Stories by Michael J. Earl

Expert Advice

About a decade ago, when a collection of CIOs got together, it was misery time. They felt undervalued, overworked, under pressure and above all, frustrated. They felt they should be leading their organizations to new ways of doing business enabled by IT, but no one else would listen. After all, in the eyes of many of their business peers, they were techies who should be kept in their box, making sure the technology was working-period. If it wasn't working, well, the popular thinking was, we should outsource as much as possible and maybe appoint a new CIO who knew his or her place and was a strong, hard-nosed manager. And if this replacement CIO wasn't always seeking corporate support for another IT standard, an infrastructure investment or a new strategic initiative, but would be quiet and invisible, even better! The more that CIOs of a decade ago shared their frustrations with each other, the more depressed they became. In fact, I once heard a CIO remark that he would prefer to be a divisional CEO again and gladly take a 50 percent cut in salary too. Even the media picked up on the occupational malaise, and in February 1990, BusinessWeek carried an article suggesting CIO means "Career Is Over."