Top 7.5 Signs that Your CIO IS READY for the New Normal



My colleague, Trisha Winter, in her last blog picked on CIOs who are NOT READY for the New Normal.  That harshes my mellow, so I’m going to talk about Super-CIO capabilities that show readiness for the tranformative world of the IT executive.

If you remember, the New Normal is the reality that technology has become so pervasive that it is becoming a company’s primary way to engage with their customers.  And in order to support this, every company must think of themselves as a technology company first, their main product or service is secondary.

This New Normal is unavoidable so companies need to make sure that they are setting themselves up to succeed.  This means starting with IT and the CIO.  If you are a CEO and your CIO matches these signs, it is probably time for a promotion and raise, not for you but for your CIO.

  1. Your CIO understands your business and collaborates well with line of business (LoB) peers.Technical leadership requires a bit of salesmanship and showmanship, so your CIO should brush up on her/his speaking skills, or go to open-mic night at the local comedy club.  Hey, if Dick Costolo of Twitter can do it, so can every technology leader!  Best of all, your CIO must understand your business from the inside-out.  So, look for that interest and enthusiasm.
  2. Your CIO understands all technologies in use by the company.Your CIO not only understands the latest technologies, but understands the applicability of these technologies to your business and is able to articulate the value to you and the LoBs.  The IT ecosystem and culture means fostering an environment where disruptive things like BYOD, IT in Marketing, etc. all work together.
  3. Your CIO understands what your customers experience when they engage with technologies that they use to do business with you.Tech performance is MOST meaningful in the experience that your customers have when they’re directly doing business with you.  Your technical leaders and staff must be appraised on technology customer-experience and be tightly aligned with customer-facing employees.
  4. Your CIO measures all ‘moving parts’ of your technology investments and understands the value and practicality of all components.As the saying goes “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, an application, no matter how well it is developed, has at least one constraint that limits its performance. This is the basic Theory of Constraints, and great CIOs understand that application performance improvement is a complex, constant activity.
  5. Your CIO measures technology investments and technology performance against P&L.It’s a lofty goal to tranform IT from a cost-center into a profit-center, and ‘New Normal” CIOs will at least understand their value related to the performance of the company and will constantly work towards improving both the bottom and top lines of the company
  6. Your CIO understands big-data.  New Normal CIOs can articulate how big-data Volume, Variety, and Velocity can affect your company, and has added the fourth ‘V’alue benefit to the discussion.  ”Big Data” is an overused term, and some technology companies are trying to equate it to ‘just another buzz word’, BUT, the technology itself can and should be transformational into insight into sales success and customer retention.  Your CIO should be well-versed in discussing how real-time analytics can help your company.  If they have a problem describing the value, have them call me and I’ll teach them a card-trick on how to illustrate the value of big-data.  More on this in a future TechTalk
  7. Your CIO has implemented DevOps ‘best-practices’ and has created new ‘better-practices’ that differentiate your company from your competition.To me the word that best describes good DevOps processes is cadence.   Developing and deploying apps on a cadence fosters communication, collaboration, discipline, agility and leanness to your Development and Operations activities.  My favorite acronym is FUD = Focus, Urgency and Discipline.  Your DevOps teams should look at your competitors and figure out ways to expose their technology weakness and exploit your strengths in the marketplace.

7.5 BONUS! Your CIO has afternoon “thought-experiments” with his cat.


About Paul Czarnik
Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.