Chapter 1

The CIO Dilemma

The role of the chief information officer (CIO) continues to be a challenge in many organizations. Unlike the CIO's related “C-suite” colleagues, organizations struggle to understand the need for the role and more importantly how to measure success. We know that most CIOs have short lives, the vast number only last about three years. At CIO conferences, many CIOs have coined the CIO acronym as standing for “Career Is Over.” Nothing should be further from the truth. We know that technology continues to be the most important factor in strategic advantage among chief executive officers (CEOs). And we also know that there is a population of CIOs that have clearly demonstrated the success of the role by the sheer longevity that they have held their position. We will cover some cases of these individuals later in the book. This chapter focuses on the common dilemmas that face CIOs based on our research and practice.

The isolation of information technology (IT) as a department is nothing new. Technology people have been criticized, and in many cases rightfully so, for their inability to integrate with the rest of the organization.1 Being stereotyped as “techies” continues to be relevant, and the image seems to have gravitated to the level of the CIO. Even with the widespread importance of IT over the past two decades, CIOs have been challenged to bring strategic value to their companies—and those that have not done so have had short-lived tenures. There is little ...

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