Whether becoming a CIO was in your career plans all along, or it was the last place you thought you’d find yourself, there is that thing that everyone who has ever had the role experiences: The First Day.
The weight of responsibility in the CIO role comes at you from many different directions on that day. There is the IT budget, the bottom line of which seems to get everyone’s attention, but, ironically, never seems to be enough. There is the infrastructure, which is highly complex. You can never take your eye off that. Perhaps a massive project on the horizon, like ERP. Then, there is security. Ah security… You quickly realize that there are people living all over the world who have never met you, and yet they seem to want to steal your valuable data and throw you and your organization into a tailspin. What did you ever do to them?
But, there is an entirely different dimension of the job and it involves people. First, there is your team. They rely on you to make sound decisions, represent them to the rest of the organization, and provide them with the things they need in order to do their very important jobs (which includes access to you). They’re counting on you.
Then there is the user community. They need you to direct the building of reliable and high-performance platforms that accommodate the technology that allows them to do their work. They’re counting on you.
Finally, there is senior management. If you look at surveys on what is important to them, everything on their list either directly or indirectly involves technology (the technology that you manage). A major transformation such as ERP has IT at the core but is driven by the people. They need you to lead technology in a financially efficient, reliable, scalable, and secure manner to support the business for which they are responsible. They’re counting on you.
I could go on…
Yes, there are all the budgets, contracts and agreements, equipment, and network architecture. But I’m sure you’ve caught the theme by now. When you become a CIO, there are a lot of people counting on you to succeed. And succeed you must. You will start to realize that technology is as much a people business as any other in the organization.
So, if I only had a small space to give a little advice and encouragement to you on that first day (which is all I have), it would be to remind you that, in this very unique and demanding role, you have the ability to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. No one else in the organization understands the whole of enterprise technology as well as the person responsible for it. And everyone is relying on it. So, if you are to succeed (and succeed you must), focus your efforts on the success of the aforementioned ones you serve. If you do, the rest of this will likely become a measure easier and downright enjoyable.
For research related to starting a job as a CIO, see Ease Your Transition From Business Leader to CIO in Midsize Enterprise.
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