The Irreplaceable CIO?


Shares in Apple tanked after Steve Jobs announced a surprise leave of absence due to health reasons.

Few executives are as closely identified with their companies as Jobs is with Apple, which he founded and then led to new heights after returning from exile.

But Apple's reliance on one man made me think about succession planning for CIOs. The more important the CIO role is at a company, the more important to have some ideas for continuity in the event that the top IT exec is taken out of commission for whatever reason.

Yet not even 40 percent of businesses have a formal CIO succession plan in place, reported our Brian Watson last summer. The number was higher -- over 60 percent -- at large companies. But even that figure means a lot of companies aren't prepared for an orderly transition, much less a sudden change.

And sudden changes do happen -- as the Jobs situation (like other unpredictable scenarios) makes clear.