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Microsoft hosts midmarket CIOs – Vote for the biggest CIO challenge

A midmarket CIO’s challenges are many, and I’m always amazed by the stories I hear when I’m out on the road meeting many of you.

This week I touched down in Redmond for Microsoft’s US Midsize Business CIO Summit, an invitation-only event for about 400 midmarket CIOs. It’s a press-free conference, but I was privileged to be a speaker and thus join the technology glitterati on site.

My conversations covered a lot of topics, but what I’ll share with you here is a sampling of the folks I met. If you think your job is tough, consider those of these CIOs – then I’ll ask you to vote or share your story of trying circumstances.

– The CIO for a firm that conducts clinical trials. He has five staff in the U.S. and 25 in Europe. Based on the West Coast, he had just spent over a week on the road, first in London and then in Russia, then came directly to the conference. At home he’s on calls early in the morning and late in the evening, syncing up with staff around the world. Challenges? Language, culture. … He absolutely wasn’t griping about the travel or the hours (he didn’t even look tired!) and I know he’s hardly alone in living such a global lifestyle. But to me that seemed the most challenging part.

– The CIO who was hired to bring a food distributor into the 21st century. The company had all sorts of aging or aged systems – but the hard part was when this maverick CIO announced capabilities he wanted to roll out to the employee base. The CEO told him that sales reps were not going to use computers. Period.

– The CIO who had endured several offshoring contracts (some negotiated by his parent company), all with ill effects. In one case, employees at a provider hacked into his systems; in another, a key offshore contact left for another firm just after completing his Oracle training in the U.S. Meanwhile, he grappled with undeveloped infrastructure – he couldn’t get a switch for a new plant he was building — and bureaucrats who promised fixes and then didn’t deliver.

Do you relate to any of these experiences or have your own story of obstacles to share? Vote below for the one that seems most challenging and feel free to offer advice to the CIOs in question.

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