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What tech skills do CIOs need today?

By jmottl ·
A recent CIO poll indicates that the majority of CIOs would head back to school to bone up on tech skills. But what specific skills/technologies should they target -- let me know and if I use your input in the article, I'll send you a coffee mug or t-shirt!
Judy Mottl
CIO Community Editor

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A CIO with tech skills?

by UrNOTready In reply to What tech skills do CIOs ...

I don't know how serious those CIOs that answered that survey were, most CIOs I've encountered only care about the IT budget and golf tee times.

If they are planning to stay at their current position obviously they should pursue knowledge in the technologies they have and/or plan to implement. If they are re-educating to seek a new position elsewhere, then I think that they should pursue overview courses in the major vendor specific areas such as Microsoft, Oracle, Netware, etc.

Personally if my knowledge were out of date I would start with brushing up on general technologies such as TCP/IP, Internet/Intranet, infrastructure, and don't forget security.

Knowing the basics is crucial to learning the details.

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Highly Technical CIOs?

by James R Linn In reply to What tech skills do CIOs ...

The higher up in management a person goes, the broader their perspective and outlook should be.

A good CIO will hire top technical talent, not seek to understand it all, because its a futile task, no one can understand it all.

But if I were topoint a CIO in a direction of where to invest some precious time, I would look at understanding Enterprise Resource Planning - the integration of financials, human resources, supply chain managament, procurement and manufacturing.

In many companies these systems still exist in isolation, and integrating them can realize both economic savings and increased ability to provide information and services to the company.


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Exactly, Info Systems

by bilbo In reply to Highly Technical CIOs?

I agree with James on this point but would take it a step further and say that the CIO should be an expert on acquisition of talented people, an understanding of information systems (not just the technology but the business flow of IS) and the understanding of Workflow, data management and ROI for these systems. I have worked on many ERP/PDM/DMS systems only to see higer ups (CIO and their peers) look on this as magic and do it because they saw an ad in a trade mag or a spot on CNN. When CIO's understand the business benefit of the vision they have then the technology will follow.
Just my 2 cents...

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What can you train for

by James R Linn In reply to Exactly, Info Systems

and what can you pick up on the job.

If the CIO isn't good at hiring good people, motivating them and leading them, they shouldn't be in the job. Not sure I've seen courses that help that. Mentoring yes, courses no.

You'd hope to have a CIO with enough experience to be cynical about vendors promises(I would be censored if I told you the words my CIO uses about vendors).

If they can't build an understanding of the business by networking with their peers, they should not be a CIO.

I could go on, but I'd stray off topic.

The bottom line is you can take courses on some things, and others you have to learn through experience.


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Training for Executives

by Packratt In reply to What tech skills do CIOs ...

Golf lessons,
political science,
maybe sadism if there is a class for that?
There is the perfect executive or CIO.

Seriously, I really think they should focus on ethics, communication, and maybe some manditory community service as well to teach a bit of humanity to these heartless creatures.

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Thanks for the laugh

by Prefbid II In reply to Training for Executives

I really like the community service idea.

P.S. I'd hate to work for your boss.

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Skills for CIO's

The better the CIO is at the following items, the better he will do.

1. Understanding the technology of the industry (basics)

2. Well-rounding understanding of IT (fundamentals - not vendor or product-specific) and how it is used in the industry.

3. ability to read people - Figure out the knowledgeable from the BSers.

4. Ability to think strategically - He needs to be able to understand what the strategic thinkers of the organization recommend at a fundamental level.

5. Ecomonic sense & how businesses operate.

6. Leadership abilities particularly when introducing change.

7. The ability to put the company ahead of politics and recognize politics when he see its.

The larger the organization, the more he relies on underlings to get the work done and the more important for him to recognize those who know from those who BS.

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A broad understanding ...

by Enkedu In reply to What tech skills do CIOs ...

of the tools and techniques employed in his or her own organisation (to avoid being bamboozled by CV++ types wanting to try the 'latest and greatest'), especially what the organisation does well and does badly, and why. Ideally, this would be backed up with an understanding of the approaches used by the firm's competitors, both the high flying and mainstream ones.

This market research should then be employed in the boardroom and in meetings with senior execs to help them understand how IT can reduce costs/improve performance/open up new opportunities, and provide a 'sanity check' to this advice and to render other 'bright dieas' do-able.

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Nothing better than refreshing

by admin In reply to What tech skills do CIOs ...

an MBA and toning their ability to read people to near flawlessness. A CIO should be able to get the right resources (including the human ones) at the right time and place to have a profitable enterprise. After this, of course there are the human factors and quality of life- but you can't have these without someone in charge that has and can and demonstrate profitability. Like Art, a good workplace with happy people doesn't happen until it can be afforded. The trick is to get a CIO who understands (and can convince the shareholders, board etc.) when it is profitable enough and gives back to the workers, creating a good enviroment.

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… like a bridge over trouble water

by Jose Mir In reply to What tech skills do CIOs ...

CIOs are not in earth to lead a group of people in the achievement of the “great IT infrastructure”. They are not, also, brave knights whose legends will be written starting with “Once upon a time there was a small network that …”.
The role of a CIO is to provide to the organization the tools it needs to succeed in it’s own role.
Many times the technical people tend to think of themselves like “the company’s savers” or “the ones thathold the truth about how to implement the only corporate structure that will improve business and/or profitability”. This is the beginning of the question about what is the role of our CIO?, because I know more than him about computers, networks and software solutions, and I could be able to speak directly to the company’s executive!
Executive people inside the organizations could be thinking about what could be the way of improving CIOs business skills. The fact that we see “only” the technical training needs in CIOs is related to the fact that we are technical people (even if some of us are CIOs or has an MBA).
I always keep fresh Abraham Maslow words “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will tend to see every problem as a nail”, and repeat them everywhere.
CIOs must be able to talk business whit business people while leading the IT department or division to the right “solution to corporate needs”.
Yes, the role of a CIO is part business (to understand and be able to follow the guidelines of the corporate strategy) and part technical (to communicate with the technical staff inside and outside the company). Because of that the (never-ending) training, that CIOs must be engaged in, must be business and technical related.

- to be continued –

Jose P. Mir.-

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