What Keeps CIOs Up At Night?

We’d like to know what job responsibilities give CIOs insomnia, either by responding to this blog or by contacting us directly to be interviewed. The interviews will take less than an hour and go over this question as well as others including:

  1. What decisions do you regularly make?
  2. What sources of information do you use?
  3. What IT decisions are made by IT versus the business?

We are in the early stages of interviews, but the initial responses to the question of what keeps CIOs up at night were very interesting. Some, as expected, focused on tactical and immediate problems. They included:

  • Security: “I don’t ever want to see [my company’s] name in the paper for a security problem.”
  • Small mistakes: “A tiny piece of code could have brought the organization to its knees.”
  • Turnover: “We have two people maintaining one of our ancient core systems, and both could retire soon.”

But there were unexpected responses in that they focused on the long term. Some of these long-term insomnia inducers were:

  • Investments: “Does the money I’m putting in now make sense for the future?”
  • Staff leadership: “Do I have the right mix of outsourced and internal staff?”
  • Reality: “I’m struggling matching reality with where we’re heading.” 

It appears that so far, what keeps CIOs awake has a common cause — uncertainty. It's not knowing what's coming at them or whether what they're doing now, will pay off in the future. For those long-term concerns, it’s the investments that don’t immediately translate to business benefits. For example, will replacing a homegrown application with a cloud-based one pay off over the long term? For the short term, it’s the unknown immediate threats such as staff’s ability to react quickly enough to the next cyberattack given that they happen regularly and are always changing.

We invite your comments either to this blog or through an interview.

If willing to be interviewed, thank you and please contact Lindsey Coit  (lcoit@forrester.com).

Comments

CIO's Top Ten Turn Around Challenges

Hi, Marc, sure, managing uncertainty is critical as business environment becomes so dynamic and complex, though CIOs' challenges are more specifically located at every level from strategic to tactical; here are some collective thoughts via one of CIO forums: http://futureofcio.blogspot.com/2012/09/cios-top-ten-turn-around-challen...

Change is accelerated, CIOs may no need to be sleepless, in order to have energy to adpate to the rapidly changes every day. thanks.