This Information Week article called “Why CIOs Need the Transformative Power of Twitter” got me thinking about IT organizations and the time they (don’t) spend considering how new technologies can change their organization or industry. Bob Evans uses Twitter as an example of a technology most CIOs wanted to ignore, a technology that several organizations are now effectively using as a game changer. He asserts, “Ignoring it is hardly an option. More than ever before, CIOs are being expected and required to become active agents of change and drivers of revenue within their organizations.”
I totally agree that CIOs will only keep their jobs if they do more than just respond to what their business peers ask them to do. They have to bring thought leadership to their companies. But with everything else taking up time in their day, should they be the ones investigating all these technologies? They can’t; they do not have time to do it effectively. So if they don’t have the time, how do they get this information from their organization? Many IT organizations are too small or too lean to have a CTO, chief architect, or head of R&D who spends much of their time investigating new technologies. So IT organizations need to think creatively about how to use various people throughout their organizations to bring them this knowledge. And the great thing is that many employees, especially the ones who should be retained, would love to have a little side project to help investigate new technologies and the brief the CIO or the other business executives on ideas for how it could change their company. They might even do it in their spare time, for free. I think IT organizations should look into models for integrating this kind of research into their organization. Some coordination and process would be necessary to make it work effectively, but the direct benefits of the knowledge shared as well as the indirect benefits of getting employees more engaged and excited about the business they are in would make it well worth it.