Executive Briefings

The U.S. Has a Shortage of CIOs. No Kidding

America has a CIO shortage though it may be hard to spot sometimes. Companies always have people holding that title; they're often just not the right people. The field's top professional group, the Society for Information Management, has just published a report ("Grooming the 2010 CIO") concluding that U.S. companies have far fewer good CIOs than they need, maybe less than half as many. The reason is that in a world where IT is central to strategy, today's CIO needs substantial business acumen, relationship abilities, and leadership skills--but most don't have those traits because most companies are lousy at developing future CIOs.
The more worrisome problem is what's happening with the kids. Moving herdlike, as usual, they've decided that IT is excruciatingly uncool. Of course it was the coolest thing on the planet just seven years ago, when interest in computer science as an undergraduate major hit a 20-year high. But then a lot of things happened. The dot-com boom went bust at just the time companies stopped hiring staff to fix Y2K problems. More important, the pop culture image of infotech workers flipped from dot-com billionaires in Gulfstreams to Dilbertesque drones writing code in cubicles and Third World masses working for pennies an hour.
The number of undergraduates in computer science and related majors plunged. Though nationwide data aren't available, "some schools saw enrollment drop to 25 percent of what it had been," says Kate Kaiser, an associate professor of infotech at Marquette University in Milwaukee. "The press over-inflated outsourcing. The impact was not nearly as great as parents and guidance counselors suggested."
Source: Fortune, http://money.cnn.com

America has a CIO shortage though it may be hard to spot sometimes. Companies always have people holding that title; they're often just not the right people. The field's top professional group, the Society for Information Management, has just published a report ("Grooming the 2010 CIO") concluding that U.S. companies have far fewer good CIOs than they need, maybe less than half as many. The reason is that in a world where IT is central to strategy, today's CIO needs substantial business acumen, relationship abilities, and leadership skills--but most don't have those traits because most companies are lousy at developing future CIOs.
The more worrisome problem is what's happening with the kids. Moving herdlike, as usual, they've decided that IT is excruciatingly uncool. Of course it was the coolest thing on the planet just seven years ago, when interest in computer science as an undergraduate major hit a 20-year high. But then a lot of things happened. The dot-com boom went bust at just the time companies stopped hiring staff to fix Y2K problems. More important, the pop culture image of infotech workers flipped from dot-com billionaires in Gulfstreams to Dilbertesque drones writing code in cubicles and Third World masses working for pennies an hour.
The number of undergraduates in computer science and related majors plunged. Though nationwide data aren't available, "some schools saw enrollment drop to 25 percent of what it had been," says Kate Kaiser, an associate professor of infotech at Marquette University in Milwaukee. "The press over-inflated outsourcing. The impact was not nearly as great as parents and guidance counselors suggested."
Source: Fortune, http://money.cnn.com