With very little prodding, most CIOs can unleash one horror story after the next about technology projects, software upgrades or systems integration that tanked. That failed miserably. That crashed and burned.
I’m not talking about litigious, rabid rants with, say, Waste Management’s CIO about its jettisoned SAP ERP implementation. (More on that type of carnage here.)
No, this is more like the melancholy tales of a jilted lover—akin to the “Airing of Grievances” ritual as promulgated on Seinfeld by those who celebrate Festivus. (You’ll recall that during the meal portion of Festivus, each one of the attendees is obligated to tell everyone else at the table all the ways in which they have disappointed him or her during the past year.)
Many CIOs have been burned. Many are frustrated with a lack of understanding or appreciation they receive from their vendors. And their needs have not been met. They’re mad as heck and they ain’t gonna take it no more!
And yet they tend to clam up just when it’s time to say “Oracle” or “IBM” or “Microsoft” or “SAP” or “Accenture.”
These CIOs are reluctant to “name names,” which never fails to surprise me. What? Why can’t you tell me the vendor’s name?
Why the secrecy? Is your longtime Oracle sales rep really going to give you that great a deal because you and he are “good pals” and have golfed together? Doubtful. Is Salesforce.com going to cut you off if you grumble about downtime? Will IBM Global Services or Accenture not do business with you in the future because you called them out one time?
Perhaps it seems obvious, but do CIOs need to be reminded that in their relationships with software and hardware vendors, and systems integrators, they are the customer (a.k.a. “buyer”) and the vendor or consultant is the seller.
CIOs should have all the power because they do. And vendors should literally quake at the mere mention of a CIO’s negative comment on a website or in a magazine. (Well, OK, I know that’s pushing it.) But again, CIOs should have all the power. They just need to flex it once in a while.
But are so many CIOs that spineless? Are they too beholden to their PR chiefs seated next to them during interviews? Are they too politically correct?
But, Tom, you don’t understand. It’s complicated.
Is it, really? It seems that CIOs have become more adept at offering canned and uninformative quotations in support of a vendor’s latest and greatest technology than serving up honest assessments of a vendor’s product or a consultant’s service. (Well, in public and with attribution, anyway.)
Never before have CIOs had more choice in purchasing software and hardware products—cloud computing, for instance, has created an abundance of business computing options. And yet to hear some CIOs tell it, they’re more “locked in” to their vendors than ever before.
Something does not compute, IT leaders.
CIOs would do well to remember what follows the “Airing of Grievances” during Festivus. It’s called the “Feats of Strength.” It’s time to be strong, CIOs.
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