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Risk Management: A CIO’s Strategic Role

In this interview, Kim S. Nash interviews MIT professor Michael Cusumano about the strategic role CIOs should play whenever a crisis happens within an organization. Beyond just providing the tools to collect data for crisis management, CIOs should orchestrate the process and operation of crisis management in the organization, bringing to together the people who can make the changes needed to quickly mitigate the issues and get work back to normal. Cusumano explains how the CIO needs to be actively involved in any event, IT related or not, to help intelligently decipher what is happening and possible solutions: They can't just offload responsibility for risk, or for interpreting events, or for making sense of the data we're collecting. It has to be a collective activity among senior executives and people with deep knowledge of a company's and industry's processes. Since the CIO is in a critical cross-functional position, maybe CIOs should take on more of a role regarding how people are thinking about what information means. IT enables almost everything a modern organization can do, so it does put a special pressure on the CIO. Cusumano goes on to explain why it's important to have meetings instead of emails when to risk management. There is of course an allure to quickly sending emails to all parties involved, as it creates the sense that everyone knows what they should be doing and have a paper trail to back it up; but that often isn't the case. People can ignore emails; it's much harder to ignore someone during a meeting when they ask if you've done the work yet (or if you plan to). The face-to-face nature of a meeting can drive far more action than an email message.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI’s Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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