How to Become a Rainmaker is one of my all time favorite books which offers a very useful blueprint for becoming a CIO rainmaker. This post is not a book review of How to Become a Rainmaker. It is about how CIO’s can retool their thinking to that of a CIO Rainmaker in order to raise their value contribution and set themselves apart from their peers. For those willing to embrace becoming a CIO Rainmaker, it may even be the first step on a path to better income and professional achievement.

What is a Rainmaker

Rainmakers are the one or two people in an organization that are responsible for generating the most revenue and bringing in the most new customers. Simply put, the rainmaker is the person who makes the cash register ring.

Most rainmakers are the top sales person, CEO, fund-raiser, recruiter, owner, or partner and they can be found everywhere in the for-profit and non-profit world.

Fox, author of How to Become a Rainmaker, also identifies another type of rainmaker.  They are the people responsible for finding, attracting and keeping customers. These are the key support people that have ongoing contact with customers or  perform the vital role of inside sales.

The CIO Rainmaker

The obvious path to becoming a CIO Rainmaker is to directly ring the cash register. This of course is a common dream of many CIO’s in every industry to actually generate revenue from IT services.

However, simply generating revenues from IT services doesn’t necessarily make you a CIO Rainmaker  if you are simply acting as a product manager or production manager. To be a CIO Rainmaker also means developing the products and markets and bringing in the customers.

The less obvious path to becoming a CIO Rainmaker is through the support role of identifying prospective customers, converting them, and growing the relationship with them over time. It also means supporting the development of new products and supporting the business strategy in response to market forces.

The CIO Rainmaker acting in the support role is an active, proactive contributor to the growth of revenue, opening new markets, bringing in new customers and retaining existing customers.

CIO Rainmakers in Higher Ed

The most troubling findings in the Four Questions on CIO’s research of the EDUCAUSE CIO Listserv are:

  • The role of the CIO in higher education is overwhelmingly that of a Department Head with 92% of the CIO Listserv posts having a tactical focus and where 96% of the posts are focused on the routine operational issues of running the organization.
  • 42% of issues that CIO’s are working on are technology issues in Software and infrastructure (Network and Hardware) with only 13% of CIO’s attention going toward Business and IT Strategy issues which are all on the low end of the IT value proposition.

That means higher Ed CIO’s are not ringing the cash register by growing revenues from enrollment, research funding, grants, fund-raising, giving, or state apportionment. It also means higher Ed CIO’s are working on identifying new students or research sponsors, improving conversion rates, opening up new markets, or retaining existing customers.

Those are only a fraction of the opportunities for CIO’s where the pathways can also be through the business plan, social media plan, marketing plan or the CRM or recruitment application choices.

Don’t forget opportunities to generate revenue from IT services to outside agencies, other institutions, affiliates and so on. Just be careful to avoid being fooled by the traps of chargebacks. Similarly, be sure your business plan for IT services isn’t being priced for cost recovery.

The pathway to being a CIO Rainmaker also includes the LMS as a tool for growing enrollment, new product offerings, improving persistence and retention, and graduation which in turn impact formula funding in many state revenue models.

How to Become a Rainmaker

Just to close this out I wanted to be sure and be clear on my recommendation for How to Become a Rainmaker by Jeffrey Fox. It is a small book (roughly 4×7 inches) and only 192 pages with absolutely no BS.

I think most CIO’s will find a high degree of applicability even if they are not pursuing status as a CIO Rainmaker.