It wasn't long ago that people regularly joked about how CIO really stood for "Career is over." The story of bank technology in the late 1980s and early '90s was marked by huge systems projects that typically went awry in some way. Since chief information officers were usually the powers behind such initiatives, they typically paid the price for failure.
Today, even though accountability and transparency are the watchwords for any bank IT initiative, CIOs seem to be somewhat less vulnerable. But I suspect the (slight) improvement in job security has less to do with leniency or lower standards than the fact that today's most successful technology executives bring a lot more to the table than simply computer expertise.
To see how the job has changed and who is leading the transformation, Bank Systems & Technology identified some of the industry's most successful senior technologists, and the results are featured in this issue - The CIO Elite: Banking's Most Effective CIOs. We solicited recommendations from our readers, as well as vendors, consultants and analysts. We also reviewed the pages of BS&T for examples of excellence, to come up with the six outstanding executives whom Associate Editor Cynthia Ramsaran has profiled in this issue.
How did we define "excellence"? We considered accomplishments in key strategic areas, including managing mergers or restructuring; supporting a strategy of service and customer-centricity; contributing to growth; and effective resource management. While the executives featured in this inaugural special report certainly make the grade on these criteria, they are far from the only tech chiefs in the industry who excel.
In fact, for all the lamenting about the ongoing lack of IT/business alignment, today's senior IT executives are, for the most part, more diverse in perspective, more results-oriented and more attuned to the strategic needs of the bank - in short, more effective - than their predecessors from 15 or 20 years ago.
Not to trash previous generations of CIOs, but as the requirements have changed, so have the capabilities and attitudes of the people seeking to meet those requirements. I welcome your feedback on this year's honorees, and encourage you to clue me in to executives whom we should consider in 2005.
Katherine Burger, Editorial Director email@example.com