After yesterday’s TweetLevel insanity, the evening brought dose of reality in the form of dinner with a bunch of CIOs. It’s always fun. No, really it is…I enjoy it. They’re senior guys in big companies – financial services, law, consumer goods, leisure – working right at the coalface of technology in industry. You get some great perspectives.

Oh, and by the way, none of them are on Twitter.

Much of the conversation was client-confidential, but there are a few bits I think I’m safe to reveal…

The mention of cloud computing provokes a reaction. And it’s not generally a good one. Not because the CIOs don’t feel that they will be putting stuff in the cloud, but because it’s regarded as another example of cynical technology industry marketing. One CIO said he fined any of his team every time they mentioned the phrase…

In reality, most of the CIOs said that they had been doing what would now be considered cloud computing for a good while, but were they about to entrust masses of sensitive data to someone else’s data centre thousands of miles away? Not likely. Security is cited at the main concern.

We chatted a bit about Windows 7, given the generally positive buzz it seems to be creating since its launch. Interestingly, none of the CIOs present had moved their businesses to Vista, so my assumption was that they’d be moving to 7 fairly soon. Not so…most didn’t feel that they’d jump to 7 until 2011 at the earliest, probably until the inevitable first Service Pack was delivered.

Despite it obviously having a negative impact, a number of the CIOs mentioned the positive changes brought by the recession. The increase in use of collaborative working technology, unified communications and remote working is something that won’t be reversed when the economic picture looks more positive, which has got to be a good thing.

For me though, the most interesting little nugget came from the CIO who said that he can see a day – and it’s not too far away – when people are joining his company and are better equipped technologically than the business. Therefore he believes that the role of his team will be to connect people’s personal and preferred technology into the corporate network. The implications of this are enormous, of course, from a security, payment, platform and network perspective.

Interesting stuff.