The dust has settled on the Midsize Enterprise Summit in Indianapolis, where several hundred CIOs and senior IT leaders gathered to discuss their biggest challenges and the opportunities ahead. For those with midmarket blood coursing through their veins, several themes emerged from the event that will be critical to their future success. Some have been in play for the past couple of years, while others are just coming to the fore.

Let’s review some of those takeaways, which will be further examined in future blogs. The first and most obvious one is the continuing strength of peer networking and validation in the midmarket. A lot of people in the industry do not realize just how important this peer-to-peer component is. CIOs and senior IT leaders tell us they will not make purchasing decisions or pick partners unless another IT leader they know and trust can endorse that move. It is really that simple. That is why vendors or solution providers looking to grow their midmarket business must have strong case studies that are relevant to these buyers.

It is amazing how fast this trend appeared on the scene and how much it has grown in importance. The reasons for this are obvious. Midmarket companies cannot afford to make mistakes with their limited resources. If they are tripped up by a tech solution, it could have a significant impact on the future of the overall business—not to mention the IT leader’s job. So there is no sign this trend will end any time soon, and it is indeed opening up lucrative opportunities. There are a number of companies including Gartner that are making significant investments in online forums that bring CIOs together so they can compare notes and evaluate solutions from trusted IT leaders.

Another interesting trend we are seeing is the counsel midmarket CIOs want from their enterprise counterparts. IT leaders in the midmarket want to hear the wisdom from those who have led enterprise IT organizations, but they immediately get turned off if they hear about big budgets, internal politics and vast resources. What strikes the right note is when those executives can offer insight into how to be better leaders and share tips on how technology can drive the business forward. A perfect example of this is Jim Noble, founder of The Advisory Council and a longtime Fortune 500 CIO. Noble is one of MES’ most popular and highly rated speakers, and his secret is that he helps the midmarket contingent become business-savvy CIOs and understand how to stretch their resources. What every midmarket CIO wants to know is this: how to spend the majority of their budget on IT innovation versus running the business. It sounds easy, but making that transition is extremely difficult.

The other major takeaway from the Midsize Enterprise Summit is that the midmarket CIO is here to stay. Despite all sorts of reports on the demise of the CIO, these leaders are adapting and thriving. They understand the importance of being business leaders versus techie geeks and are moving in that direction. Sure, there is plenty of evidence to support the fact that top marketing executives are making more IT decisions and that chief data officers are emerging—but the midmarket CIO is alive and well. In fact, they are flocking to sessions and training at our conferences to help them become better business leaders. Those IT leaders who are not adapting and changing are seeking other career paths or leaving the industry.

In the next review of trends that emerged from MES, look for my blog that discusses the coming millennial leader, what the midmarket CIO will look like in 2030, and how budget cycles are changing.

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts by emailing me at