Sheleen Quish is one of few executives who’s actually led operations, marketing, technology and HR organizations—not just taken a rotation through one or all. And she has some strong opinions on the current (and future) state of the CIO role, particularly with the rise of Chief Digital Officers, and what value they truly bring to the C-suite.

Guest blog by Dennis Hodges, CIO at Inteva Products.

Start an ERP implementation. Complete fourteen sites in twelve months. Spend one year understanding what you implemented. Buy another company. Spend four years implementing at twenty-five new sites. Then revisit all the sites for optimization and leverage. Ever had one of those decades?

Interview with Joe Eng, CIO of TravelClick, a software and technology provider to the travel and hospitality industry.

You’ve been the CIO at SWIFT, a banking software company, you were CIO at JetBlue, an airline, and now you are back at a technology firm, TravelClick, which is owned by a private equity firm. Those sound like three distinctly different environments.

I think there's a difference between being a CIO for a company where technology is the business, and being CIO at a company for whom technology is not its business, but a very important part of it – more of an enabler.

Guest blog by Joe Topinka, CIO, Red Wing Shoe Co.

Part Two: Partner like a Business Unit

In Part One of our two-part series, we talked about the digital heat wave driving the need for companies and their IT organizations to become hyper-focused on customers and systems of engagement.

IT organizations that adopt an external customer focus see firsthand the moments of truth that shape customer engagement and brand image.

Guest blog by Abbie Lundberg, president of Lundberg Media, a communication services and advisory company. Abbie served as editor-in-chief of CIO magazine for 13 years. Follow her on twitter: @abbielundberg.

Business leaders anticipate dramatic change in all aspects of their operations over the next three years, according to new research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (you can download a copy of the report, Business Transformation and the CIO Role, at the HBR website). Some companies are accelerating this change by committing to IT-enabled business innovation as a core strategy.

To understand just how massive the changes will be, consider this: 70 percent of these “innovation accelerators” (about a third of respondents) expect the ways in which they engage with customers to be transformed in three years, rating it eight or higher on a 10-point change scale.

Guest blog by Joe Topinka, CIO, Red Wing Shoe Co.

A digital heat wave is hitting companies today, making c-suite and IT leaders sweat about their marketplace response. Much is being written about how companies are becoming hyper-focused on customers and systems of engagement.

The premise is simple: Today’s customers have a lot more to say about their satisfaction with a company’s products and services. People depend on social media and on-line ratings and reviews, product Twitter feeds, and company Facebook pages to guide their engagement and buying decisions. The buzz-word title assigned to this is “The Age of the Customer”.

Guest blog by Irving Burday.

Of the many observations in Martha Heller's book, The CIO Paradox, some of the more resonant ones for CIOs and their teams are stakeholder paradoxes and the challenges they present when trying to balance perceptions and expectations against the complexities and realities of running an IT organization.

To some leaders, these paradoxes are calls-to-action to examine stakeholder relationships and create new constructs that reposition IT as a more fully integrated and trusted partner. But to others, they’re more like unalterable truisms that persist despite best efforts to educate, illustrate and demonstrate (via a host of interactions) the constraints and challenges within the technology environment. Given the number of relationships that have to be managed within and outside the organization, it’s likely that CIOs experience both types (and variations thereof) over the course of time.

Last week, we continued our tradition of peer knowledge sharing and asked Heller Report readers to recommend leadership development and executive education programs they had had positive experiences with, and would recommend to fellow IT leaders.

Once again, you did not disappoint. We received a huge wave of responses. As promised, here is the list we have compiled of your recommendations for leadership development! Didn't get your recommendation to us in time? Then add it here using the Comments section.

Guest blog by Peter Waterhouse, Senior Technical Marketing Strategist at CA Technologies and co-author of the book Service Management Process Maps: Your Route to Service Excellence.

For the first time this year I had to think carefully before deciding a number of April fool’s day technology announcements were actually hoaxes. Some like an Internet Service Provider’s “cats as roaming wireless access points” was easy to dismiss, but oddly plausible – hey, why the heck not? If we can hook up a toaster to the Internet, then why not have an Internet of felines?

DILBERT © 1994 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Guest blog by Shawn Johnson

*CAUTION: Buzzwords are not only used in the title but throughout this blog.

An executive, a manager and a staff member walk into a meeting…  No, it’s not one of those jokes, but easily could become one. I was sitting in a meeting the other day, not unlike a thousand meetings that I have attended in the past. I’m sure you know the kind of meeting I’m talking about: a meeting with your staff, your peers, your leadership team, a partner or a vendor. But honestly, the attendance at the meeting isn’t what got me thinking.