Risky business

As the article “Becoming a risk intelligent CIO” implies, CIOs are becoming more involved in risk mitigation for their organizations. Not only must they ward off all manner of security threats, keep networks running, protect vital information assets, and ensure that the organization can quickly bounce back from fire, flood or plague of locusts, now they are sometimes called upon to be risk advisors to the board and senior management, with a purview that stretches well beyond the IT department.

Unfortunately, with the advent of data-sharing technologies such as Service Oriented Architecture, the coming of Web 2.0, and the proliferation of consumer electronic devices, to name but a few, the amount of risk that organizations are facing is rapidly increasing.

The good news is that CIOs are no strangers to risk – it’s been part of their job since Day One. Any time a new application is launched, a process is reengineered, or a new technology is implemented there’s often substantial risk involved. And CIOs have developed considerable expertise in mitigating those risks.

And there’s an upside to risk for the CIO as well. When dealt with adroitly, it can provide the company a leg up on the competition or even result in the creation of a new product or service – the kind of stuff that earns kudos from senior management. And as key advisors on risk, CIOs are in a position to enhance their C-suite status and perhaps even extend their strategic influence within the enterprise.

Interestingly, risk can be dealt with in much the same manner as a typical IT project – another reason why CIOs are well positioned to be good enterprise advisors on the subject. As our risk intelligence article advises, start by taking small steps, prioritize based on impact, improve information governance… the list goes on. Sound familiar? It should be – it’s the stuff CIOs cut their teeth on.

All this is to say that CIOs should not view their expanded roles around risk as just another item on an already overcrowded task list. The real risk for CIOs is in not seizing the opportunity presented by risk, and making the most of it. There are plenty of others waiting in the wings who will. 071067

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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