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7 Biggest Mistakes CIOs Make in Critical Situations

Chief Information Officers (CIO) have one of the most important roles in any organization – they’re the most senior technology executive and help set and lead the technology strategy for their company.

IT leaders challenges


The CIO has an increasingly important role to play in helping to protect his or her company from the growing threat of cybercrime which can inflict significant operational, financial, reputation and legal damage on an organization. Ultimately, they are the executive who has to carry the can in the event of a data breach.

There are times when things don’t go smoothly for the CIO and unfortunately some of those times are during a critical incident that is affecting the company. These mistakes can be costly and even result in the end of the CIO’s career.

1. Not communicating effectively

When a critical incident takes place, communication is important. Employees rely on systems being active to be able to deliver core business to clients and when systems are disrupted, it can cost the organization dearly.

Not being clear in communication, not being timely in communication and not providing regular updates during a crisis can create panic, misinformation and waste time and resources.

2. Failure to invest in software or hardware

When your business is operating with sub-par equipment and software that is obsolete it can be hard to maintain a competitive edge.

Outdated systems can also be a recipe for disaster in that old hardware has higher failure rates and outdated software can be exploited by hackers and criminals. These weaknesses can bring an organization to its knees.

3. Taking on too much

CIOs need to be realistic about what their teams are able to accomplish. When they agree to too many projects, they run the risk of spreading the department too thin, meaning that some systems may be neglected or recovery during a disaster will take too long because of lack of resources and competing priorities.

4. Failure to learn from the mistake

Many customers say they are reluctant to do businesses with companies that have been at the center of a data breach. This means that there will ongoing reputational damage and loss of revenue as a result. For those customers remaining who have not jumped ship, they need to be assured that the same issues won’t happen again. You might be lucky enough to get a second chance, but third chances are unlikely.

5. Being out of touch and hard to reach

When a critical incident happens the CIO needs to be flexible enough to cancel everything else they are doing and respond. Being unavailable in meetings and missing offsite can lead to disaster.

6. Failing to ensure proper staff training and education

Proper policies and procedures and training plans should be in place that apply to every single employee around cyber security. Failing to ensure that this happens can lead to systems becoming vulnerable and data loss.

7. Killing critical business functionality

The CIO is tasked with protecting systems from being disrupted from outside threats… but what if those disruptions come from within? When critical business functions are derailed as a result of new systems or security measures brought in at the behest of the CIO, it can be an extremely costly mistake for both the business and the CIO.

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