A CIO’s Perspective

Rachel West By Rachel West June 21, 2012

Is the CIO career over? According to a recent exclusive piece of research by, one third of all IT leaders believe the cloud will kill off the CIO by 2020.

It is a startling conclusion, but the average CIO does not stay on the job very long anyway. A 2009 Gartner survey of 1,527 CIOs showed that their average tenure is less than five years.  So how does today’s CIO ensure that he or she is not one of the casualties?

On-demand consumerisation is changing the enterprise IT landscape, and making the CIO’s job more challenging than ever, but it’s going to be an evolution rather than a revolution. In most cases, for the foreseeable future, CIOs will still be in charge of the technology decisions for the business.  However, it’s worthwhile to take notes from a CIO’s perspective as he talks about Cloud, Big Data and what makes his career a highly successful one.

In a recent quarterly business review meeting, Rich Pedersen, CIO from National Life Group, shared with a roomful of EMC sales executives the evolution of his role since he started the IT transformation at NLG in 2008.  He drew the operational pyramid, below, which illustrates different areas that he focused on, from stabilizing the organization’s application management and IT Operations to becoming a key strategic partner of the business. According to Rich, “Many CIOs do not realize the importance of getting their house in order before embarking on the strategic stuff; it’s never going to work well if a mission critical business application failed under their watch.” Rich pointed out, “As a CIO, you need to earn the trust of the business, or you won’t get invited to the big table.”

Operational Pyramid

"Operational Pyramid" as drawn by Rich Pedersen, CIO, National Life Group

I found Rich’s insights fresh, relevant and timely as we are promoting our Cloud capabilities through senior IT leaders just like him.  For all the challenges they need to overcome these days, there are in fact exciting opportunities for us to think about the ways our innovations can help them succeed.

“Cloud strategy is a solution to business,” Rich said, “Don’t just sell technology; sell concepts and ideas to helping them identify new revenues and customers”.

What a terrific piece of advice! Even though we’ve made such great strides with our technology and high quality solutions, we ought not to forget about the problems we are trying to solve for our clients.  As the IT industry dynamics continue to change, we need to understand what headwinds CIOs are facing each day.  We must help them manage their IT more effectively, make informed decisions about Cloud, and identify how they can make a big impact on their business. If we help them successfully move the IT organization up on the maturity level, and have a fulfilling career as the trusted partner of their business, we will also be sharing in their successes.

Rachel West

About Rachel West

As a Platinum Player Award winner and industry solution leader at EMC Consulting, Global Services, Rachel West specializes in technology strategy and implementation, product and service innovation and information management for financial services clients.
With more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry as an analyst, advisor and strategist, Ms. West offers deep knowledge and insights into the value of an organization’s information assets, and works closely with many leading global financial institutions to leverage their technology investment to better manage information, and empower them to deliver unique products and services that drive business profitability and growth.
Before joining EMC, Ms. West worked at Putnam Investments, spearheading the process reengineering and user workflow design in conjunction with the transformation of enterprise information architecture that was one of the first in the financial industry.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts’ MBA program, Ms. West also has a degree in economics and finance from the top ranked International Business School at University of Nanjing, China.

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2 thoughts on “A CIO’s Perspective

  1. Pingback: Cloud Transformations, The Potential of Big Data, Customer Service and Operational Efficiency - InFocus