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A Top 10 List of What CIOs Really Want

 In ITSM Tools, IT Service Management Blog

We went to two CIO events last week. Here’s a quick summary below. 

While service outages were of course top of mind, a lot of the items that keep CIOs awake at night, provide inspiration, and create day-to-day challenges were not what we expected.   

Where do CIOs go to share what’s on their minds/mission statements?

The two events we attended were:

  1.  “The Hive’s Digital Transformation:  A CIO’s perspective” featuring Wendy Pfeiffer, Sharon Mandell, Praniti Lakhwara and Marti Menacho with the excellent moderator Win Ferrar
  2. HMG’s “Future State 2025 CIO” event in Seattle, where our co-founder Dan Turchin was a keynote speaker

Here is the top 10 list of what CIOs want.  (Note: we’ve focused on what they want vs. what keeps them awake at night; though there was a fair amount of overlap.)

  1. We Dream of Days without Data Breaches / Service Outages

OK, this was not a surprise. – it is the CIO’s job to keep the lights on / the systems working. 

Breaches and outages are happening more often and with increasing intensity.  In fact, two of the four speakers at the Hive Panel said their first day had some excitement along this line.  But dealing with these issues rarely happens in a vacuum, and that’s why the next item was quite an eye opener.

  1. We Will Do All We Can to Preserve The Brand

A CIO is not just responsible for the systems that keep the internal processes working – at the end of the day this office is the one that helps the company keep all swim lanes going.  Successful CIOs have to be able to balance the urgent with the important.

“If I have to choose prioritizing the customer getting their package, and sorting a data issue, I will focus on the customer!”  shared one of the IT professionals at the HMG event.

  • We Want Our Insights to Help C-Suite to Make the Best Decisions

Managing the data means gathering a lot of insight.  An insightful CIO adds depth and discernment to the questions that the C-Suite and board grapple with.  As Dan shared his top insights that IT should share with the C-Suite, there was much note taking and head nodding. 

  • We Want to Use Our Own Companies’ Technology

One of The Hive’s panelists spoke of coming to her company and having to approve a huge payment to a competitor. She then spent the next business cycle implementing her company’s solution and having a lot of useful feedback for product and sales teams.  

At the HMG event, the CIO of Zoom presented via Zoom – and was able to share the experience with his full team who were also on screen and interactive.  Dog Food: eaten.

  • We Believe Enterprise Software CAN be as Delightful as Consumer Software

One of the CIOs at The Hive event revealed her true nerd roots by sharing her dream of a world where corporate rollouts are as well received as Pokemon Go: no training needed… device agnostic… enthusiastic users helping each other worldwide. 

We live in a world where Alexa and Siri prove honestly helpful – and we realize that for a growing number of our #digitalnative (that is, Millennial) employees, this is how they grew up and their expectations are set accordingly.

  • We Do NOT Want to Replace Humans.  (We want to Augment them.)

If you ask any employee of an IT organization about the key benefits of technology like AI, they’ll respond “they want to replace me with a machine…”.  But a savvy IT leader knows that technology can remove the repetitive scut work, which is where a huge amount of errors occur, according to an IT director at the HMG event.  

In fact, the same CEO that called out her love for the uncanny ease of Pokemon Go followed her thoughts on augmented reality with a vision of how the best AI takes down barriers so humans can better do their job.  AI helped her organization ease the path for employees to use company issued Docusign, when previously it was far easier to do the shadow IT hack of downloading the free version.

  • We Yearn for Multi-year Contracts with Vendors Who Prove to Be True Partners

With a multi-year contract, we get rid of the annual Groundhog Day effect of having to do the same steps over and over (and over and over).  The efficiency of this arrangement was highlighted by the CIOs at The Hive panel, and a savvy MSP leader shared his observation that not having to go into sales cycles enables the vendor to focus on optimizing the technology.  “AI is the key to maximizing their productivity and our profit in a multi-year engagement.”

  • We Love to Share (the Right) Common Metrics with our Business Partners

One of The Hive CIOs shared her favorite metric.  She challenges her project teams to record a metric called FTR – First Time Right.  Akin to the old saying of measure twice, cut once, if you take the time to do things right the first time, you will discover optimal ways to do things.  She also lauded our favorite: NPS, or Net Promoter Score. You want people to want to work with you and to promote you to their colleagues.

  • We Love to Find/Be Positive Partners When It’s Time to Buy or Be Bought

One of The Hive panelists had to onboard 3 smaller, acquired companies in the last 2 years and was now being acquired by a larger entity.  Making all the systems work together can be a positive or negative experience where everyone protects their pet processes.

Change is never easy, but inflection points can be exhilarating times where you leap forward or fall back. Taking a common positive attitude is not solely the domain of the IT team, but we can model leadership.

  •  We Aspire to Leadership Vs. Management

This is a theme our friend Mark Settle uses in the opening of his excellent book “Truth from the Trenches” where he shares observations on leading from within the IT organization.  Yes, many will use the terms interchangeably but leadership calls for enthusiasm, creativity and a shared vision that will let the tools and techniques best enhance the quality of life for employees and support the overall business mission for the organization.


We realize tales from two CIO events can’t capture all the thoughts and desires of CIOs, but the themes are clear.  The desire to use technology to improve human capabilities is not only nearly ubiquitous, it is driving revolutions, not evolutions, in the organizations with inspired CIOs.  

If you’d like to hear more inspiring tales, we post them twice monthly on our podcast “AI and the Future of Work.”  

If this sounds like a compelling way to pass your commute, subscribe here.


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