What if CIOs were Presidents of Enterprise IT

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NOT !!  I am sure Intel CIO, Kim Stevenson would not advocate such a concept -- especially given that she is a fantastic example of a Next Generation CIO driving a new style of business.  "The worst place to be as a CIO is to convince yourself you have control, when in fact you don't," says Intel CIO, Kim Stevenson in this interview on ComputerWeekly.com.  That said, the election season in the United States gives us direct visibility into the personality traits of the various candidates.  Occasional glimpses into the spate of debates and town halls around the country leads me to wonder, “What if some of the candidates in the running were actually CIOs?”  The mindset and personality of the CIO can strongly influence the culture of IT within the enterprise.  Next generation CIOs like Stevenson are more likely to consider leveraging culture to drive change across the enterprise.  As I review the unique characteristics of each Presidential candidate, multiple CIO personas slowly begin taking shape in my mind.  Join me as I elaborate on the Mindsets of various CIOs, the Challenges they face and thus, their Call to Action.  Join me in this fascinating members-only tour of the world where these personas consider themselves to be the “Presidents of Enterprise IT”!!

Aggressive Alfred.

  • Mindset: This CIO wants to change status quo -- no matter what it is.  Being different is goodness.  These CIOs will drive behavior that is by design, orthogonal to the established, traditional methodologies and consider that to be a sign of progress.
  • Challenge:  Driving change that does not result in tangible gains for the enterprise factoring in the reality of existing investments.
  • Call to Action: This CIO needs to pay more attention to what the current environment is today and the history of how the enterprise got here.

Positive Pat.

  • Mindset: This CIO persona is defined by an almost silent, passive, but powerful mindset that is laser focused on delivering the right message at the right time.  Showmanship is not in this CIO’s vocabulary!
  • Challenge: Ideas and accomplishments by this CIO’s team are likely to go unrecognized resulting in Enterprise IT being perceived as not being relevant.
  • Call to Action: Take extra effort to proactively market success stories.  If IoT is introduced, show the ROI.  An engaged CIO is more likely to be perceived as being more effective.

Exuberant Elliott.

  • Mindset: Enthusiasm personified. The moment this CIO walks in, it is almost as if the conference room got a jump start from a high-powered generator! Wearables and gadgets are on this CIO’s person -- or their holographic image.  These CIOs take pride in being the first to experiment with next-generation technology and touting that as a significant accomplishment.
  • Challenge: This CIO cannot resist the temptation to embrace the next buzzword and succumb to the “me-too” mindset.  Race you to the Cloud!
  • Call to Action: Check yourself before jumping on the bandwagon.  Reach out to the business users and ensure that the technology in question is aligned with their needs.

Seasoned Samantha.

  • Mindset: This CIO who has seen Enterprise IT evolve through different phases over the decades and has experience-based insight into what worked and did not work.
  • Challenge: Applying yesterday’s methodology to the world of millennials.
  • Call to Action: Reach out to a diverse communities to better understand their mindset and expectations.  Continually adjust time-tested methodology with a healthy dose of innovation.

Methodical Morgan.

  • Mindset: This CIO lives by the Guidebook of Enterprise IT that has the basic practices and principles defined along with the manner in which technology is introduced and sustained.
  • Challenge: Living in a one process fits all world.  Intimidated by the need to execute and drive change mid-flight.
  • Call to Action: Relegate the Guidebook of Enterprise IT from the work desk within hand’s reach to the reference section of the local library.  Observe and engage with the customers to dynamically make process adjustments.

Those then are the personas that come to my mind as I take stock of the wide spectrum of personalities in the field of Presidential candidates at the time of writing this article.  While there is no one persona that fully equates to any one candidate, all of them manifest themselves in some shape or form in some of the candidates.

Every persona has a defining trait that can help CIOs be more effective at their jobs.  The art lies in balancing the extent to which various traits are adopted -- which in turn, could give birth to more unique personas!

What say you?  Have you come across a Seasoned Samantha? How about an Aggressive Alfred? What are some of the other personas that CIOs could have?  What are other “candidates” that would make the field of Enterprise IT more interesting?  Interested in moderating a debate?  Or for that matter, running for this unique office?

Please let me know.  You may get my vote depending on your persona!

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About E.G. Nadhan

With over 25 years of experience in the IT industry selling, delivering and managing enterprise solutions for global enterprises, E.G.Nadhan is the Chief Technology Strategist at Red Hat (Central Region) working with the executive leadership of enterprises to innovatively drive Cloud Transformation with Open Source technologies and DevOps. Nadhan also provides thought leadership on various concepts including Big Data, Analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). Nadhan has published 500+ blog posts over four years in multiple Blogs including HP, The Open Group, Enterprise CIO Forum, 1CloudRoad and Intel ITCenter while interacting with analysts from Forbes, Gartner and IDC. Prior to joining Red Hat, Nadhan was an HP Thought Leader and the Global Leader for the Culture of Innovation where he worked with the executive leadership of strategic accounts to realize innovative ideas that address key business challenges for customers. As the Co-Chair for multiple projects within the Cloud Work Group, Nadhan led the publication of the first Cloud Computing Technical Standard and leads the Cloud Governance project within The Open Group. He is a recognized author/speaker at industry conferences and has co-authored multiple books. Follow him on Twitter @NadhanEG. Connect with him on LinkedIn.