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The iPad Proves CIOs are Useless

The original iPad has rapidly become the "must-have" item for executives, sales professionals and a host of others. According to Apple, 80% of Fortune 100 companies are testing or deploying iPads. But you don't need Apple to tell you that. Just get on a plane or walk around an airport.

Business folk like the iPad because it provides information, entertainment and the ability to get some work done, while shedding the stinking incubus of the Microsoft Windows environment, with all it's wonky, klunky "you gotta edit the registry" insanity.

(BTW, the reason that Android won't beat the iPad is that it's almost as wonky as Windows.)

I know that in the sales environment, some of the absolute coolest applications are coming up on the iPad. I recently had a great interview with the folks over at Brainshark about their new (and free) sales presentation app which turns the iPad into a flexible sales training and sales presentation tool. Very, very cool stuff.

Anyway, a recent article in USA Today sums up the reaction of the CIOs of the world to the wild popularity of the iPad among the people whom they're supposed to be supporting. Check it out:

Yet corporate adoption can move only as fast as IT departments will allow. IT groups must decide what kinds of data can and can't be accessed on the devices, among other issues, before allowing them on company networks.
Sound familiar? It ought to, because here again we see the concept of IT (of which the CIO job title is the apotheosis) blocking people from using verbotten computer technology to get the job done.

The exact same thing happened when regular office folk embraced the PC. CIOs fought the adoption of the PC tooth and nail because the PC was "uncontrolled" and was a "security risk." More recently, it took a decade to get CIOs to stop treating cell phones like they were a social disease. Even today, many office workers are forced to buy their own, even though it's a major element of their work environment.

And how about CRM? For years, CIOs promoted the idea that CRM should be part of a massive ERP system controlled from corporate headquarters. But sales pros wanted something they could use now and which was easy to customize, resulting in the meteoric rise of Salesforce.com, and consequently the popularity of cloud computing, much of which is being implemented without the approval of the CIOs of the world.

So now we have the iPad, and it's like the CIOs have learned NOTHING WHATSOEVER. It's still the same song, still the same complaints, and still the same stupidity.

A few months ago, I included "CIO" among a list of "Top 5 Highly Paid But Useless Corporate Jobs." I received plenty of negative comments for that, most along the line of "you need a CIO to set IT strategy, yada, yada, yada..."

Those comments missed the point. Nowhere was I saying that you don't need somebody to run the data plumbing. However, when you give the head plumbers C-level salaries and job titles, they start thinking that they're leaders... when they're supposed to be servants.
When confronted with a device that people in the company want to use, the correct response from the CIO should be "How many do you need?" and not "wait, wait, wait, we can't control it."

Unfortunately, having a CIO almost guarantees that the IT group will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into doing what they would probably do on their own, if there weren't a tin-pot CIO strutting around headquarters trying to pretend that he's strategic.

READERS: Anyone want to share stories about how your IT group made life miserable for you?

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