In my experience, there are two types of CIOs. The first type believes that their job is to save their company money. They spend their time learning which technologies provide the most bang for their buck. They don’t have a large IT budget, so they do their best to avoid costs. They are typically on older versions of software. They might even have multiple standards at various locations that they inherited. They probably are developing a plan to get them on a consistent platform. When the business comes to them seeking solutions, they are there to listen and try to provide the solutions that they need. They do what they can with the limited resources that they have. A big win is negotiating a better deal with better terms. This savings can either provide money for other project or bring direct savings to the bottom line. They might have some big projects that are strategic like moving from Notes to Exchange or moving from on Premises to the Cloud. These projects while potentially time consuming and costly are moving their organizations forward and saving them money in the long-term. They know what their budget is and work very hard to live within it.
The second type of CIO believes that their job is to transform their company through technology and innovation. They spend their time understanding their business. They invest their team’s time with Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR, Operations, etc. They learn how they are doing things today. They identify bottlenecks, redundancies, inefficiencies, inaccuracies, etc. They document all the issues and try to understand the impact in time and money that these issues are costing them. They might try for a few quick wins to demonstrate to the business how IT can help them, but their big plan is to develop a strategic roadmap of where they need to be. They create a vision of what things could look like if they were able to eliminate or at least reduce those issues. They then take this vision and sell it. They sell it to the individuals that are having the issues. They sell it to the department heads. They sell it to leadership. Yes, they know that part of their job is to sell the value of making the change. They have done their homework and know the cost of not changing, the cost of doing nothing. A big win for them is laying the foundation for their roadmap and making progress towards implementing that roadmap. They get the budget that they need to move their company forward.
In the film The Matrix, Agent Smith tells Neo, “one of these lives has a future, and the other … does not.” I will say something similar, one of these types of CIOs has a future, and the other… does not.
During Covenant Technology Partner’s, 2017 IT Leadership, Phil Borgmann, IT Director at AB Mauri presented on Leading Digital Transformation for your Organization. His presentation demonstrated the second type of CIO. Here is a link to that presentation.