Missing links: CIOs tee off

We open up our reporters' notebooks to share some amusing highlights from this week's CIO Decisions conference at Pebble Beach.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – When Pebble Beach is the venue for a CIO conference, you gotta believe that more than IT-business

aligment is on the agenda. SearchCIO.com kept track of the action from the podium to the putting green. Here are some tidbits that didn't make the official conference proceedings.

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Talk about mulligans. Charles Kramer, CTO at Social & Scientific Systems in Silver Spring, Maryland, set a new record at Pebble Beach. Most balls lost: 19. At least, no one else would admit to losing more. "I haven't been on a driving range in a year," Kramer says. "I took a lesson the first day. It helped. I might have lost 30 balls without it."

Heads up! An attendee threw a curveball to panelist Brad Bourland during a discussion of wireless security. The audience member asked the director of procurement technology for the Houston Astros baseball team if ace pitcher Roger "The Rocket" Clemens will be traded to the New York Yankees this season. Bourland laughed, noted the unlikelihood given the Astros recent rise in the wildcard standings but then cautioned: "They don't call me on that [type of stuff] very often."

Every CIO should be adept at multitasking, says Rob Manson, director of IT at MIS -- especially if said CIO is away from the kids at a grownup playground like Monterey Bay for a few days. "Pebble Beach is certainly part of the draw," Manson says, his face showing more of a tan than many IT execs, trapped in the data center, would possess. "If this conference were in downtown New York City, would I be as interested in going? Probably not." Manson arranged for a vacation day and arrived a day early for the conference. He packed light: a laptop, Scuba gear and golf clubs. "Last year, I did a one-tank dive in the morning and played Pebble Beach in the afternoon," he says. "I was garbage by the end of the day. This time I smartened up. I did two tanks one day and played golf a different day. I'm renting a convertible. I hope the sun comes out so I can do the 17 Mile Drive with the top down. I'm a father of three. I don't get out much. I miss my kids dearly but it's nice to wing it like a teenager again."

Everyone likes good news. Jon Klassen, Inter-Tel's CIO, was giving a presentation when his company's stock symbol flashed onto the screen: INTL. "No, no, it's not Intel," he says. "You wouldn't believe how often Intel has good news and our stock goes up."

All CIOs are above average. Thornton May, dean of the IT Leadership Academy, asked tech execs to rate the leadership of some public figures, on a scale from best of the best to being embarrassed to be in the same species with them. Twenty-eight percent ranked Oracle's Larry Ellison above average, while 31% found him an embarrassment. "Who's paying for dinner tonight?" laughed May, reminding the crowd that Oracle was sponsoring the meal. "Some of you aren't going to get any dessert." Nicholas Carr, who wrote the controversial article "IT Doesn't Matter" for the Harvard Business Review, fared even worse. Almost no one gave him high marks and half rated him an embarrassment.Then May asked the CIOs to rank themselves. Fifty-four percent claimed they were above average. "It's just like Lake Woebegone," May observed.

Overheard from one CIO on opening day between afternoon golf and evening cocktails (and between bites of seafood risotto): "Sessions? There are sessions here?"

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