7 signs that you’ve arrived as a CIO

Ranjit Satyanath, Retail CIO, Infiniti Retail Ltd (Croma), gives us a satirical lowdown on the benchmarks of a successful CIO.

“CIOs are powerful. They have a complete view of what happens across the organisation. These days, nothing important in companies moves without consulting the CIO or the tech team. Data, supposedly the new oil, flows through their pipes. They can veto virtually anything citing ‘Data Security’. However, not all CIOs are made equal. In the Hindi film fraternity, the Khans, Kapoors, and the Bachchans make up one side while the Deshmukhs, Shergils, and Sinhas don’t quite balance out the scale on the other. Even in the cricket team, there is a gradation. The senior bunch that gets vulgar sums of money, their place in the team is a foregone conclusion. These chaps seem to attract the best endorsement deals and arm candy. Then there are those fellows who seem to get replaced every season even if they didn’t do too badly in the last. Similarly, within the CIO fraternity, there exists a band of men and women who have scaled the pinnacle of success, power, and adulation. They are sought after for their views and opinions on literally anything that can be connected to IT. Vendors give in to their every whim. They are wined and dined for the enormous influence they wield. Then there are those who possibly bear the ‘CIO’ tag but know that they have not really made the cut. Like in cricket, there is no real benchmark to establish your ‘grade’, but maybe these could help.”

1. You are not scared of your CFO
“For some reason, the CFO and CIO always seem to work at cross-purposes. The former challenged everything that the latter proposed. Things got worse when organisations started making the CIO report to their nemesis. Will Spiderman ever answer to the Green Goblin? Or Holmes to Moriarty? However, if the CFO and you are peers on the strategy table and have a healthy respect for each other, it means you have entered the big league.”

2. You don’t attend events with themes like ‘Why the CIO is still important’
“A lot of organisers have made tons of money pandering to the CIO psychosis of being made redundant. I am not sure how this started. I mean, do newspaper editors go to conferences that assure them that people will continue to read the printed news with their morning cuppa instead of a digital version in the loo? I am not sure. Then why does the CIO feel so insecure? If you continue to be drawn into such debates, you may still have some way to go.”

3. The entire CIO fraternity remembers your birthday
“If there’s one thing that proclaims your stature, it is the reaction you get from your peers. In these times of WhatsApp, you can gauge your estimation by your peers by interpreting group dynamics. Are you the guy that gets wished by the fraternity at the stroke of midnight? Do you get at least 45 congratulatory messages when you announce your son’s achievement in the board exams? No? Exactly!!”

4. You are advisor/board member/mentor to other organisations
“So you have 20 plus years of experience. You have worked across multiple domains. You have more awards than shelf space, but…. The icing on the cake, the rounding of the career will finally happen when you can casually let slip at the next networking dinner that you are now advisor to that hot new startup. Word of caution—remember to do it before they’ve started on their third drink. Nothing registers after that.”

5. Your CMO does not ignore you—yet
“All these years the CMO needed your friendship. In exchange, you gave him shiny tools like Macs for his team, CRM enhancements, integration with email and SMS gateways and yet another report to decipher customer behaviour. Cloud and SAS seem to have driven a wedge in this symbiotic relationship. Like Loki, the CMO is gleefully deploying new tools without so much as a by your leave. Vendors come up to you and innocently enquire who your CMO is and you’re able to guess at least one of his appointments for next week.”

6. You are seen with CEOs and other C-level executives
“One of the indicators that you are a business leader is that you flock with others of your ilk. Consequentially you are regularly spotted in the company of other captains of the industry. You are frequently called on to deliver keynotes at large industry events. Even the panels that you deign to participate in are moderated by the CEO of a large company along with senior reporters and top-notch consultants. Here’s hoping to see you at the next ‘40 under 40’.”

7. You have at least 500 followers on your Twitter account
“You are on Twitter, aren’t you? And you tweet? Well, that’s a start. But if you don’t have any followers other than your aunt and some Chinese nationals of questionable character/gender, then you have some catching up to do. Real CIOs tweet regularly about macroeconomic issues and engage with the Twitterati on a wide array of topics like ‘The impact of Brexit on Digital transformation in the Enterprise’.

“Well you get the general drift, don’t you? If you are able put a hand to heart and put a tick against five, you are on the right path. Three? You have some way to go. Less? Never mind.”

(Note: This piece is written with tongue firmly in cheek. Any similarity to persons living, dead or zombie is the result of an amazing coincidence and/or fertile imagination.) 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz


  • Posted: September 13, 2016 07:20

    mani kantsinghr

    very nice insights sir ! especially last line in 4th point was dashing. :)

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