High CIO and CISO turnover: What it means for IT sales

10th Feb 2015

CIO and CISO turnover is high – I think we all know that. If you’re in sales, you love that fact. If you’re in sales and you’re wondering why I’d say you love that, this infographic will give you an indication.

Simply put: as a sales rep, you should be building good relationships with CIOs and CISOs. Help them be successful both quickly (when they first take over) and long-term (for as long as they are there) and they will buy from you again when they move to their next company.

On the flip-side, if you have a CIO or CISO who is blocking you at a company – don’t worry, they’ll be gone soon. Play the long game and be there ready to help the next guy succeed. Keeping abreast of these executive moves using your sales intelligence solutions trigger feed will ensure that you are among the first to know about moves.

A CIO’s tenure is somewhere between four and five years depending on who you’re asking – Gartner or The Society for Information Management.

It’s even worse for the CISO. According to Gartner, the average tenure of a CISO is four years; according to the Ponemon Institute, it is 2.1 years. Get breached: get fired. The Wall Street Journal recently did an interesting piece on how people who take the CISO role know they’ll be gone in two years.

Similar to a sales VP missing his number for two quarters in a row – CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE AVAILABLE TO INDUSTRY NOW. Just this week, Anthem, the second-largest health insurance company in the US, announced that they have had a security breach compromising eighty million customers. Companies have shown repeatedly that one of the measures they take in reacting to security issues is changing the guard. 

We dug into the different industry changes around CIO and CISO moves in 2014.

Let’s start with CIOs across industries:

Telecom and the Federal Government had the highest turnover ratio for CIOs at 29.1% and 28.8% respectively – almost 3 in 10 CIOs in the Federal Government or within the telecom industry left. On the other end of the spectrum banking, legal services and oil & gas had less than half the turnover of Federal and telecom – coming in at 14.7% and 14.9%, respectively.

Some notable moves here included the replacement of the CIO for the Department of Commerce (Simony Szykman replaced by Steve Cooper), the Air Force’s Michael Basla retired with William Bender taking over, and the SEC’s Thomas Bayer stepping down with Pamela Dyson serving as acting director. As can be imagined, these guys make significantly more in the private sector than what they were collecting working for the government – for example Szykman is now chief technology officer for Federal Services for Attain, an IT contractor for the Federal Government.

In the telecom space, notable moves included Mike Marcotte stepping down as CIO of Echostar, and Rama Prasad left Gogo Air to become CTO of Copart an automobile sales company in Dallas.

In the CISO space the turnover looks a bit different. Although Federal has the highest turnover, 4 of the top 5 Industries with the most CISO turnover are in financial services – health insurance, banking, insurance, and financial services. Financial services in general tend to cannibalise itself so the numbers may be slightly misleading – for example a CISO for a bank or a health insurance firm will almost ALWAYS come from ANOTHER bank or insurance / financial services firm –so we see double and triple turnover as executives play musical chairs. Here are a few examples:

Adam Fletcher VP of international security left Equifax and two months later was named vice president of information security for the Blackstone Group.

Chad Renfro the CISO at Bank of America left to become the CISO at Fidelity Investments.

Executive moves create selling opportunities. A recent DiscoverOrg study indicated that 25% of IT-industry CIOs spent over $1 million in their first year; 71% of those spent that much in the first three months of their tenure. CIOs and CISOs are brought in to make changes – when the new guard arrives, money will be spent. Being alert to executive moves, new initiatives and projects at your target and customer companies can be easily managed from within your CRM system using integrations from your data intelligence solution. Don’t let these selling opportunities go un-noticed.

Henry Schuck is CEO and co-founder at DiscoverOrg.

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