Middle of the Road CIOs are Getting Hit by the Innovation Truck

By Brian Lucas

“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.”Alvin Toffler

The other day I heard a manager state that he was “a middle of the road kind of guy.” At times in the history of IT/IS that might have been a reasonable and sensible position. Now is NOT one of those times!  CIOs and IT/IS departments are being deconstructed right and left. Business executives are expressing their frustration with CIO inertia by incorporating, in their own departments, personnel with technical expertise and going to the cloud for immediate solutions that fit their needs.

CIOs have been warned, if they don’t substantially innovate, their authority will be undermined within the next three years; according to a recent report by Forrester Research.  Execs are bypassing the IT department and creating a two-tier system where the IT department maintains the legacy infrastructure while the new and high visibility efforts are developed directly by business unit based teams. “The CIO will potentially be relegated to managing the interfaces to the legacy systems of record and managing the underlying infrastructure” says Forrester.
Only 39% of execs thought IT consistently delivered value. Marketing and R&D chiefs which are vital aspects of business adaptability state that IT departments did not help them innovate.  “Given the pace of technology change and the business’ need to improve products and services and deal with rising customer expectations, this leaves IT at risk of being bypassed for services firms and consultants” according to Forrester.  While 59% still get their tech from a central corporate IT group, a substantial 20% now have a dedicated IT unit in their business unit or department, up from 10% in 2010.  If you are a CIO how can you ignore this statistic?
The accessibility of cloud services and mobile technologies enables IT to be easily bypassed.  Business execs are getting more involved in technical decisions.  As the mobile revolution supplants the internet revolution, solutions will become more agile in both deployment and development.  The end user targeting of technology has put business execs in a position to make important technical decisions directly.  They feel “technology is too important to the business not to be engaged and that IT does not understand the business well enough to be left to its own devices” says Forrester.  So, are you going to commit yourself to innovation and become an agile player or be run over playing in the middle of the road?  Till next time, keep agile!

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
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26 Responses to Middle of the Road CIOs are Getting Hit by the Innovation Truck

  1. Cecira says:

    nice article. i am a huge fan of your work and i’m always coming here to see what’s new. thanks.

  2. Cassiana says:

    you are a great writer, i hope someday i will write as well as you do.

    • Brian says:

      Cassiama – good writing takes patience and time and effort, there is no short cut. Just keep working at it and don’t give up! -Brian

    • Michelle Lamay says:

      I would put it differently. Brian is an important writer writing about an important subject in a very creative way. I do agree that Brian is a very good writer and appears to be a true gentleman. I wish there were more out there.

  3. Evelyni says:

    thank you for sharing. i like this website very much.

  4. Darlene says:

    I have been looking for something like this in Google so [glad] that I found you.

  5. Charlene says:

    Funny and interesting I love the pricture of a person waiting for the waterfall glacier to arrive. I am stuck in this model and I have sent to to all my friends for a good laugh.

    • Brian says:

      Charlene I assume you mean the Glacial Methodology post and not this one on middle of the road CIOs, but I appreciate the comment. rather than repost your comment I will just leave it here.

    • Dunbar says:

      Nothing to get excited about evolution will take its course and weed out the slow, timid and stupid. Just as it should.

  6. Anthony says:

    A CIO is in the hotspot as never before. Right now CEOs and business managers are willing to give a CIO more of a chance if they are trying to satisfy the user needs than those who are playing it safe and not rocking the boat. I definately agree with what Mr. Lucas has stated here. If you are afraid to take chances you don’t belong in that chair. -Anthony

  7. Billy-Joe says:

    I say if CIOs are chickens straddling the middle of the road in these times of economic challenge where bold action is required -RUN THEM OVER!!!!!

    • Helmut Drapper says:

      I agree innovation must become the life of the CIO as it is the life of the business. Innovation must take place in 6 month intervals or less with little thought to legacy investment.

  8. Killiam Halloway says:

    Brian as a new CIO I am taking your advice to heart and moving our applications to the cloud and implementing agile methods for most of our work. I think that playing it safe is no longer safe and not something that I think is worthwhile doing anyway! I was doing it anyway, but it is nice to see support from a professional blog. I read a number of other blogs as well. I like yours because you write in a no nonsense fashion and give definitive advice.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To be a CIO today is to be in the ultimate hot seat! The pressure to preform enormous from customers and users and the rest of the C Level. All this while receiving constant budget cuts. CIOs days are numbered its just a matter of time. Playing it safe is what put CIOs in the mess they are in now. If your a CIO you might as well try something you feel is risky because its probably your only choice. Agile seems to make the most amount of sense of all the possible things a CIO can implement in the IT department. Getting behind it 115% and spending all you political capital might in reality be the only way you can survive. I was a CIO and left the corporate world to become an entrepreneur in the green building technologies area. While I was a CIO I risked nothing and left the company in a weaker information position than I should have. It affected others lives and I regret that!

  10. Grant Bennington says:

    CIOs who are timid don’t belong in any organization. I think most CIOs are hesitant to act because they basically do not understand the technology or the concepts. The are too busy pushing paper around to act and most in turn have surrounded themselves with yes men who are no challenge to them. If you look at all the great executives they hire people who are smarter than they are, aren’t afraid to disagree with them and always push the flight envelope. Those are the marks of a great CIO!

  11. Braun X. Mann says:

    Evolution will weed out the CIOs that sit on the sidelines and try to survive by being feathers in the wind rather than true leaders. I say let evolution take its course.

  12. Ahzz says:

    Those who stand on the sidelines deserve to be hit! Ha!

  13. Dan Stone says:

    Its about time these road blocks were cleared!

  14. R. Hern says:

    C level managers have been far to cautious since the recession failing to innovate and simply driving the workforce to work harder. They deserve to be run over.

  15. Tony Grundhaus says:

    I’ve worked with too damn many CIOs that were worthless lapdogs of the boss and did not have a clue what was really going on in the company and were always trying to be invisible whenever a decision had to be made. Whenever they made one it was a total cluster****. It’s about time they got run over!!!!

  16. Bridgette says:

    I worked with a CIO that never took a stand on anything until he was forced to and then always deferred to his “team of incompetents” who were promoted like him because they were yes men and didn’t rock the boat. Needless to say the company went bust. Lesson learned…

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