I was reading this on the CIO Weblog:
"How is this for alignment? Eye care company Bausch & Lomb has named Alan Farnsworth as CIO... and Senior Vice President of Customer Service. I've heard of CFOs doubling as CIOs. A COO doubling up on the role would raise no eyebrows here. But customer service?
Mr. Farnsworth, who has been with the company since 1998 and has most recently held the position of president of the company's Europe, Middle East, and Asia division, doesn't appear to have a lick of IT experience in his background. " -- CIO Weblog
Well, I.T. involves quite a bit of customer service. Especially in dealing with the support side of the house, this is where a customer service oriented person can fit the bill (just remember IT isn't all about computer technical support). If this guy were technical (in addition to the customer service background), I think it would be a great move. Heck all executives should have some kind of customer service background, in addition to their primary craft. I'll give examples, CFO's should have an accounting background, General Counsel = Attorney, and CIO should have a technical background.
The problem is that employees, employers, and managers do not understand technology. How many times have you been asked to fix a computer? Just because I am in I.T. doesn't mean I fix computers for a living! That is the misconception about IT, people think we are the helpdesk. Would you make a helpdesk person your CIO?
However some managers/biz owners will hand a helpdesk person a million dollar project and the helpdesk person will fail at it. So when those same managers/biz owners think of CIO, they want a proven leader. Since most folks think IT=personal computers & personal computers = support, hiring a non technical CIO doesn't matter.
The only thing IT people do is fix computers! Right? Wrong! However, let's not take the non-technical CIO's for granted. Mr. Farnsworth (for example) is a proven leader. Proven leaders understand their strengths and their short comings. If technology is not his thing, a proven CTO as his counterpart will fit the bill. Another quality of a proven leader is the ability to decipher information, adhere to recommendations from staff, and execute those recommendations!
My two cents, all executives should have a customer service background. I think it is good for business as it teaches win/win techniques. --My two cents!