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Graduation messages for next generation of CIOs – Nadhan’s Top 5

As college students become new graduates, many of them are looking ahead to what they will be in the future. This includes the 20-somethings issuing IPOs for highly successful enterprises, as well as others in key responsible positions with a 3 letter acronym that begins with a C and ends in an O with your letter of choice in the middle. My letter choice is – I for Information. I am thinking of the CIO. I’d like to take a step back and highlight my key messages to the graduates aspiring to be the CIO of the future.


Even though most graduates don't become CIOs on the first workday of their first job, it would serve them well to have a perspective that enables a gradual, structured evolution to that role. Execution will be second nature to them if and when they get there.


With hearty congratulations to these new graduates, here are my top 5 messages to the next generation of CIOs:


Know your business. While this is true for any role in an enterprise, it is applicable all the more to the role of the CIO. What is the enterprise doing for its customers every day? Which industry is it playing in? What key business processes are involved? Where is the enterprise headed over the next 5 years? CIOs must be in tune with the business objectives for the enterprise.


Know your customer. CIOs need to understand the customer base they are serving across multiple generations with differing mind-sets – those that are comfortable with time-tested technologies and others enthusiastic about new emerging technologies – the cool factor. While I agree with HP Fellow Sukhi Gill’s assertions on new challenges Consumerization of IT poses to CIOs, a good CIO would have stayed in tune with the changing customer base and would not be taken by complete surprise.


It is all about information. Don't take the word Information lightly. Everything that IT does is to ensure that the right information is available to the right stakeholders at the right time to drive business decisions. Over the past few decades, technology has just changed the manner in which information is collected, stored, disseminated and presented back to the consumer. The responsibility of the CIO to ensure its seamless delivery across the lifecycle is never going to change even though Christian Verstrate details an intriguing formula that provides more insight into the future role of the CIO for this generation of graduates.


Change is the only constant. Gone are the days when CIOs can define the overall IT strategy, put a transformation program in place and sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. The new generation of CIOs will find themselves in an environment of constant change that permeates across the landscape of the business domain, the enabling technologies, underlying paradigms and work force distribution – a change so dynamic, it has Forbes blogger Keith Engelbert wondering if CIOs will vanish into the Cloud?


Deliver on expectations. Obvious as it might be, the constantly changing customer base and eco-system requires the CIO to continuously monitor and manage the expectations of their customers. CIOs must deliver on this expectation because the consumers have choices that they did not in the past. While I agree with Peter Kretzman's assertion that IT consumerization and the cloud will actually elevate the importanc..., a CIO who does not deliver on the expectations of their customers will definitely not be around.


These messages are likely to have applied to graduates a couple of decades back as well. And they may very well apply in the future. Therein lies the point – with all the talk of the role of the CIO being impacted in the future, the fundamental tenets to be embraced by CIOs for all enterprises have not really changed over the years – as Steve Romero tweets: “I have yet to see a single characterization of the "new role of the CIO" that is not what the role ...


The CIOs who have been embracing these tenets will get it right and survive the new breed of challenges. So will the graduates who take these messages to heart from the get go.


What are your messages to new graduates? What additional tips do you have for them? We have college graduates coming up in our family, and I would be really interested in passing on your advice to them. Please let me know.


To learn more about how HP is helping CIOs manage emerging technologies, visit these resources:

judi.cardinal | ‎05-21-2012 07:06 PM

Thank you again for your insight. It as (as usual) very timely.


Last Saturday I attended my daughter-in-laws graduation for her PhD at Western New England University. It is an amazing accopmplishment and she & my son are headed to Abu Dubai in September to work for a few years.


One of the highlights of the afternoon was the acceptance speech by Neil deGrasseTyson who was awarded an honoary degree. Other than him being a Yankees fanSmiley Mad - it was the best speech I have heard in many, many years. He talked about the difference of 2 candidates for a position who were asked the same question " how tall is the building they are in". The first one had it memorized and threw out the exact number right away. The 2nd candidate asked for a few minutes & went outside and measured the shadow of the building and their shadow and came back in and gave an estimate. Then Mr. Tyson asked "who would you hire"?


His conclusion " Knowing how to think empowers you far beyond those who know only what to think". He was so excited by his conclusion he stopped his speech and tweeted it @neiltyson. That is how I know exactly what he said. It was a speech that will stay with me for a long time & I hope the graduates remember it as well.



Nadhan | ‎06-08-2012 03:49 PM

Thanks for sharing your experience at your daughter-in-law's graduation.  I find Neil deGraseTyson's comments very very appropriate for the next generation of CIOs as well.  It is no longer the status quo for them.  They need to know how to think in the continuously evolving ecosystem where change is the only constant. 

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