question mark in front of face
CIOs face an opportunity to reimagine their roles for the 21st century PHOTO: Anemone123

I was at a meeting recently saying how the best part of my job is that I get to interact daily with CIOs from across North America, when someone asked me: “Tom, what are the questions CIOs today are NOT asking you that they should?”

Ask me how many times a year people breathe on average (8.4 million times) or which mammal is the only one on earth that can’t jump (an elephant) or even how many people are flying over the U.S. in an airplane at this very second (over 60,000) — those answers I know.  

This one stumped me. I couldn’t quite answer it at the time, but I can now.

CIO: Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

Today’s CIOs are challenged to stay on top of new emerging technologies and “fads” and determine what’s the right fit for their organization. They are challenged to bridge the gap between IT and business in the age of digital transformation, which requires agility and flexibility. The list goes on.

A CIO’s biggest blind spot is probably how they establish themselves as a strategic partner for the business and not serve just as a utility. They need to demonstrate how the right IT strategy can enable growth and innovation.

Here are four questions CIOs need to be asking (and the reasons why) in order to get it right:

  1. How do I recruit hackers? Rationale: You can encounter capable hackers when they hack you, or when you hire them to help you understand how they would hack you. Choose the hire over the hack.
  2. How do I entice my internal executive peers to steal my talent? Rationale: Yes, it’s hard to find good talent. It’s harder still to convince other divisions in a modern company to respect the challenges faced by the CIO. Placing CIO-trained talent across the business should be an important value driver of the 21st century CIO.
  3. How do I constantly reinvent the definition of success? Rationale: The modern CIO is awash in a sea of operational and technological challenges. Culture still eats strategy for breakfast. The CIO needs to show leadership by inspiring the team. Constantly set achievable goals, meet them, celebrate success and repeat.
  4. How do I become the star at my kid’s career day? Rationale: Let’s face it. Today there’s a huge generation gap in IT. Within a few years, millennials will comprise the biggest demographic in the country and make up more than half of the workforce. A lot of them aren’t looking at tech because they view it as a monotonous IT help desk job. CIOs need to bring sexy back to IT and tell their kids and all their friends too.

A Shifting Point for CIOs

The right technology vision and strategy can make or break a business. It’s the lifeblood of a company. Even today, most businesses think they are technology businesses. A recent survey of Fortune 500 CEOs (72 of whom responded) found that 71 percent agree, “These days, I consider my company to be a technology company.” 

It’s the perfect storm right now for a 21st century CIO. They are in the driver’s seat, not only because the success of their companies is very much connected to their IT culture, but because they can truly redefine the role of a CIO for the future.

And it all starts by asking the right questions.