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How a CIO can save an incompetent CEO

Rob Enderle | April 22, 2013
When a bad CEO goes down, the CIO often goes down with him.

EMC, too, has implemented a massive internal analytics program to build metrics around customers, service and sales to identify problems, build better products and, soon, instrument competitors' customers. This information will be used to make product decisions but also tells the CEO just where to put resources to optimize the company. ( Jim Bampos, the man behind this program, recently left EMC to help other companies do the same thing.)

Finally, the CEO needs to have a clean feed of environmental information. I don't mean whether or not we're cooking the planet with global warming but, rather, the critical information about competitors, regulations and other factors impacting the company from the outside. The best folks doing this job tend to come from the pharmaceutical industry.

With this information, the staff supporting the CEO can assure he's fully informed about the internal resources he has and the external challenges he must overcome. From the CFO he'll have a good idea of their financial resources, while the HR director, sales manager and line organization heads will be better informed than their competitive counterparts-all thanks to analytics properly implemented for each organization.

How to Get Funding for Your Analytics Efforts

Proving the return on an analytics investment is a multi-step process.

  • Find a department that has implemented some form of analytics.
  • Make sure the results are refined.
  • Get the data them in front of the relevant executive.
  • Make sure the CEO knows the data was sourced from your organization's efforts.

If you did it right, the CEO will become an advocate, much like Joe Tucci at EMC. You'll then have the beginning of a plan to assure that any CEO who gets the job will be more informed than his peers. In short, unless the CEO is a complete idiot, he should see the value in both his own prowess and his ability to better run the company to prioritize deeper investments.

I saw this happen at Dell years ago, with far less capable tools than we have today. The end result turns the IT department into a hero organization credited with executive job satisfaction and longevity. There's a good chance that, wherever any of those executives go, they will want you with them. Even if your CEO turns out to be a complete idiot, do this well and you'll have champions who will make sure your career is a long, successful one.

Information is power. Never forget that the "I" in IT and CIO means "information." It's your job, and your key advantage, to be able to provide the information a potentially incompetent CEO needs to be an incredibly competent one.

I've said that big data success is all in the analysis. Get this right and you'll likely never have to worry about CIO turnover again.


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