by Thomas Wailgum

What a CIO Says, and What He’s Really Thinking

Jun 05, 20093 mins
Enterprise Applications

The difference between the two is usually quite significant.

CIOs are famous for their generic, canned and oftentimes boring remarks on anything from ERP and cloud computing, to vendor relations and social media technologies.

By nature, most CIOs are not publicly willing to stir the pot, even when it would be interesting and refreshing to know what they are thinking on any given topic and what’s going on inside their IT organizations. (Note: If you ever get a few cocktails in a CIO at a conference or dinner party—without the PR assistant in tow—then you can actually hear what they really think.)

Here’s a sampling of what I think CIOs are genuinely thinking when they are pressed into imparting their views to the masses:

When a CIO says, “We think iPhones for our workforce—even though they are more expensive than the smartphone we have standardized on—might be something for us in the future,” he’s really thinking, “We’ll roll out iPhones when monkeys fly out of my butt.”

When a CIO says, “The CEO and I have a great relationship. I can go into his office any time and talk about what’s going on in IT and how we can better meet the needs of the business,” he’s really thinking, “We found Terabytes of porn on his PC, and as long as he’s in charge, I’ve got a job.”

When a CIO says, “I’m currently talking with our executive board, legal team and CMO about the trade-offs of letting employees use social media at work,” he really means, “My 13-year-old daughter is talking me through what Facebook is.”

When a CIO says, “Despite the recession, innovation is still a key function in our IT department,” he’s really thinking, “My budget just got cut by 30 percent, I had to lay off 60 people, we canceled 10 core IT projects—innovation?! How ’bout just keeping the lights on?!”

When a CIO says, “With our core enterprise vendors, we feel like we have a true partnership, with lots of good communication,” he’s really thinking, “We despise them and beat them up on pricing every chance we get.”

When a CIO says, “I’m not sure how our customer database could have been compromised. We had all the relevant security controls in place,” he’s really thinking, “I’m shocked we’ve been able to remain ‘breach free’ this long.”

When a CIO says, “E-mail that to me. I’ll take a look and get back to you ASAP,” he’s really thinking, “Send it to my e-mail address, my secretary will print it out for me, highlight the important parts in neon yellow marker, then I’ll dictate my response back to her, she’ll type it into my e-mail account and send it to you next week.”

“We’re very interested in how open-source technologies can help us reduce our overall vendor spend,” he’s really thinking, “Are you out of your freakin’ mind? Open source?! You’ve got to be kidding, right? Never!”

When a CIO says, “We’re always working on the challenges of business-IT alignment,” he’s really thinking, “Everyone hates me and my staff.”

Do you Tweet? Follow me on Twitter @twailgum. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline.