Not every corporate CIO is suited for the consultants role. Far from it. In fact, solutions providers and consultancies have to be extra cautious in bringing corporate IS chiefs into what is an entirely different culture. "The attrition rate of CIOs who come over is about 50 percent during the first year," warns Andersens Tom Mangan.
Why do industry types have trouble adjusting? For one thing, the organization structure is entirely different. "Theres no clearly defined hierarchy," Mangan explains. "Partners can be leaders in one role, team players in another."
IT consultants also have to network with their peers and share ideas to get things done. They have to be able to work without a lot of support or infrastructure. For instance, when Mangan was an industry CIO, he had several hundred people in his organization and a staff of 10 he could leverage. "When you come into a consulting organization, you dont have a large staff," he explains. "Its a far more hands-on approach than perhaps some CIOs are used to."
Finally, as a consultant its not enough simply to master the technology. "Communications skills are very important," Mangan says. "You can be very competent in understanding technology, but if you cant communicate what you know, you wont be successful. You also have to know how to sell and what signals to look for when youre meeting with clients, integrators or other consultancies."
Then, of course, theres the travel. Unless an industry CIO is eager to add 200,000 or so miles to his frequent-flier account, he or she probably should remain where they are.