A CIO's 3am nightmare

commentary Linus Gates, chief information officer of The Heartless Corporate Conglomerate Pty Ltd, woke with a sharp jolt, soaked with sweat. He glanced over to his bedside table, where his alarm clock luminously displayed 3:17am.

commentary Linus Gates, chief information officer of The Heartless Corporate Conglomerate Pty Ltd, woke with a sharp jolt, soaked with sweat. He glanced over to his bedside table, where his alarm clock luminously displayed 3:17am.

"Not again" Gates groaned as he sat up and rubbed his eyes. It was the same nightmare as last night -- and the one before that. A fractious meeting with an angry chief executive officer, followed by a desperate (and seemingly never-ending) scouring of recruitment Web sites for skilled people to deliver the IT&T requirements of the Conglomerate's rapidly growing businesses. He yawned -- there was more to the dream, something about desperately having to barricade the door to his office against foaming-at-the-mouth Linux fanatics and virus-infected proprietary software proponents screaming "It's YOUR doom now!!" -- but he couldn't remember that bit properly.

Thirsty, Gates swung his legs over the side of the bed, stood and stretched quietly so as not to disturb his still-sleeping wife. He padded downstairs rubbing his eyes, musing over the latest Gartner report into the priorities of himself and his peers. Apparently two-thirds of the CIO community saw themselves "at risk," based on the chief executive officer's view of information technology and its performance. Gates' face twisted sourly as he remembered the six-hour outage of the Conglomerate's Web site the previous week. His feisty chief executive officer, George Trump, had only been placated by a pledge from Gates to review the contract with the Corporation's Internet service provider to see if there was a way out of it. Trump had, however, directed Gates in no uncertain terms to update him weekly on his progress. The memory prompted Gates to pour out the glass of water he had been planning to drink and head over to the liquor cabinet. Nothing less than a shot of tequila would take the edge off that memory.

Feeling a tad more relaxed, Gates wandered over to his notebook and stared blankly at the keyboard for a moment. He remembered how, three weeks ago, he had spent hours composing his case for a pay rise. A compelling document, or so he thought. A slight tactical error had brought Gates undone. He had attempted to equate his position and duties -- and consequent remuneration demands -- with those of the chief information officer of Iconic Australian Animal Airlines. Trump, well-lubricated by several lunchtime beverages, had not enjoyed the demand for a package of more than AU$1 million. In fact, Gates thought, wincing, he had only just ducked the heavy leather chair that hurtled centimetres over his head. Once Trump had settled down, he had demanded a full account of the information technology organisation's ability to deliver the business process improvements signed off by the executive team. Gates' answer -- that a hefty skills shortage in key areas was threatening the organisation's ability to do so -- hadn't exactly gone down well. In fact, an apoplectic Trump had completely ignored his subsequent justification that only 39 percent of his colleagues believed they had the right people to deliver on the business planning. Gates remembered with a wince how close he had become to suffering the fate bestowed on all bar one of the contestants of The Apprentice by Trump's namesake.

"There's got to be an easier way to make a living," Gates thought as he wearily headed back to bed.

What do you think? Are CIOs under intense pressure this year? What are the top IT priorities in your organisation? E-mail us at edit@zdnet.com.au and let us know.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All