An action plan for CIOs

An action plan for CIOs

Identify and remove some dead practices; praise the unusual and hire some oddballs.

Last year was a transition year when organisations tried to make sense of the global financial crisis. It was the year when most businesses returned to making healthy profits, while governments started to accept overspending realities. This year will see more concrete decisions being made about changes needed to structure the post-financial crisis world. Although each organisation is different, the following action plan may serve as a guide for CIOs as they journey through 2011:

Ensure organisational fitness to meet your goals

● Praise the unusual and hire some oddballs

During periods of crisis or uncertainty, it is important to keep people focused on core activities and executing them well. But in the aftermath, organisations must adapt to changes taking place around them. Disrupt the status quo of the organisational culture a little to start making it more dynamic, inquisitive and reforming.

● Start a quiet conversation about business ethics

The financial crisis has already raised major questions about business ethics and a vibrant international conversation continues about appropriate parameters for issues, such as board member bonuses and government regulatory responsibilities. However, ethics are diffused through the culture of companies. What are your business ethics as an IT leader and what are those of the team around you?

● Focus more on information strategy and less on technology strategy

CIOs are very good at assimilating changes brought about by new technology. What about changes achieved through new access to existing information and by new information itself? Promote discussions on what it would take to become an intelligent business.

  • Ensure personal motivation to do your job
  • Review your tenure and strengthen personal career goals

This year will be a year of transition for exploring new opportunities. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, what you want and have to offer will prepare you for your next career move.

Travel to the next three markets your company is likely to depend on for growth before you are told to

During the next few years, most large companies will be depending more on the fast pace of economic growth in emerging economies. Your business will be reaching out to you to help it enter these dynamic and rapidly evolving markets to secure growth.

Get out with sales teams

CIOs need a major change of perspective — get out more. Discover how technology can help drive revenue by learning what salespeople go through to do their jobs? Pair your direct team with senior sales or marketing people and find out how IT can provide solutions to help.

Avoid some bad habits

● Identify and remove some dead practices

The opposite of a best practice is not a worst practice — it’s a dead practice. For example, becoming a service-centric IT department was better than being an unhelpful bottleneck. But today, the practices that helped win that battle may cause people to view IT as a routine and non-strategic function, rather than a proactive agent for business change.

● Stop deploying employee technology that needs to be managed

At every replacement and upgrade decision, assert preferences that will demand less management and intervention. Streaming technologies, application stores and self-service portals are examples of approaches that will help turn current ‘push’ management into ‘pull’ processes and eliminate inertia.

● Stop fighting consumerisation

Users will be bringing technologies into the workplace whether you want them to or not. Rather than ignore this, recognise it and put in place mechanisms to provide guidance and governance. Direct IT to look for ways to empower users and protect the enterprise at the same time.

Hands-on with leading technologies

We suggest technologies annually that CIOs should see and experience themselves. It is too easy to lose touch — and see the landscape through the perspectives of others around you. Don’t be caught off-guard by another executive who knows a technology they think the organisation should adopt and presumes you already know. Using new technology is a powerful way to catalyse new ideas and refresh your thinking!

Linda Price is group vice-president, executive programmes, Gartner. Email comments to

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