For CIOs, the times they are a changin’

In case you haven’t noticed, the skills needed by today’s chief information officers have evolved. CIOs used to have to be tech savvy enough to suss out the niceties of upgrades and migrations and direct them. Now they need to know tech but also be practitioners of the “softer arts” of cooperation, persuasion and communication that go far beyond the IT department and even their end users.

John Halamka, CIO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, stressed this in a blog post Wednesday that reaffirmed what other CIOs, including Joanne Kossuth, CIO of Olin College have pointed out, especially since the sometimes silly CMO vs. CIO debate erupted: CIOs have more stakeholders now  — including their CEO bosses and boards, and also the broader community beyond.

Halamka, for example, said one of his newer duties was to be master of ceremonies for the state’s health information exchange public demonstration. As such, he had to ensure that “all involved institutions were showcased to highlight their strengths.”

That’s a far cry from the sorts of things CIOs used to talk to be about back when they were consumed by tasks like moving from the mainframe model to client-server deployment and from there to the whole BYO movement we see now.

In a line that especially resonated with me (a former Lotus reporter), Halamka wrote:

“Gone are the early wins of the ‘bold moves’ like replacing Lotus Notes with [Microsoft] Exchange, Novell with NT, Sybase with Microsoft SQL, and client/server with web applications.”

No kidding.