision making table is a good idea, find good help, and get the business unit heads involved. If you do this, say the experts, while you may not be able to move out of the crosshairs completely at the least you’ll not be there alone.