In my recent conversations with CIOs, I’ve noticed there are two topics that really get your blood boiling and on which there’s a certain degree of unanimity: net neutrality and global warming. Whenever either issue comes up, you’re not shy about expressing your personal opinion. But these opinions, no matter how vigorously expressed, remain just that: personal. What’s rarely addressed is the professional responsibility CIOs have for influencing the course of these discussions, for determining the outcome of these debates. I wonder what would happen if the CIO community came together and spoke with one voice?
Let’s start with net neutrality. The vendor community and the politicians have had plenty to say about it, both for and against. And the subject recently bubbled up again when AT&T, as a condition for gaining Federal Communications Commission approval for the BellSouth merger, agreed not to change the way it provided and charged for Internet access for two years. But wouldn’t this whole debate over who owns the net and whether the character and quality of Internet service should be determined by the size or wealth of an organization go away if the CIO community came together to insist on neutrality, to dictate its own terms? I think it would.
The next topic really gets people fired up: global warming. There’s been a ton of back-and-forth about whether global warming is a real problem, but increasingly the evidence seems to indicate that it is. (When it’s 70 degrees in Philadelphia on Jan. 6, you have to admit that something strange is going on.) And don’t CIOs, who oversee enormous assets that consume massive amounts of energy and generate tremendous amounts of carbon emissions, bear some responsibility for finding more efficient ways to serve their businesses’ technology needs without further damaging the environment? I believe CIOs need to take a leadership role in this effort and, in doing so, place their enterprises on the side of the angels.
It’s time for the CIO community to take a collective stand on issues that will not only make a difference to their own companies but also affect the global landscape in a positive way. This is not grandiose; it’s just good business. And I don’t think it’s pie in the sky. I would enjoy hearing your take on this.