The CIO’s responsibilities fall within
and outside of the technology realm. As part of the job, the CIO needs to influence and even establish functions outside of technology to enable success. However, in some cases the changes outside of technology or IT simply can’t be made, resulting in less than expected results from IT solutions or in some cases absolute failure. What can be done by CIOs when it becomes clear that company leadership simply will not or cannot put in place functions or capabilities outside of IT that are required to fully realize the benefits of IT investments?
As an example, a magazine publishing company, in business for over 25 years decided to build an online job board. The company made money for years by selling job ads to be inserted in print magazines. Of course, over the past several years, print subscriptions declined and advertisers were more likely to post job ads online. Company leadership decided that an online job board should be built to leverage the company’s brand and give current and future customers (company’s looking to advertise job openings) an online channel. However, the company did not have people skilled in defining product capabilities, pricing, operational processes and marketing the product (Product Management) nor did it have experience in analyzing the operational data and preparing talking points to support marketing and sales. Lastly, sales representatives lacked the experience and tools necessary to engage and sell online job posting and related ads (CPM) and services.
Company leadership believed that if IT built the job board, then revenues and income would increase to the level of other commercial job boards in their particular space. Kind of like “If you build it, they will come”. After launching the new online job board and as part of monthly releases thereafter, many new features and SEO changes were made. After several months, company leadership funded SEM and organic search, clicks and applies per job showed very competitive results. These results were provided periodically for use by marketing to increase sales to new and existing clients. However, the marketing and sales teams lacked the ability to make use of the data prepared, to market these results and use them to drive sales.
After several conversations in which the case was made for adding people, replacing people and retraining people to improve the marketing and sales functions, company leadership decided to make minor changes, falling far short of establishing the capabilities required. The CIO eventually resigned, believing the situation could not improve without these key functions performing well. To provide a little more background, the company had multiple product lines and the CIO saw a similar pattern with each. The CIO came to the conclusion that the company’s leadership did not have the experience with technology based products to understand the cross-functional capabilities needed to be successful and that he was not able to influence them to make the changes needed.
So, when does the CIO have a responsibility to resign, rather than continue to take a pay check knowing that the path being taken will not lead to success?
Please share your thoughts.