The short history of information technology has seen a couple generations of leaders. Is a third generation now emerging?

First-generation CIOs—often called the “Director of Data Processing”—were the unquestioned rulers of their domains who knew technology well, but little about business. Business leaders acquiesced to IT demands because they were in unfamiliar territory. This era faded around 1980 with the proliferation of desktop computing, and the advent of more technically savvy customers and executives. The ‘80s saw the rise of the CIO, who as “order taker,” was expected to both understand business and serve up scoops of enabling technology; much like Baskin-Robbins scoops up ice cream—and just as quickly, if you please. The job tenure of that CIO averaged three years, as they failed to satisfy the demands of their customer base.

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