CIO torture ends in BlackBerry envy

CIO torture ends in BlackBerry envy

Summary: Executives compare the size of their smartphones.


On Thursday afternoon I witnessed about 30 CIOs from various companies being forced to do manual labour while getting shouted at and sprayed with sea water. I'd be surprised if any went home without at least a few bruises -- I know I have a few injuries from the day.

So why did the CIOs happily put up with this kind of abuse on a sunny Thursday afternoon?

The answer is that they were taking part in a yacht race on Sydney Harbour hosted by Emerson Network Power, a company that develops power and climate control systems for some of the biggest datacentres on the planet.

Emerson had arranged for two 64-foot yachts, which were built to take part in previous round the world races, to be manned by an experienced skipper but crewed by some of their favourite customers and partners.

It was an amusing sight seeing all these bigwigs being ordered to perform tasks such as dragging in sails, manning the grinders and tacking across the crowded deck -- acting as ballasts as the yacht zig zagged its way through the water at extraordinary angles.

Even more amusing was the scene once we got back onto dry land.

As the group was served a well-deserved cold beer, virtually everyone was glued to their BlackBerrys to make sure they hadn't missed that vital e-mail during the boating experience.

The envy of the group ended up being one executive who at first seemed to be sending text messages. However, on closer inspection he was using one of the latest products from RIM, the BlackBerry Pearl (pic).

BlackBerry Pearl 8100

The Pearl looks no bigger than a regular mobile phone but allows you to do pretty much anything you can on a regular BlackBerry.

As the other CIOs ohh and ahhed with admiration, the Pearl-using exec explained that the device was so new he still hadn't figured out how to switch it onto predictive text mode. However, he didn't seem in any hurry to swap it back for an old version.

I would love to know how many of the envious CIOs immediately used their older BlackBerrys to inform their purchasing managers that their current device had been affected by the salt water and would need replacing in the very near future.

Topics: BlackBerry, CXO, Collaboration, Mobility

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • Pay close attention there, vendors.

    While CIOs are employed to make technology work for the business, they are more interested in the 'coolness' of the technology itself. This may be because they never grew up around computers and even if the technology is meant for business, they cant help but be captivated by its 'shiny bauble' properties.

    The lesson for Vendors is: The BI tool with the best executive dashboard but worst analytics engine will get the CIOs cheque book out every time. For the baby boomer CIO, Coolness = sales.

    The lesson for CEOs is to hire CIOs from within IT, but with their eye on the business, not from within the business with their eye on technology.
  • That deserves comment of the year award

    Nothing else needs to be said
  • Boys and their toys is a phrase that often comes to mind.

    In my opinion from having worked with and consulted to a large number of Australian and Asian CIO's, those who are technologist at heart often fail to deliver on the needs on the business. Today's successful CIO needs to have a balanced skill with a good more business and commercial acumen than technology. It never ceases to amaze me how many CIO's are not regarded as an equal with other CxO's in the organisation and often have reporting lines with the CFO or COO a measure of how real senior management see them. The biggest reason for this state of affairs is traditionally CIO's and their variants (IT director, manager etc), often lack the ability to prioritise and align IT investment with the goals and direction of business, and need someone who can mentor and control the decisions with a view on the needs of the company.

    How can a CIO be taken seriously when they are playing with their latest gadgets and not engaging with the business on how IT can be a strategic capability? I'm not saying that all CIO's are like this, but I'd certainly say those who are from the IT organisation generally are. The best CIO's from the perspective of business leaders and those who deliver demonstrable benefits typically come from a business background or technologists who have made the successful transition to the business world and are business leaders in their own right!

    Until CIO's manage IT like a business, their blackberry antics just make me laugh and makes me realise how far we as an industry and business discipline have yet to go.

    One industry that is a great breading ground for understanding these points is the world of investment banking. This industry knows how to turn IT into a strategic capability.
  • Blackberry

    Well their is very easy setting of blackberry mobile phone is setting option and other option are very easy in use.