Consumerism and the Irrelevant CIO

iPhone, uPHone, we all scream for iPhones.  The NASA CIOs just had a CIO-like conversation about iPhones.  And so, I can check email and get reservations at Ruth’s Chris on the same end user device.  Wow. But what does that really mean? Is there really room for this consumer device in the Enterprise?


Consider Consumerism and the use of Web 2.0 technologies.  At Gartner’s Emerging Technologies Best Practices Council we posed, what I affirm, is a bar room question, how do we harness the power of Web 2.0?  Harnessing Web 2.0 is analogous to taming a wild mustang.  You can do it, but it would be wrong.  How can you tame the untamable?  The power Web 2.0 is atomic and it’s viral.


My brother-in-law, Eric, was complaining about his IT Department.  He needed a snazzy little application that would help his productivity in meetings.  Of course his IT Department wanted written requirements, an IT security plan, and a risk management plan.  So, I said, look on the Microsoft Template Gallery, you’ll find something.  And he sure did.  By the next day, he had what he needed.  Surely any Federal CIO will tell you how important it is to meet requirements, ensure security, and manage risk.  But, how do we get to YES faster while still tending to the things we need to tend to in a responsible manner?


During this Thanksgiving holiday, I noticed an interesting image.  I have a kitchen table that sits six people in the breakfast area.  I was sitting at the table with my two sisters, and my two brothers-in-law.  We were all working on our laptops.  Gee, five laptops — I had a data center in my kitchen.  Oh, and everyone had RSA tokens hanging around their neck, so we were a highly secure data center even.


As CIOs and IT service providers we are used to managing technology.  But what does it mean to lead technology?  The tempo of consumerism moves like a speeding locomotive down a railroad track.  CIOs who jump in front of the speeding train and pretend like they are leading will get run over.  CIOs who lay track that moves the train towards their organization’s goals have the right leadership stuff. 


In a CIO.COM  article, User Management – Users Who Know Too Much and the CIOs Who Fear Them, Ben Worthen challenges CIOs to still think about security, manageability, scalability, and Federal regulations but to do so strategically, not draconically. 


The employees in your company are using consumer IT to work faster, more efficiently and, in many cases, longer hours. Some are even finding new and better ways to get work done. CIOs should be applauding this trend. But when you shut down consumer IT, says William Harmer III, assistant vice president of architecture and technology of financial services company Manulife, “You end up as a dissuader of innovation.”


Growing up as a mainframe systems programmer, I still remember my IT “childhood” when the IT Department became irrelevant with the advent of client server computing.  We were called dinosaurs.  Those of us who didn’t adapt became extinct. I suppose we all learn things from our childhood.  Consumerism is the comet that threatens the Jurassic CIO.  The fittest CIOs are the ones with the right amount of courage, creativity, vision in their leadership DNA.


So is there room for iPhones?  The right answer for the Relevant CIO must be yes, just give me a few seconds to get to yes … but next time, I’ll anticipate your question.  Do I *have* to endure an eighteen month development cycle?  Well, no, here are some resources we can point you to.  Oh, and before you even ask, let me tell you about the atomic power of Web 2.0.  And finally, let me introduce us, we are your Relevant CIOs.


Linda Cureton, CIO/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

12 thoughts on “Consumerism and the Irrelevant CIO”

  1. First let me say I am very pleased to meet you. And let me extend my deep gratitude for your support and willingness to understand. Sometimes a factitious identity is the only security measure we have in ensuring that all proper communications are transfered to proper authorities. Especially in this TIME sensitive state we live in.
    It is vital in the ever growing structure of todays World. Even as we live on the Edge of New Discoveries, let us not forget our past mistakes, OR the achievements that brought us to this point of Purpose.

  2. Keeping pace with the ever-changing technological world is a daunting task, is it not?
    I remember my maternal grandparents’ only nod to technology being a television and a rotary dial telephone, and when I was growing up, it was a “Big Deal” when my parents took the plunge and bought a color TV. That was somewhere during the beginnings of the Apollo program.

    Myself, I became enamored with the mysteries of radio, and embraced shortwave listening, CB radio, and eventually amateur radio. Yes, I was on top of today’s technology, and wasn’t about to become like my grandparents and parents. Or so I thought.

    I have a BlackBerry, a 7100t. My wife gave it to me for our 25th anniversary in 2004. Today, a scant four years later, it’s listed as a “legacy” device on BlackBerry’s site…it was there last year! What’s cutting edge today becomes antiquated tomorrow…but that tomorrow comes at an ever-increasing pace.

    I have upgraded to HDTV, but refuse to buy into the Blu-Ray format. That is my sole concession to “modern technology”. I have given up trying to keep up with the march of technology; for starters, it’s expensive, and you have to ask “do I really need this?” Most of the time, the answer is no.

    I’ll be here in my man-cave, surrounded by my collection of 23 channel CB radios…keep up the good work, Linda.

  3. Nice Post Linda,
    Actually Most Peoples Using Iphone, Because it's very Very Friendly User Interface with New Trends. i'm also Using This Apple V78 phone .


  4. Hehe, I love the sense of humour that builds up when certain types of people come across gems like this site. There is a certain air of respect – what a find!

  5. I must admit that the iphone craze has lasted longer than I thought. My service provider doesn’t carry iphones but they soon will. My kids are their friends are wild about them. I hear a lot of talk about unlocking them and such but that’s all I know.

  6. I must admit that the iphone craze has lasted longer than I thought. My service provider doesn't carry iphones but they soon will. My kids and their friends are wild about them. I hear a lot of talk about unlocking them and such but that's all I know.

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