“Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything?
“If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.” —Will Rogers
I was talking to the CIO at one of our client banks the other day and asked him how it was going. His response was, “I’m at a full sprint 24X7 to avoid getting any farther behind.” When I commented that he sounded pretty overwhelmed, he laughed and said he left overwhelmed behind about six months ago.
I don’t think many CIOs we work with would say anything much different. Fraud issues/required investments … vendor management regulations … a multitude of system releases/upgrades … acquisitions/mergers … new technologies … mobile employees … information demands … oh, and it’s going to be a lean year so can you keep the budget at 5% over last year? Man, it’s enough to make you want to shut the door, head for a remote southern hemisphere beach, close your eyes, assume the lotus position, try and remember your mantra from college days and take a serious stab at finding that elusive chakra.
To say the least, there has never been less time for CIOs to get away for seminars, schools and other means of learning about everything new on the technology front. It has also never been more important to do so, and (ironically) it has never been harder. The reason I say that is because many of the key areas where CIOs need better knowledge are those where the technology is so new the “experts” that run the seminars are still in the process of figuring out the whole subject themselves.
So, what should a CIO target in terms of education for the next 12 months? What are specific areas of knowledge and new skills that are at the top of the list? Here in the Land of Gonz, we have done some pondering and would humbly submit a CIO Curriculum for 2008 (or what’s left of it). In no particular order of importance:1. AML/BSA/Fraud Detection Compliance. Everybody has attended conferences and studied issues, threats, trends, etc. in this area as a matter of survival. What has many management teams concerned, though, is the question of what is necessary just from a regulatory/compliance view. This is no doubt caused by some pretty scathing BSA audits of late, but still presents a fair concern – how do we know we’re doing enough to satisfy regulators and auditors? This does not at all mean that they only want to do what is minimally required. Rather, it means that there is a desire to understand what is necessary. CIOs, in conjunction with the risk management group, need to be able to address this.
Where to get it? Probably conferences, particularly those sponsored by or with heavy participation from the regulatory agencies.2. Mobile Banking 2.0. The first phase of mobile banking, which was creating the access and a limited number of inquiry/alert features, is already mainstream for any bank that plays in retail. The 2.0 version will focus on mobile payments and money management, i.e. transactions via mobile. There are some real questions about what customers will actually use relative to payments and how quickly they will adopt; whether the investment is necessary right now; whether security and risk issues are manageable; and whether the loss of big deposit customers (or the inability to get new ones) may result from not making the investment. There’s also the small matter of how this technology works, how it fits with existing systems, and what standards will emerge. This is a classic example of a bank needing to decide how to respond to new technical advances, and CIOs need to be the “scouts” on this.
Where to get it? Again, it’s probably conferences dedicated to the topic and meetings with core/Internet banking vendors.3. Collaborative Software 2.0. We all have seen how specific pieces of software can produce a huge benefit when everybody commits to using it. (Can anybody remember how we scheduled meetings before group calendars arrived on the scene? Or how it would work – or not – if only 75% of the bank managers used it?) The next round of collaborative software has huge promise to automate workflow, decision making and plain old exchanging of ideas. Microsoft SharePoint is just one example of a platform that some banks have already used very creatively for workflow and information sharing. However, it will not work just because the technology is way cool. It will work when somebody that understands how to apply it to particular business needs can quantify the benefit to employees.
Where to get it? Probably from vendors via conferences and other education opportunities, then peers for success stories.
4. Project Resource Management. Many IT managers are struggling with how they assign the right number of people to the day-to-day functions and the right number of (or remaining) people to projects. This is made worse by the fact that project requests are easily 200% of project capacity in IT at all times. CIOs need to understand how to properly allocate limited resources and, more importantly, get management to agree they are being well utilized.
“Now there must be a better way to educate, cause this way ain’t working like it should.
Can’t they just invent a pill or frozen concentrate
that makes you smarter … ”
—Twisted Sister, “Be Chrool To Your School”
Where to get it? There are several training groups and professional organizations that are focused on project management and the related skills/methodologies required.5. How to Negotiate. Roll your eyes if you want, but many CIOs we know would benefit greatly from having better skills in negotiating internally with their users. This is not a “how to win and leave the other side panting and bloodied” class. It’s one that allows the CIO to better understand how to distinguish the crucial bank needs from the nice-to-haves, how to counter with something that works for both sides, how to say no without just saying no, and how to construct a resolution to disagreements that occur all too often between IT and its internal clients. It’s about tactics and skill sets.
Where to get it? Local colleges, professional organizations, maybe the local bar association.
These are five suggestions we would make based on our travels in the bank world. If you want to give this list the stink eye, fine. Just come with up with your own list and pursue it.
We all know there’s no time for this, and we all know that there’s no better time for this. To the CEO reading this article – make your CIO spend at least 10 days this year just on education. Make them.
Because we all have the same vision, one that was so eloquently uttered by Dan Quayle: “We’re going to have the best-educated American people in the world.” ’Nuff said.