He starts off by quoting David Copperfield, but it’s another famous conjuror who winds up being the rather gruesome inspiration for IT leaders from Josh Peirez.

In a recently-uploaded YouTube clip entitled, ‘The Modern CIO is Like a Strategic Magician,” the chief operating officer from Dun & Bradstreet spends about 60 seconds boiling down the key challenges of technology and business executives. Essentially he talks about striking a balance between ‘liberating’ information and securing it:

Hopefully CIOs don’t require actual magical powers to be successful, but it’s Peirez’s parting shot that takes the concept even further. “I’m reminded of Harry Houdini’s famous quote that failure means death by drowning,” he says, “and CIOs need to make sure they learn to swim safely to shore and master their data.”

Um, not to nit-pick, but in Houdini’s case this was not at all meant as some kind of metaphor for strategy. The man actually locked himself in a container filled with water. There’s IT management risks, and then there’s the risk of not being able to slip out of your handcuffs while hanging upside down. Swimming to shore would have been a relative luxury.

To some extent, I suppose CIOs and magicians do share at least one common trait: to challenge what an audience considers impossible. In the CIO’s case, however, it’s about taking risks that look worthy but not necessarily dangerous, and producing real results — rather than an illusion.