FOMO: A CIO’s guide to the ‘Fear of Missing Out’

Perhaps one of the most valuable skillsets for a 21st century CIO is the ability to manage an enterprise-wide fear of missing out (FOMO). As many of us know, despite the recent trendy acronym, FOMO has been around for a while and manifests in IT as anxiety over missing out on a new technology.

How many times have we gotten that sick feeling at conferences when listening to panelists or audience members discuss the challenges they’re having with Hadoop in their predictive behavior deployment.

“Hadoop??” “Predictive behavior??” you might think. “Yikes, we’re still trying to find where all the data is hidden across the enterprise so that we can launch an old-fashioned relational database!”

If as a CIO you’re experiencing technological FOMO, you can bet your CMO, CFO and other leaders are feeling the same. They’re probably all sending emails and texts from their conferences: “Just saw some new marketing cloud thing that looked incredibly cool. Can you have your tech guys check this out?”

A healthy corporate fear of getting caught in the undertow of a hype curve is not a bad thing, and it can easily be managed. The natural enemy of technology FOMO is a CIO who consistently takes a proactive approach to identifying and testing technology innovation.

I presented one strategy for doing this in my recent piece on technology petting zoos. But there are other ways that require less effort and have the same impact:

  • Create a section on your enterprise communication system for users to make suggestions for innovative technologies they’d like IT to explore. This not only serves as a means of identifying innovation, but also in identifying employees who may have tested these technology platforms or apps.
  • Publicize new technologies that IT has identified for possible use and that are currently being vetted based on security factors and ability to integrate into the current architecture.
  • Be wary of dashboard purchasing. My personal experience is that dashboards are one of the biggest contributors to FOMO. Just like impulse buys at the grocery checkout lane, vendors know that eye candy will entice even luddites to demand user-friendly technology platforms. Unfortunately just because data is presented on a dashboard doesn’t mean it’s a data analytics or data science solution.
  • Produce blog content reviewing the pros and cons of hyped technologies. Be sure to avoid the “slow and no” tone that many expect. Ideally include experiences (good or bad) from users within the company.
  • Establish a FOMO user test panel that represents a number of businesses and ability levels for broad-based platforms. Having the thumbs up or down come from the periphery rather than from the center relieves the perception of IT blocking changes.

By taking steps to open discussion on new technologies, to review and consider their use, you can cut down on the FOMO experience so many CIOs dread.


Future-proofing with technology petting zoos

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