Archives For CIO pressures

dhs_headCIOs Must Change or Risk Unemployment!

Are you watching the news, reading the CIO reports, or talking with IT business leaders about the future?  Things are changing quickly…

Read this…

“CIOs should take an active role in
helping their companies undertake
deep digital transformation, by ignoring
business processes and focusing
instead on how their organizations
make money,” writes Michael Higgins
in a recent WSJ article.

Isn’t this what the CIO job is all about?  Custodial Responsibility over the data center…


“The enemy of digital innovation is the
concept of business process,” – Gartner
analyst David Aron

Special Report on CIOs and Technology Providers

This week I published a special report on the CIO, CISO, and CDO (Chief Digital Officer) roles – but more importantly,

How technology providers must change if they want to continue (or start,) working at the leadership level.  Here are a few comments from the report:

CIOs are in trouble in my opinion.  What I mean is, while this title has held budget control for a long time, and continues to do so, the CIO’s job is not a secure one.  What must CIOs do to remain a key person in the C-suite, worthy of big salaries going forward? And how will these changes affect technology providers?

The CIO role has traditionally been one of custodial responsibility over IT systems.  They are the owner of the data center, responsible for keeping the lights on.  But 2014 has become the year of cloud computing adoption, along with many changes to the traditional computing model. Corporate computing infrastructure is in place for the most part, legacy applications are up and running, and new functionality is being accessed through cloud services. Meanwhile, many companies are looking to third party service providers for system / network management and maintenance.”

So What Should the CIO Be Doing?

My report goes on to talk about CIO relevance – the importance of integrating new technology advancements with company strategy.  Board members are calling on the CIO – or what is being treated more like a CTO role, to help.  While Wal*Mart and other big box retailers struggle with their store model, Amazon is growing.  In fact, they just raised their PRIME membership by about 20% – will their customers complain and run?  Probably not.  Can your average customer raise their prices by 20% like that?  Probably not.  Why can Amazon do this, while others can’t?  Their model is completely different. They have designed a company using technology that completely changes the retail model.  I pay Amazon – with their new pricing model, $99/year before I go shopping!  But somehow it seems worth it.

The Point of the Report

The report has two purposes…first, it will help your team better understand what IT leadership should be thinking about right now.  It will also help you measure your company’s performance to see where you might want to change your approach…I guess this is two things right here, but they both have to do with your approach.

Second, I’ve written this report in a way that is presentable to a customer.  In other words, you can use this report as a news bulletin to help your clients see where they need to be changing their own role. Hopefully this provides some value to you as a technology provider.  I recently worked with a large reseller up in the Chicago area, building a presentation using this as the basis…we took it to market with 20 CIOs as a marketing piece and landed 20 strategy meetings in a one hour lunch & Learn meeting.

Here’s the report – it’s free just for visiting my blog: Click to Request it Here!

© 2014, David Stelzl



Remember my posts on solution selling and the Harvard Business Review article?  They’ve been making their way through the Internet as people search out HBR and land on my page. Well, here it is again.  This morning’s Wall Street Journal CIO Report  features the article – “CIOs Need to Take on Customer-Facing Projects to be Successful” (You probably need the paid subscription to read this). In this article, reporter Rachael King describes what makes a CIO successful – taking on projects that impact the business’s bottom line by focusing on their end-customer.  A slightly different angle, but with tremendous application.

Pressure to Perform

In a recent interview with a Fortune 2000 CIO, I clearly heard him say, “I am under tremendous pressure to cut costs, find strategic solutions, and keep our company out in front with technology.”  Calling on the CIO only makes sense when you are prepared to deliver something that will help them succeed.  In the Article, King cites three great examples; “Dawn Lepore, former CIO of Charles Schwab, Robert Carter, CIO at FedEx and Max Hopper, former senior vice president of information technology at American Airlines.”  All three took on projects that drastically increased efficiencies such as Carter and his re-engineering of the Fedex package tracking system, centralized access to all travel information as in the Sabre system used by American Airline (note: We are ready for another overhaul here),  and direct control for end-customers over their trading activities.  What we are seeing here is a direct connection to what I have termed in my book, From Vendor to Adviser, The Four Things Buyers Buy.  These are simply, Operational Efficiency, Competitive Advantage, Risk Mitigation, and ROI.  These are the things that CIOs must target, if they aim to remain employed.

As a sales person or marketing professional, your target market is quickly changing from CIOs and IT, to CIOs and asset owners (A term I coined in my book, The House & the Cloud).  Asset owners are the people with profit-generating responsibilities, that are looking to the CIO to provide greater automation, mobility, security, and reliability of applications and data.  They need faster real-time reporting for  decision making and the ability to analyze trends by combining data from different systems. The strategic CIO must provide his customers (asset owners) with the tools they need to  focus their efforts based on data analysis, enhance customer service, and by measuring the affects of their daily decisions.

Sales Approach

You, the seller, have an opportunity.  In another recent interview, I was told by a CIO that he and his colleagues are finding it difficult to stay on top of technology trends.  He also said, it is hard to find technology providers that really know what they’re talking about!  Two questions stand out:

  • Is your firm able to deliver against the demands of the CIO?
  • Can you find a way to demonstrate value in the midst of a crowded market of unreliable solution providers?

Some things to help you get there:

  • Constantly ask your executive-level contacts what they are reading.
  • Spend time coming up with great questions for executives.  You should keep a list handy – and add to it.
  • Study the needs of these executives – pressures change with the times, so don’t assume you already know.
  • Look for ways to help your CIO contacts be successful.  Have you ever thought about interviewing some of the customer service people in one of your accounts to see what their customers are saying?

© 2012, David Stelzl