Why CIOs are worthless!


I know that this is a controversial heading. I have, over the years, become rather convinced that the “typical” CIO (at least here in Singapore) is not worth the three letters they claim to represent. Although I will not go so far as saying that they are a waste of space, they are getting very close to it.

I have had the misfortune to be trying to convince a CIO that he should be looking at technology not from the vendor’s packaged marketing speak, but from his own hard-earned effort. Yes, he may delegate some of the excruciating details to those in his office, but he should be able to call the bluff when he sees it.

There was a CIO conference I atttended in 2002 in Singapore where a “CIO” of a SG-government-linked company was saying on stage that he prefer to hear from and believe what a vendor has to say about a technology than to have to test things out for himself. That bloke, IMHO, defined the low water mark of what a CIO should be doing.

While I agree that it is in the CIO’s interest to consider the impact of the types of technologies used in a company, he should also be looking at the bigger picture of where the technology comes from. Is the adoption of the technology predicated by a means to keep the economy in a sustaining mode of job creation or will it wither away skill sets and capabilities? It is kinda like the Kyoto Protocol on the emission of harmful gases that dictates the amount of Carbon Dioxide a company can emit annually. Come 2005, the amount of CO2 emitted will become part of the corporate health report and investors will be looking at that when making the all important decision to invest (or otherwise). Likewise, we need a Open Source Index to indicate the amount of Open Source technologies adopted in a company and investors favouring those with a higher uptake and deployment.

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