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Bad IT Means a Bad CEO

My colleague Bob Evans, SVP and Managing Director of InformationWeek’s Global CIO, posted an insightful blog after seeing CEO of HP Mark Hurd talk about the relationship between CEO and IT. 

In marketing circles, we discuss this all the time – how to be relevant to your audience and constituents.  We thoughtful it was an invaluable reminder for all of us marketers.  By the way, Bob can be reached at [email protected] if you have more questions about this topic or what is on the minds of CIOs.

Hurd offers a startling observation about how the roots of bad IT almost always reside in the corner office, and he explains how HP attempts to address the needs of both the CEO and the CIO.

By Bob Evans
InformationWeek
October 29, 2009 08:00 AM

Speaking to an audience of C-level execs, HP (NYSE: HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd said that when he hears top executives tell him that their IT is bad, his first reaction is that the real problem is probably a bad CEO.
In an interview/presentation at last week’s Gartner Symposium, Hurd was answering a broad question about the interplay between IT and business processes, and whether HP should be aiming its messages at CEOs focused on business outcomes or IT leaders focused (according to the question) on technology.

Hurd struggled initially with his reply—he clearly wanted the audience to know he and HP are big-picture folks who think about things that their customers’ CEOs think about, but he also didn’t want his CIO audience to think his standard practice is to go over their heads, and it took him a bit to tie all those threads together, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But I want to focus on a startling correlation he made about the role that customer-side CEOs play in situations where a company’s IT is bloated, backward, expensive, and ineffective:

“Because I’ll tell you, I don’t know how many CEOs are in the audience here, but when you show me bad IT—and I meet a lot of CEOs, and do a lot of talks in front of CEOs—and I get a lot of CIOs who tell me how bad their IT is. My first reaction—to be very frank—is it’s probably a bad CEO, as opposed to bad IT.”

That is a profound insight—I’ve never heard someone express that type of correlation so directly before: in 99% of the cases where bad IT’s an issue, the fall-guy is the CIO, right? IT is the CIO’s responsibility, so IT’s failure is the CIO’s failure, and the CIO’s failure means the CIO’s ouster, and the CEO is seen as a sharpy for rooting out the ineffective IT guy. Read full article….