What Keeps You Up at Night?

By Larry Bonfante  |  Posted 03-11-2011

Which concerns cause me to lose sleep these days? Certainly, enterprise security is a source of constant concern for every CIO. But there are plenty of other issues that are just as vexing.

Social media has been an area of great focus over the past two years. Many CIOs worry about the impact of having their clients run wild with social media applications. My concern is a different one: I'm more worried about how we can partner with our marketing organization to leverage social media platforms as a strategic tool in engaging our customer community.

Our mutual goal would be to help our organization provide services that delight our customers and get them excited about what we have to offer. I want to be able to get key messages in front of the right people at the right time to drive real value.

I also worry about succession planning. There will be a day when all of us baby boomers have moved on to the next phase of our lives. What are we, as leaders, doing to educate, motivate and create the next generation of CIOs? With so few people in our educational system focused on technology management, and so little focus and money being invested by most organizations in leadership development, how will we bridge the gap to the next generation of IT leaders?

Related to this concern: How can I continue to provide the members of my team meaningful opportunities to grow and contribute? I have always felt that I owe my people more than just a paycheck every two weeks.

I owe them the opportunity to learn new skills, expand their existing capabilities and spread their wings so that their time with me improves their professional talent and value. In what new ways can I provide them the opportunities, visibility, mentoring and learning experiences that will prepare them to be CIOs of the future?

And then, there's the business side. How do I ensure that my partners in the other parts of the business--and on our board of directors--have a real appreciation for the value that information technology is bringing to help us accomplish our mission?

As CIO, my job is to act as my team's chief marketing officer and evangelize about all the exciting things we are doing in IT to drive real business value. We are contributing to the revenue engine, effectively and efficiently delivering a broad set of services, and ensuring that we have a direct and deep engagement with our customers.

In addition, we are providing key information that allows all of us to make quick, educated strategic decisions. My job is to keep IT's value proposition clear and make sure it's always front-and-center on the business radar screens.

Finally, I need to ensure that my team doesn't read our press clipping and become complacent. We have had a great deal of success over the past few years, but it is imperative that we remain hungry and are not satisfied with resting on our laurels.

As you can see, I have plenty keeping me up these days. So, the next time you see me walking around with bags under my eyes, you'll understand why. Larry Bonfante is CIO at the United States Tennis Association and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com.