Is it time for a Chief (insert buzzword here) Officer?

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Buzzword Bingo By 8lettersuk on flickrIt seems like every month, a new article and/or new research is released proclaiming that the timing is perfect for a new type of “Chief” in the world of technology. Chief Collaboration Officer.  Chief Content Officer. Chief Marketing Technology Officer. Chief Security Officer.  etc. etc.

Each time I read one of these articles / research reports, I find myself nodding and agreeing with the arguments for this new ‘chief’.   The latest article that I ran across titled Time is ripe for Chief Mobility Office over on the Enterprise CIO Forum proclaims now is the time for the Chief Mobility Officer. There’s nothing there that i disagree with.

After reading these types of articles, I usually tend to step back and think about the reason for proclamations like this.  More times than not, its because there’s a real problem within an organization  that someone is trying to solve. This problem has manifested itself in such a way as to require real focus on that topical area to solve the problem – hence the new ‘chief’.

But…is creating a new role really going to solve the underlying problem?

For an example, let’s look at the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (aka Chief Marketing Technologist) role which  has been popularized by Scott Brinker over the last few years. Its a great idea and a role that I’d love to see take off in most organizations. But…will this new ‘Chief’ really solve the underlying problems for the organization?  Sure…it might help the marketing team get more things done with technology, but what happens in the long run?  Does IT get more involved over the longer term and help or does Marketing manage their own technology?  Does this new role really create value…or just create more problems longer term?

The issues underlying most of the proclamations have to do with one thing…someone (or some group) not doing the job the organization needs them to do. Mind you…its not that this person/group is intentionally not doing what they should do.  Its that they aren’t doing what the organization needs them to do. And…oftentimes…the organization doesn’t KNOW that they need this person/group to do something different.

Rather than create a new ‘chief’ to solve the problem…I suggest we start pushing back on the ‘chiefs’ that are already in place and get them to push their teams – and the organization – into doing the things that need to get done.

The easy answer will always be to add a new department or new team to fix the problems or ‘focus on the challenges’.  The hard answer is to get your current leadership team (e.g., the “chief’s”) to step up and provide the leadership that’s needed to get the organization to where it needs to be.

Image Credit: Buzzword Bingo By 8lettersuk on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

2 responses to “Is it time for a Chief (insert buzzword here) Officer?”

  1. Paul Calento Avatar

    Specific to the Chief Mobility Officer, John Dodge started an interesting poll on Enterprise CIO Forum asking, “Does the movement toward work anywhere, cloud and smart phones begin to validate the idea of a chief mobility officer?” Surprisingly, to me, 28% (little over 1 in 4) say yes.

    New titles make sense on a case by basis, but I’m not sure that we need yet another C-level title that doesn’t quite fit in with the larger C-suite. Many CIOs are still trying to get a seat at the table.

    –Paul Calento
    (note: I work on select projects for IDG/CIO, including ECF sponsored by HP Instant-On Enterprise)

    1. Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. Avatar

      Hi Paul –

      Thanks for stopping by. I didn’t catch the poll…will jump over and take a look at it now. I agree with you RE: titles. With the CIO having trouble getting a seat, why add more people to the seating list?