Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wow! An exclusive hour with three CIOs

I went to the "CIO Meet" at Haas tonight. I got the privilege to ask them some questions.

The three CIOs were -

  • Marty Chuck, CIO, ElectronicArts
  • Greg Higham, VP, Information Systems &Technology, Witness Systems
  • Chris Jones, CTO, Shaklee Corporation

What an opportunity! Along with the free EA game and T-shirts I got answers to some of my questions I had about the role of a CIO.

Some interesting ideas they talked about were -

  • IT needs a structured approach to identifying and solving business problems. Applying this structure to the "startup-like (a polite way of saying chaotic)" culture could be really challenging. How do you assimilate processes but still not fight with the culture of the company that might oppose it?
  • Some of the new enterprise applications are looked upon as "shiny new objects" which might not bring a lot of business value.
  • The role of a CIO is very flexible and thus there are opportunities to define it your way and set your own priorities.
  • The IT infrastructure decisions are moving from "Build or Buy" to "Buy or rent" to "Rent or BPO". Eventually, they see moving a lot of these support processes outside the company to a Rent or BPO kind of model.
  • Being a CTO/CIO in a technology company has its pluses and minuses. When you are surrounded by tech-savvy executives it is not very hard to educate them on the "new shining objects". But, as one of the CIOs gave an example - some of the colleagues would read some articles (on their United flight) and then with half-baked knowledge try to apply that to their context.
  • One CIO used ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) to explain the nature of business users and their priorities. Their attention span is just too short. Either you give quick results or their attention would go away to something else.
  • The companies resist buying critical enterprise software from the start-ups.

Thanks Marty, Greg and Chris to be there.

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