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10 Phrases That Should Set Off Every CIO's BS Detector

        posted by , December 17, 2011

Every CIO wants one — a little box that beeps at BS.

CIOs depend upon their instincts and experience to filter important information from BS. Here are 10 phrases to watch out for:

1. Competitive Advantage

Often used to support vague business cases. Business cases should tie to increased revenue, decreased costs and customer experience — not vague statements about efficiency.

2. Audit

Audits have become the most common excuse for IT groups to avoid productive work. Audits are a constant fact of life and productive work needs to happen in parallel.

3. Security

Security is a close second to audits as an excuse to avoid work.

If your IT folks are telling you things are impossible because of security risks — they are usually wrong. Many IT staff have only a cursory understanding of security and rely on silver bullets such as firewalls for everything.

If you know what you are doing, you can secure almost anything — but you can't secure anything with just a firewall.

4.I'm Busy Making Money

It's a challenge for every CIO — low commitment and cooperation from business users. IT depends on business users for proper requirements, data entry etc ... The most common excuse goes something like this — "I am a revenue generator and IT is a cost ... I have no time". Sound familiar?

No business can afford to make IT a low priority.

My previous CIO had a problem with sales people who refused to enter their contacts and opportunities — the sales pipeline reporting was a shambles.

The uncooperative sales people were the same people leaving early and disappearing every Friday on mysterious off-site meetings.

So the CIO implemented a comprehensive sales timesheet and activities tracker. The uncooperative sales people got the message.

5. We need a Consultant

Outsourcing and offshoring are so prevalent in many organizations that IT personnel are hesitant to do anything without a consultant involved.

6. Best Practices

Often used in support of buying a product or hiring a consultant. As in "we can leverage their best practices". Often the speaker has no idea what these best practices are or why they are useful.

7. Offline

"Let's take this offline" is often just a nice way of saying "let's drop it".

8. Best of Breed

This buzzword has virtually no meaning. It should mean that a product or solution has won an award of some kind. It is often just used to state the obvious — that the product or service is offered by a large company. You might as well say something like "I want to buy this product because it comes from a big company so it must be good."

9. Can't

It is generally more valid to explain architectural constraints, challenges, costs etc... than to just say that something is impossible.

10. Three Letter Acronyms and Other Techno Babble

Some IT folks attempt to impress upper management with technobabble . Technobabble may be innocent enough — on the other hand it is a easy way to get away with BS.

IT Managers and Architects should have the interpersonal skills to target communication to their audience.


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