CIOs join reality TV genre

Think talk shows and the likes of Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake and Oprah spring to mind. This is accompanied by images of bad accents, bad relationships and downright bad manners. But take a great leap forward and try to imagine applying reality TV concepts to the world of IT.

An event where a talk show format is used to facilitate an environment where IT leaders can get down to the nitty gritty, where discussion is encouraged and an open floor means everyone can participate.

Now that's what I call an event! It makes the everyday IT conference seem almost stodgy.

But that's exactly what came to town last week when our sister publication CIO magazine hosted CIO Dialogues 2006.

An open format made for a refreshing change; it was my first ever interactive conference.

The 400 or so CIOs in attendance were even armed with Green (yes) and Red (no) paddles to wave in the air to signal whether they were for or against any given topic. I call them paddles but one bright participant called them ATCs (airport tarmac controllers). It just wouldn't be IT without an acronym now would it?

To ensure dialogue wasn't stifled in any way, I have been sworn to secrecy about the content. That is, I cannot report on all of the day's proceedings except to say my conference experience has been changed forever. There's just something about the talk show format that made the discussions lively and incredibly frank.

Talk about honesty; my conference expectations will never be the same. And it wasn't just CIOs on stage, but CEOs talking about CIOs; now there's a new world view. Put simply, this was conferencing Oprah-style without the trashy content.

There was no shortage of reality, honesty and audience participation. Real dialogue, now that's what I call a conference agenda.

How's the dialogue at your organization? Send e-mails to

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