Trending IT Problems: What is keeping CIOs up at night?

Every month, I facilitate a roundtable IT Security conversation with some of the brightest CIOs in the tech world. Topics cover the landscape a CIO is involved with on a daily basis such as: Leadership, IT Security, Innovation, and Business Applications among other things. As the moderator of this discussion, I dive deep into the topics to get to the root of the problem to better enable the group to offer suggestions.

What I have been hearing is fascinating as the issues a CIO is facing is largely the same across industries. I want to take a moment and discuss 3 key areas that I am hearing.

  • Driving Revenue
  • Plumbing Support
  • Security


If we take a look at the trends, a CIOs need to add value is increasing sharply. In the past, the IT department was considered a spending black box – a place that didn’t add to the company’s bottom line and was mostly overhead.

Recently, I have seen a sharp turn away from that idea. A CIO in today’s world is driving the company’s innovation and by doing so is driving revenue. While the plumbing support and keeping the lights on are always part of the CIOs responsibilities, they are now involved in adding value to the organization. They are now in charge of software development that automates redundant processes, analyzing data trends to help make business decisions, and partnering with other departments to implement new technologies that directly lead to the sales.

Today’s CIO is the tip of the spear when it comes to business. The innovation is leading to new Exponential Organizations that are more streamline in today’s market place and changing the way companies are organizing the IT Department. I have spoken with many CIOs that have decided to rebrand their department to Technical Services or Business Services to market their IT department internally. Some have instituted titles such as Chief Integration Officer to drive home the integration of macro goals, as well as implemented Solution Managers to act as IT consultants to be more involved.

Plumbing Support

Dealing with day-to-day issues involved with keeping the lights on and your infrastructure running smoothly is at the heart of IT. It takes up a lot of a CIOs time and if they are lucky they will be able to dedicate 15%-20% of their time adding value.

It’s getting better. There are some tricks that CIOs are using to streamline the plumbing support. As I mentioned, many IT departments are reorganizing to be better suited for the today’s demands. One methodology is outsourcing the help desk. Well, that isn’t so much of a new trick, but I bring it up as some CIOs are opting to transfer management of the outsourcing into the hands of the HR department. Some organizations already have a process of vendor management in place and the quality of customer satisfaction is governed by Human Resources.

The aspect of the plumbing is tracking. New help desk ticketing tools exist to provide exceptional tracking capabilities. The not only provides searchable data for the help desk team to become more efficient in troubleshooting, but allows tacking of trends and repeatable offenses by employees. This data on employee errors can enable the CIO to develop custom training to better educate the employees and in turn, reduce the number of tickets. Of course, you will always have your problem children, those who just cannot (or will not) improve, but now we can identify them more easily to dive into the root of the problems.


The security posture of any company is important. The CIO must be able to describe the current security posture in a way that is easy for the board to understand. The terminology used can be too technical for board members or for executives to relay what has been reported to them. Using graphical representation over technical data can help the CIO tell the right story.

Develop a road map to with the executive team to help identify industry specific risks that are most probable and allow the team to develop and path to prevention. The CIO Scoreboard is a great tool to take a snapshot of current state of vulnerability and helps explain the risks to the CEO/COO/CFO.

The largest risk of an attack is your own employees and that is why education is so important. The key to prevention is education and using tools to flag actions is only one step. Some CIOs have incorporated programs that are designed to actively phish employees and they provide feedback on areas that exposed the companies to risk. The CIOs then take the results and develops training programs for further employee education.

These trends are only a few of many that I have seen recently in our discussions. To participate in one of our upcoming discussions, apply to become a MasterMind member at

The CIO Mastermind Discussion gives you, an IT Executive, a safe, constructive environment to ask your peers for feedback about current challenges or issues you are facing in the industry. You and your peers provide novel approaches, vendor suggestions and first-hand experience in response to these challenges.