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The Politics Of Being A Retail CIO

September 12th, 2012

So in some cases CIOs cheat a little. Just like a bill getting bloated with provisions as it passes through congress, CIOs are often forced to attach small cleanup efforts to other projects. When I recently asked a group of about 100 IT leaders if they had recently “bloated a project” for cleanup purposes, about 80 percent of the people in the room raised their hand.

This means timelines are extended and budgets are increased in an effort to carry the float. Executives start to question why projects are taking so long and costing so much.

At a CIO networking event a few years ago, a bunch of the local CIOs across all industries were standing in a circle and having a drink. Someone in the group mentioned the “curse” related to speaking at this event. At least one of the panelists had been fired within 30 days of speaking at the event. It had nothing to do with speaking on the panel; it’s just the reality that one in five CIOs job is likely at risk at any given point in time. For this event, in particular, at least one panelist had bitten the bullet in each of the last three years (and the same has been true in the two years since the event I attended).

One of the CIOs in that group spoke up and suggested everyone in the circle look at the person to their left and introduce that person to their boss. He proffered that sometime within the next two years our own bosses would be unhappy with our performance and that it would be smart to make a connection with another CIO in the same group. At least then the role could be kept within the family, he joked.

Although we laughed hard about the concept that night, and I have since told that story dozens of times, the joke has a stinging truth to it: The odds are stacked against long-term tenure within a single organization.

To maximize both the business benefit delivered and their personal career income statements, new retail CIOs should do a few things:

What do you think? If you disagree (or even, heaven forbid, agree), please comment below or send me a private message. Or check out the Twitter discussion on @todd_michaud.


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Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

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