Insights and opinions on Information Technology from George Tomko, a veteran CIO turned renegade consultant.


Take your Vacation-The Future will still be there when you get back!

I cannot believe it. Tomorrow morning, I am back to the ‘real’ world. You see, I have just returned from 16 days of vacation. I did not do a thing related to work, other than tweet some from my mobile. In effect, I put my brain in a jar and let it cool down. There is so much to occupy its time that burn-out or, in my case, flame-out, is a very real possibility.

As I began packing for this week’s business travel, I thought back to an article that I wrote in CIO magazine ‘way’ back in 2002 (available here). It had several themes, but the primary reason for writing it was that I actually accomplished a three-week vacation and felt that the world needed to know about it. By this time, I was less than 4 years as a CIO. However, in that time, I had been through enough global system and infrastructure deployments to fill several careers.

But, that was becoming something I could do in my sleep. 2002 was a time of the coming of age of the business savvy CIO. It was the only way that a CIO would be able to survive-at least those who considered themselves “strategic”. At that time, the average tenure of a CIO was something like 18 months and that wasn’t good for anybody.

At the end of the day, the true revelation about actually taking a three week vacation was more about the fact that I could let go of the techie stuff. I had built a high potential group of managers that were running things just fine. When I got back from that vacation, I was all fired up about diving into the business issues and strategic imperatives.

So, here I am, on fire and ready to go. Refreshed and ready to drive. As Yogi is often quoted, “It’s deja vu all over again”. Maybe. Things have a way of cycling back through. Take “Cloud Computing”… No, make that Software as a Service. Oh, wait, too long, SaaS. I love the attention to the lower case ‘a’s. Hype, hype and more hype.

It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about ASPs and I was an early adopter. Then, it was “Network Computing” where all of our apps and even the computing power itself would come from the network a.k.a “the Cloud”.

My advice – take a 2 or 3 week vacation and, when you come back, see if it is still being talked about, written about, hyped, etc.

Better yet, at your next CIO conference, set-up a birds of a feather table and invite everyone who has a significant working implementation that is not some hybrid kluge. Have them show you how they mashed their legacy data into the provider’s database and got their user community trained and on board. Have them show you their SLAs and the performance against them. Then, have them show you how much cost they were able to take out of their operations. Finally, have them show you how they supercharged their businesses to achieve new heights and raised the bar versus the competition.

You will be sitting alone.

Folks, we can’t feel good yet about turning e-mail over to providers let alone order processing. There are successes out their like But, show me full process integration. You know, kinda like that SOA stuff that was so hot 2 years ago.

The bottom line is that all businesses are different in how they invested in and evolved their computing infrastructure, data, processes, financial analysis and reporting, etc., etc. New organizations, start-ups, spin offs and the like have a better shot at the “clean sheet of paper” and that is what it will take.

So, take a vacation, a long one. Come back and see if things are any clearer than when you left. Stay off the crack berry, leave e-mail and voice mail alone. Reintroduce yourself to an ocean breeze and the people that have the same residential mailing address as you (your significant peeps).

Upon your return, it will all still be there but you will be in a different ‘place’.