With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get creative about how you can scare the pants off of the people in your IT organization. I’ve been attending a fair amount of CIO events recently, and in the spirit of Halloween I put together a few costumes that I can guarantee will keep your CIO up at night. 

  • A Storm Cloud. While “The Fog” might have scared your CIO in 1980, thirty years later it's the cloud that is scaring him. Despite all of the hype around "as-a-service technologies" over the past two years, Forrester has found 48% of IT decision makers still say they are “not interested” or “have no plans to adopt” software-as-a-service — a number that rises for other cloud-based offerings. Why the lack of interest?  Security, integration, and lack of customization top the list of key SaaS concerns.  Yet, as the cost savings and purchasing flexibility benefits becomes increasingly obvious, IT professionals know they have to get comfortable with their fears to reap the  benefits that cloud-based offerings provide. 
  • Mark Zuckerberg.  You didn’t think the movie “The Social Network” was a horror film? Your CIO did.  The CIOs I have spoken with recently know that social computing is fundamentally changing the way that their workforce does business, but many have not figured out how to harness its power within their business. They have to wrestle with new security, compliance, and integration issues – and get the entire organization (including their CEO) behind the use of the tools that they adopt.   The most forward thinking SVM professionals know that they have a role in researching and identifying social tools — like community platform providers — that are enterprise-ready (Jive, Telligent, and Lithum are examples). Still, far too many companies remain in the dark about why social collaboration is more than just a passing fad. 
  • The Mac Guy.  Remember that too-hip-for-school guy who was always making the poor PC guy look stupid?  Teenagers love him, CIOs hate him. CIOs today spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing Apple products, because they know that their PCs are starting to look outdated to a new generation of information workers. There is something else going on here:  Apple has become a CIO proxy for the much larger trend of “technology populism” – the trend of self-provisioned consumer technology in the business. Recent Forrester data showed that almost 27% of workers now indicate that the technology they use at home is better than the technology they have at work, and this number rises to 34% for Generation Y workers!  Already, we see many enterprises embracing a host of consumer technologies to empower their workforce and gain an edge on competition – something explored in Forrester’s new book “Empowered.”
  • Your Chief Operating Officer.  Now, this would be downright mean. Most IT professionals I speak with know that their IT organization needs to operate more like a business, but are struggling with the transformation. In particular, CIOs are frustrated by the fact that they are under pressure from COOs to cut costs in everything they do, while also providing increasingly high levels of IT-driven innovation .  Though this tension is nothing new to SVM professionals, the best organizations look at “costs” holistically, recognizing that squeezing every last dollar out of a contract must go hand-in-hand with establishing strategic relationships with vendors.  They are also constantly working with their business counterparts to highlight their innovation capabilities and cost constraints.

 Of course, if you want to be a nice person, and actually help your CIO sleep at night, dress as a superhero. Why?  CIOs are starting to realize that, in an age where technology is becoming embedded in business process, they can’t be expected to understand the benefits and risks of every single technology they manage.  They need people like you – highly empowered and resourceful operatives (HEROes) – to play this role.  As one CIO told me recently “when I have a problem, I pick up the phone and call one of my HEROes.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know they do, and that’s just as good in my opinion.” SVM can be a hero by knowing which new technology trends affect their business the most and playing a proactive role in market research, vendor selection, and risk mitigation.

So as you are working on your costume, recognize that it is in part your responsibility – the day after Halloween at least – to be a HERO, understand these threats, and get your organization comfortable with the changing face of technology.