From Steve Jobs's Leadership Style to IT's Evolution in the Workplace: An Interview with Eric Bloom—Part 2

[interview]
Summary:

Eric Bloom is a writer for TechWell and is the president and CTO of Manager Mechanics LLC. In part two of this interview, Eric discusses how IT is becoming more interwined with management than ever before, career challenges for IT staff, and the idea of concierge tech support.

Eric Bloom is a writer for TechWell and is the president and CTO of Manager Mechanics LLC. In part two of this interview, Eric discusses how IT is becoming more interwined with management than ever before, career challenges for IT staff, and the idea of concierge tech support.

Jonathan Vanian: I want to talk to you about IT and the role of the CIO. What trends are you seeing in modern day IT? What's happening that people should be aware of?

Eric Bloom: There is a movement afoot, and the (related) term has been around for a long time. It used to be all about data processing, and then it moved to management information systems (MIS), and then it moved to IT—information technology. Now, there's a strong IT mega-trend afoot that is basically about bringing IT even closer to the business, to where IT is slowly moving to what they call business technology (BT). From information technology to business technology, in which they say there are no IT projects, only business projects.

Since IT supports the business, everything that IT does should be able to tie back to some sort of internal business as opposed to simply being a technology goal.

JV: So, it's like keeping the two departments more intertwined or in-the-loop of each other?

EB: Yes.

JV: Is this similar to the idea of DevOps?

EB: It could be, absolutely, if CIOs— in general—were being pushed to be very strong senior business executives who, by the way, happen to know a lot about technology instead of being chief technologists.

JV: When you were starting out in your career, was there a view that as a CIO, one generally doesn’t have as much managerial experience as those in senior management?

EB: Well, let me say, it's not managerial experience. It's mental focus.

JV: Mental focus, okay.

EB: Certainly, CIOs were very, very good managers, but they had to focus first on technology and second on the business, as opposed to first on the business and second on technology. How they thought earlier in my career, the truth is, I didn't know. I wish I took some of my classes when I was in my twenties.

JV: It seems like we are seeing more references to the CIO in today’s news. Five years ago in mainstream news, the CIO would have not really been referenced in stories, but now, you have news coming out in which every company is sort of a development company and you're now seeing the names of CIOs.

EB: Also, technology used to be—let's say in the '80s—a new and exciting world. “You too can automate your general ledger system,” but most of that stuff has become, obviously, a very common choice now. The latest direction we have seen is that IT is moving from the back office in some ways into the front office.

I'll give you a specific example. With the movement on the web towards utilizing social media into an act of listening in which where firms analyze what companies and people are saying about them, there's a much tighter alliance between the CIO and the VP of marketing, the CMO, or whatever you want to call them.

JV: Right, the two are intertwined.

EB: But marketing and IT has, really for the first time, a much deeper relationship than simply giving the creative people in marketing some PCs so that they can run high-quality graphics. The two have become connected because of how they are related to the digital world.

JV: Right, because IT is keeping tabs of all the data that is coming and flowing in, and I'm sure that's very useful data for marketing. It makes more sense that's happening nowadays.

EB: Absolutely.

JV: Can you elaborate a little bit about your newest book, CIO's Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity?

EB: There are two things that came together in this book. One of which is that having had senior IT executive roles, I think like a CIO. It's where I grew up to be. On the other hand, is the nature of my column with IT World, called "Your IT Career."

I'm literally getting mail from people around the world asking questions about their careers. Things like “Is it better to become an analysis or a project manager?” “Should I get an MBA or a masters in computer science?  

These people were asking me these questions as opposed to their management because I'm not their management. If they worked for me and someone else wrote the IT career column, they'd be asking that person instead of me. What's that given me is a really deep understanding of the people within IT, the IT rank and file so to speak.

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About the author

Jonathan Vanian's picture Jonathan Vanian

Jonathan Vanian is an online editor who edits, writes, interviews, and helps turn the many cranks at StickyMinds, TechWell, AgileConnection, and CMCrossroads. He has worked for newspapers, websites, and a magazine, and is not as scared of the demise of the written word as others may appear to be. Software and high technology never cease to amaze him.

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