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Are You the Best CIO in the World or Are You Managing the Store?

heroStriving for mediocrity should not be the goal of any self-respecting CIO.  However, trying to be the CIO with the coolest new gadgets and techniques is no good either.  In fact, being overly concerned with using the newest and “best” devices can actually be rather counter-productive.  According to an article by Caron Carlson of Fierce CIO, a truly successful CIO must do more than throw technology at employees.  Although the electronic toys may be fun—and might even allow you to do work—they are not what make a CIO great.  Carlson suggests that “handing out gadgets” makes you look more like someone who works as a store manager instead of a CIO:

Trying to appease users' insatiable demand for the latest and greatest in consumer electronics puts the IT executive in the role of a store manager. If you have the coveted inventory, you become as beloved as everyone's favorite uncle–the one who always shows up with goodies and doesn't mind breaking the rules along with stuff in the house. But if you don't keep up with the capricious demands, you become as reviled as a punching bag. Either way, you get pounced on, again and again.

Store managers–and favorite uncles, for that matter–are not concerned with the impact that the goodies and broken rules will have on the systems around them. They're not concerned with what happens after the fun encounter is over. Their sole focus is to keep the customer satisfied–right here, right now.

Obviously, a very important part of being a CIO is being a technology leader.  Therefore, avoiding introducing new technology or new devices in the workplace is not the answer here.  In fact, making changes in how your organization uses technology may be just the thing everyone needs to realign with your current business strategy.  You have to think about each individual device you are handing out to your employees before you take any action.  Will this help the long-term goals of this organization?  Am I doing this to make my employees like me, or is there real value here?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself.  Remember, being the best CIO you can be does not mean being the CIO who buys the best toys.

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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