From the Jul 26, 1999 Sound Off ColumnLast Friday, everyone who read the New York Times business section discovered how \n\nlittle faith the world has in the ability of a CIO to lead a large corporation.The reaction, in the Times and other major newspapers, to Compaq's appointment \n\nof Michael Capellas as its new CEO, was anything but encouraging. Analysts, the papers \n\nreported, were "skeptical" and "disappointed." They bemoaned Capellas's "lack of star \n\npower," and they speculated that with Compaq's executive turmoil, declining market position, \n\nand Chairman Ben Rosen's reputation for back-seat driving, the board couldn't find anyone \n\nelse for the job. Desperate, reporters suggested, Rosen turned to a CIO. Even Wall Street \n\noffered up a lackluster reception to the news with a one dollar dip in Compaq stock.Are the analysts right? Is a CIO the wrong choice to lead a company? Or can CIOs become \n\nmasterful CEOs?Capellas may well be the perfect pick for the job. With nearly twenty years in IT \n\nmanagement--most recently as Compaq's own CIO--Capellas certainly has a grasp of IT issues \n\nthat escape most CEOs. He may even have the know-how to bring Compaq out of the ailing PC \n\nmarket and into enterprise computing. His predecessor, Eckhard Pfeiffer, had a more \n\ntraditional marketing background, yet was ousted in April for failing to capitalize on the \n\nnew business and distribution models that are all the rage in the Internet Economy. It is \n\narguable that a CIO would not make that mistake.In a market where technology is transforming distribution channels, sales models, and \n\ncustomer service, technological sophistication separates the wheat from the chaff. CEOs who \n\ndon't get IT aren't up to the challenge. How hard is it to see the wisdom of hiring a CEO \n\nwho appreciates the power of information technology, and knows how to use it? Judging from \n\nlast Friday's paper, too hard for the analysts, and too hard for the mainstream press.What do you think? Can CIOs make good CEOs?