From Steve Jobs's Leadership Style to IT's Evolution in the Workplace: An Interview with Eric Bloom—Part 2

[interview]

JV:What are some of the things you found that IT staff wants to know but is a little bit too scared to ask?

EB: I'll get a question like “My company is moving more towards cloud computing. What does that mean for my career? Will I lose my job?”

JV: Very specific.

EB: People will say "I've been a COBOL programmer for twenty-five years. Should I learn Java?" Another kind of question that I got was “I have fifteen-years experience as a project manager; is it worthwhile for me to sit in and become a PMP.?

For IT managers, I get questions like “IT is moving from a centralized to a decentralized business model or organizational model; what will that mean to me now that I'm reporting to the business person instead of internally through the CIO's organization?” These are very career-critical questions.

JV: To me, the common theme around these questions seems about how to keep one’s job when change is happening. "What can I do to keep my job?"

EB: It's the combination of change or “What should I do during this change?” or “What should I do to grow professionally?”

JV: The growth, yeah.

EB: Through my book, what I've done is basically categorized what those types of questions are. I take the columns that were most representative of the type of issues and questions that IT professionals were having.

The real question that they're asking us if they want to stay in IT is “Do I want to go on to IT management or do I want to stay a technical professional?” So, first of all I'll display the column. Then, I'll say why that question is important to the people who were asking it. Next, I’ll explain why it's important for the CIO to understand that these questions are being asked.

JV: What have you seen the role of the CIO involving into? It seems to me like it's going to be definitely more hand-in-hand working with business, but what do you see?

EB: I think you said it. I think that they (CIOs) really need to be executives and start with a business function, and then everything has to be driven toward it. I think the CIO is certainly a position for the future, but there is also a new job title that's beginning to emerge, which is the chief digital officer who is basically pulling everything, from the website to social media to videos, to basically anything you would think of as digital media; this is, to a large extent, an awful lot of the dynamic business function of the company.

In some cases, CIOs are being asked to rename their titles or they're being actually told to rename their title into this, because it's incorporating more of marketing and all this other stuff to it. In other companies, depending on the specific CIO and the nature of the company and so on, there have been cases where all of that digital stuff has been stripped out from the CIO's responsibility. What the CIO has been left with is basically to be in charge of the infrastructure and internal-accounting-type systems; sort of that flexy stuff related to the web and social media that is being handled in some cases through marketing.

JV: There might be a marketing person in-charge who is the CIO-level of a marketing manager running a specific department.

EB: Yes, or one might report to the other. The chief digital officer or the equivalent of the chief digital officer responsibility works into the CIO or, in some cases, the CIO is reporting to a chief digital officer. It depends on the company dynamics, the individuals in the role; a million different things.

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Jonathan Vanian's picture Jonathan Vanian

Jonathan Vanian is an online editor who edits, writes, interviews, and helps turn the many cranks at StickyMinds, TechWell, AgileConnection, and CMCrossroads. He has worked for newspapers, websites, and a magazine, and is not as scared of the demise of the written word as others may appear to be. Software and high technology never cease to amaze him.

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