In the current banking environment, it's really a "be careful what you wish for" situation for CIOs and other technology executives. On one hand, today they have more stature and responsibility than ever before, and IT definitely is viewed as integral to any bank's performance and success. But now that those long-hoped-for conditions have been realized, bank CIOs have to deal with the implications of that expanded responsibility, credibility and visibility.
The days of a technology chief hiding behind the proverbial curtain of a remote data center and mainframe-oriented jargon are long gone. But even today's generation of highly business-savvy IT executives probably is wondering when and how international law, human resources, marketing, financial management and regulatory compliance all became part of their job descriptions.
The demands of the CIO job today are such that no doubt a number of talented individuals simply say, "No thanks!" Luckily for our industry, however, there also are many who embrace the challenges with enthusiasm, creativity, dedication and a commitment to success.
What drives some people to take on these kinds of challenges? This special issue of Bank Systems & Technology aims to provide some answers, in an in-depth special report developed by Senior Editor Maria Bruno-Britz that focuses on "The Technology Elite: Innovative CIOs" (page 23). Drawing on recommendations from readers, vendors, analysts and consultants - as well as our own research and coverage - BS&T profiles six outstanding technology executives who are driving transformation and performance excellence in their organizations.
In the post-Katrina/Rita era, it is clear that leadership should not be taken for granted. The actions of the boss - CIO, CEO, line-of-business head, Director of FEMA - inevitably are going to be scrutinized and second-guessed. True leaders, such as the innovative executives we feature in this issue, understand that their success ultimately is measured by the effective use of resources and the happiness of customers and colleagues, and they anticipate and welcome such scrutiny.
They also recognize that the one constant in banking is the inevitability of change - including (maybe especially) changes involving their own jobs.