Is Being CIO Really A Thankless Job?

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jul 23, 2015

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While many believe CIO’s role is evolving and that he’s occupying a key place in the boardroom, a recent study brings to light that more than half of the CIO, CTO or IT admin staff (55%) are not thanked by colleagues for carrying out essential IT tasks on their behalf.

The survey carried out by IT firm ManageEngine, was based on a poll of over 2,000 IT executives and revealed a few perceptions were actually true: 44% said that being a geek was written in their DNA, while 38% said they left their private persona at home and morphed into a geek at work.

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“While some myths were busted, it was a surprise when some turned out to be facts”, said Vidya Vasu, head of the ManageEngine Community. “For instance, 55% had messy desks and the majority conformed to the ‘geek’ stereotype.”

Last year, a remark by John Roese, CTO of EMC, created ripples in the industry. He said at the MIT Sloan’s CIO Symposium that being a CIO can be “a thankless and unenviable job.” It’s a really horrible job… You’re intellectually at the bottom of the food chain with respect to the rest of the company,” said Roese.

Roese however was elected Chair by the Cloud Foundry’s Board of Directors which proved that CIOs themselves should strive to look beyond technology and move at a more mature, managerial role. As Vishal Anand Gupta, IT head at CMRI believes “The problem of lack of recognition will prevail as long as CIOs do not communicate with peers and managers to articulate business goals and translate them into reality.”

Georgia Papathomas, VP and CIO of Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceuticals unit mentioned in a blog, “IT has to learn how to speak the language of business rather than IT jargon. “We talk a language that the business doesn’t understand,” she said. While J&J isn’t an IT company, technology is increasingly being embedded in the products it sells, she said.

She also said that CIOs should ensure their IT roadmap is connected to the company’s overall strategy. “There is no such thing as an IT strategy,” she said adding that it’s only the company’s strategy that matters. As such, IT can take a business consulting role, and prove its importance, “so the business will not make decisions without involving IT.”

However, its time C-suite should recognize or at least acknowledge their day to day work. As many CIOs believe their colleagues often take them for granted that they’ll keep email and other application servers running, provide mobile tools, help desk and many other services, but often forget to seek their input for strategic decisions where technology could play a pivotal role. 

A survey conducted by network monitoring software vendor Ipswitch last Christmas found that nearly half of IT professionals (49 percent) will be on call on holiday season. While Christmas is an occasion for most people to rejoice, CIOs are the few that are expected to get sleepless nights. According to the survey CIOs keep thinking about work when they’re not in the office and time and again are getting hooked by some of the biggest IT network “grinches.”

All is not glim in the ManageEngine study however which says despite having a reputation for working long hours, 46% of the system administrators surveyed also claimed to be party animals and around half (48%) worked within a 9-hour day as well.

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