Being a chief information officer is a complicated and sometimes thankless job. The head of IT faces several contradictions, like recognizing and adopting the next big technology while maintaining systems that are decades old. All the while managing relationships with other C-suite executives and an IT staff that requires skills that are current with evolving needs.
Martha Heller, the author of a new book The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership, says business executives want their companies to quickly adopt new big data technologies, but CIOs know implementing these projects is complex. Often, she says, adopting the new systems first requires a costly and time-consuming upgrade to legacy systems. That can be an unpopular dose of reality.
Heller, CEO of executive recruiting firm Heller Search Associates, says completed projects can’t be either a “business success” or an “IT failure,” because business and IT both share responsibility for these outcomes. At the same time, she says that CIOs must be open to newer technologies and find ways to integrate these systems owned and used by different lines of business. If a CIO only says “no,” business managers looking for quick results will work around them.
In this interview with Data Informed Staff Writer Ian B. Murphy, Heller discusses more of the paradoxes she has discovered in IT leadership and how to overcome them, why a loss of control over new systems is scary and how a CIO’s job description has changed in the era of big data.
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