I was recently at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research for a few of their summer briefings.
Stories by Chris Curran
Most of the CEOs I know can handle bad news. But I don't know any that like surprises. The CIO who can help the boss more accurately predict the future and manage profitability across economic cycles can be indispensable.
Most CIOs I know have their hearts and minds in the right place. They recognise that they need to be accountable for more than a well-run IT shop. They also aspire to help the company use information to drive innovation and strategic advantage that fulfills the CEO's vision. Here are five issues that CIOs can discuss to capture the CEO's attention and raise the level of discourse to a more strategic level.
Most of the CIOs I speak with are looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to drive innovation within their organisations, usually by automating back office activities. That's a good place to start. But the most aggressive are looking beyond running the IT shop more efficiently and effectively; they're also experimenting with new technologies that can increase profitability, improve competitiveness and attract new customers. We call them ambidextrous innovators.
Here are five areas for experimentation that seem to have value potential for both the back and the front office.
A company's CEO and CIO can at times make a fairly odd couple. Differing agendas create significant challenges from the outset. At the same time, we all understand it is critical for the CIO to engage the CEO and senior business leaders in discussions of IT investments. Considering those somewhat contradictory points, what exactly is the state of the union between business and IT leaders?
A few years ago, Diamond Management & Technology Consultants launched a broad annual study of various business leaders' "Digital IQ." Through the Diamond Digital IQ research, we seek insights into the challenges companies face associated with connecting the enterprise's strategic objectives with the actual business value--which is often reached several years after the big ideas are hatched.
Since we're nearing the end of the 2010 planning cycle, it's as good a time as any to review how we plan projects and whether our processes are as effective as they could be. IT planning never truly ends and tends to eat up more time than we think. As a result, CIOs and their teams have an opportunity to lead the charge to get leaner in planning.
Cloud service providers can make compelling and simple sales pitches in terms of cost of individual services-$100 per user per year sounds pretty good. But "hidden" expenses can alter a company's outlook. Costs related to people, processes, and architecture associated with both the transition and the operations require analysis and planning before signing up for a business case based on a move to the cloud. CIOs and other IT professionals are already well acquainted with such expenses, but the challenge will lie in uncovering them in the relatively unfamiliar cloud model and determining accountability for each.
Experienced CIOs have learned the hard way that achieving tangible benefits early in the technology lifecycle is no easy matter--whether its OO, CMMI, ITIL or SOA. Cloud computing shows promise and demands attention, but the related hoopla needs to be tempered with a good dose of business sense. The cloud, regardless of its variety, should never be considered an all-or-nothing proposition.
I appreciate all the insightful feedback from my last article, 'The three types of CIOs'.
Many of the comments distinguished between CIOs who excel in one area -- some of whom move on to new jobs once they have to stray from their comfort zones -- and CIOs who can successfully bridge the gaps and become effective jacks of all trades. But let's add a twist: what if the incoming CIO of a Fortune 500 company has no prior IT experience?
I'm often asked what the CIO's role should be in keeping projects out of trouble. This is an especially challenging task in large organisations where the CIO must contend with multiple layers of management. CIOs want to talk about projects and programs and PMOs and dashboards and measurements, but the most productive time is often spent talking about the CIO's role in making an IT department successful.
Should the CIO's job be to influence desired outcomes, or should the CIO personally take control of major initiatives? Part of the answer to that question often lies in determining the type of CIO a given company employs. For the sake of argument - and this certainly is not a scientific assessment - let's say there are three types of CIOs: strategic, transformational, and operational. Each has unique characteristics, traits that give way to specific questions. Will the CIO's style mesh with a particular project? Does his or her experience fit the organisation's size and structure?