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CIO management mistakes and the cost of IT failure

There are a lot more than eight ways to torpedo a CIO career, judging from the response to my piece this week, “CIO management mistakes that can harm CIO careers, cause IT failures,” a compilation of eight common CIO missteps. Fred Held, former CIO at Mattel and Bercor and IBM executive briefing consultant, offered two more:

  1. Don’t be clueless how the organization works. Since the systems that are under the CIO process the transactions of the organization, you have the best opportunity to be the focal point on how the organization works. This is a huge asset that most CIO don’t get.
  2. Don’t be reactive, be proactive. Learn influence management techniques to initiate projects that both make the company more competitive and secondly, save money. These can be very short-term, inexpensive projects that give the company even the tiniest of a competitive edge to huge systems that take years. There is nothing that a sales force and top management and the marketing team love to do more than brag about some superb system for the customers.

Enterprise architect and CTO of ObjectWatch, Roger Sessions, weighed in with his top two:

  1. Failure to speak the language of the business. CIOs who talk techno-babble are rapidly ignored by the business.
  2. Failure to understand the need to control complexity. Complexity is the single biggest reason for IT failures. Control it, or it eats you for lunch!

Sessions lit up the blogosphere this week with his post, “Cost of IT Failure,” pegging the total cost of worldwide IT failures at $6.2 trillion.

To get to the cost of IT failure for any one country, Sessions came up with a factor that can then be multiplied by a country’s GDP. He derived the factor .089, by multiplying the amount of money spent on IT hardware, software and services by the fraction of IT projects at risk, by the failure rate of at risk projects, and by indirect costs associated with the failure.

IT failure hurts — countries, careers, CIOs. Avoiding career-damaging mistakes keeps CIOs from getting fired so they’re around long enough to create sustainable business value. Hopefully, our tips will make that true for more of you.

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