Sold on CIO Observer
Fascinating article [“The Hardest Job in IT,” CIO Observer, May 1, 2002]! I have spent my whole career in sales, marketing, product management, service management, marketing and sales management, and exec management. I’ve been the CEO of a client company that needed help getting out of Chapter 11.
At age 63, I know something of the foibles of salespeople. Tricks to get to the CIO abound. Most CIOs are like the Roman general in the battlefield. His men have spears; the salesman is trying to sell him a machine gun?but he doesn’t have time to talk about that now. CIOs are running for their lives?all the time. The average life of a CIO is something like two years. (I’m sure you know better than me.) So, a salesperson must develop methods to get past admins, voice mail and so on. Personally, I make no apologies for trying to get through. In fact, the salespeople in any company have some similar barriers to breach. If a sale isn’t made, it affects everyone down to the janitor.
Second, don’t think that salespeople have a fence around failure to understand the value of their products. Let me guarantee you that a whole big bunch of people on the other side of the table from me have refused to see value when properly presented. A lot of these folks work for CIOs. Legacy systems?how about legacy employees? They’ve been there forever, they’ll outlast the latest incarnation in the form of a CIO, and they ain’t gonna change.
CEO Action Group
The last question you asked of Paul DiModica [author of the book How to Sell Technology] was, “So why would anyone want to be a salesman?” The answer has not changed, in my opinion, for 100 years: independence, unlimited income potential, the chance to win and the chance to perform. People who have the ability to influence other people are invaluable. If you find someone who has that ability, and he has a moral compass (these people certainly do exist), he is worth his weight in gold.
Salespeople who are successful long term add value to their customer’s enterprise.
As a technical sales professional, one of the most challenging aspects is that organizations sometimes have a clear difficulty in communicating their real goals. My company prides itself on training the sales staff to really listen. Unfortunately, sometimes the message we hear is jumbled. There seems to be a real disconnect between the board, CIO, director and frontline technology user. What do you believe sales professionals can do to help CIOs bridge this gap?
Regional Account Manager
Thanks For The Insight
I have recently been appointed CIO for a major financial services corporation. I just wanted to let you know that the information contained in your magazine has been instrumental in helping me evolve into the position. Obviously, there is no handbook on how to run a technology organization, especially when considering the current economic conditions; however, many of the articles that I have read in CIO have provided some very important insight.
I just wanted to say thank you and keep up the good work.
P.S. It might be interesting to publish an article on CIOs new to the position.
Mellon Investor Services
Ridgefield Park, N.J.
Outsource With Caution
I found your June 15 article [“You Can’t Outsource City Hall”] very interesting.
As a local government CIO, I am watching the San Diego County project with great interest. You made many good points, but there are a couple of others that you may want to consider.
In my mind, the primary difference between the public and private sectors that impedes large-scale outsourcing initiatives is that authority and control in the public sector tends to be much more diffuse than on the private side. For example, county governments often include “constitutional officers” who are directly elected and not responsible (or sometimes responsive) to supervisors or administrative management. Local governments make wide use of boards and commissions, which may actually hire department heads who are ostensibly part of the government’s management team. I think the government governance model itself is more of an inhibitor than union opposition.
Outsourcing does not fix bad processes. Many government organizations have ill-defined, traditional processes that will remain even after the staff who know and understand those processes have departed. I don’t think outsourcing can be successful unless an organization’s business processes are well under control. It’s simply asking too much of the private side to learn about and accommodate these processes quickly.
There are some models that have had some success. Indianapolis/Marion County has outsourced nearly all of its IT services for some time. A couple of regional nonprofit service providers have been effective. The San Diego Data Processing Corp. serves many communities in the San Diego area and even extends its business into Mexico. Hennepin County of Minnesota, is another excellent example of a regional operation that works well.
Finally, the issues of scale and scope are paramount. Even a small city like Des Moines has 15 distinct business units, each with varying requirements.
We recently agreed to pilot a seat management contract for Public Technology. During our work on this project, which will be relatively small in scale, the complexity added by government’s use of highly vertical applications for government-specific functions was a major problem in developing a model for this project.
City of Des Moines, Iowa