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Stories by Linda Price

The serial innovators

During a recent tour of Sydney, Mumbai, Seoul and Beijing, I was fascinated to note that a consistent theme that came up in discussion with CIOs was innovation.
In each of these very different cities, across a range of commercial or government-owned enterprises, in a wide variety of segments, innovation was of major interest - whether innovation for its application in the continuing theme of “doing more with less”, or whether as a lever to demonstrate the value of IT, or as a platform for reuse of data, systems and processes to achieve efficiency and lower time to market, it was obvious that many Asia Pacific CIOs retain a laser focus on innovation.

Written by Linda Price31 Aug. 11 22:00

Lead with value, not technology

It's rare these days to meet an IT professional who doesn't know what matters most to their organisation. They are generally knowledgeable about its value proposition, relationships with customers and what differentiates it from competitors. But when IT professionals from the CIO down talk to their colleagues, often they lead the conversation with technology – that's a problem for everyone involved.
The idea that leading the conversation with technology might be a problem will undoubtedly strike many such professionals as counterintuitive. After all, isn't technology their business? Aren't they expected to know technology and what it can do, as well as help everyone in the business use technology to its maximum effect? Isn't technology exactly what everyone else in the business expects them to talk about?

Written by Linda Price31 July 11 22:00

Five tips on presenting to the Board

One of my favourite anecdotes concerns a long-time Gartner Executive Program member who was delighted to be invited to join the Board of a well-known not-for-profit organisation. Our member noted with some glee that his first Board meeting included a presentation by the CIO on a proposal to acquire a new ERP system. Eager to make a meaningful contribution, and quite convinced this was an obvious opportunity to prove his worth and showcase his talents, our hero was bemused to find that most of the CIO’s presentation was totally cryptic to him and he actually understood only a limited amount of the information provided. Our member uncomfortably reflected that he had probably been just as cryptic and unintelligible in many of the presentation he had provided to various Boards over his long career.
There is no reason for a Board member, even a brand new one, to be flummoxed by a presentation about IT. CIOs need to remember that every interaction with the Board is an opportunity for CIOs to demonstrate that they are business leaders – or reveal that they are not. As Board interest in IT increases, CIOs must hone their ability to interact with this important body. Few directors have significant IT experience, so the CIO must make IT relevant to them. Interestingly, a growing number of CIOs are expressing curiosity and concern about their engagement with Board members.

Written by Linda Price30 June 11 22:00

Conversations with your CEO

You meet your CEO in the foyer and he invites you for lunch. exchange pleasantries and then the CEO notes the time of day and invites you to join him or her for lunch. Consider what you will talk to the CEO about over lunch. You have no time to prepare.
This is the very reason you should always be ready for such a conversation - to leave the CEO secure in the knowledge that, in the CIO, he or she has a senior executive who is conversant with the business from a business perspective.

Written by Linda Price31 May 11 22:00

An action plan for CIOs

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:

Written by Linda Price30 March 11 23:00

Is it essential for the CIO to report to the CEO?

Is it essential for the CIO to report to the CEO?
The reporting relationship of CIOs is frequently an area of curiosity and sometimes concern for Gartner Executive Programme members. It is also a question that Gartner asked of more than 2000 CIOs worldwide in our latest annual CIO survey, which tracks how CIOs balance their business, strategic, technical and management priorities. The survey report aggregates the responses from CIOs in 50 countries across 38 industries, representing more than US$160 billion in corporate and public sector IT spending. I’ll go into more detail about the findings of this year’s survey in a later column.

Written by Linda Price28 Feb. 11 22:00

Think like your CEO

Chief information officers are wise to keep an interest in what is on the mind of their chief executive and, in particular, in any issues that may be keeping them up at night. Even though our country has escaped the economic stresses experienced in many parts of the world, CEOs, especially those in global organisations, are still buffeted by mixed signals and concerned about business conditions.
Several key CEO concerns have particular relevance to CIOs. Providing IT support to business operations in emerging markets is growing more important. This is because businesses directly and indirectly dependent on consumer growth are likely to push harder into emerging markets. CEOs will do a lot to go after new markets — scaling up operations in those regions and sometimes entering new countries by acquisition or distribution. Understanding where you and your suppliers could deploy IT if asked will be important.

Written by Linda Price02 Feb. 11 22:00

Business transformers

In an environment where 70 percent of CEOs believe that business change and entrepreneurialism will increase in the next five years, CIOs need to do more to ensure that IT plays a positive role in business transformation in 2011 and beyond.
When organisations have to navigate change, the IT organisation is usually in the middle of it in some way, either as an enabler or a constraint. CIOs rarely have a leadership position in business transformation of this scale and they need to prepare more vigorously to ensure IT does its job to advance the organisation to the new state.

Written by Linda Price04 Dec. 10 22:00

Build your case

Some simple experiences teach us a great deal. Very early in my career I learnt a valuable lesson regarding business benefits. At the time I worked for a CEO to whom I proudly – and with great fanfare - presented a business case for a new system investment.
Many of the financial benefits from this investment pertained to using technology to streamline customer service processes and thereby eliminate a number of employee positions in the customer service organisation. At the end of the presentation the CEO looked me in the eye and asked me for the names of the employees that the business case proposed be redeployed or who would exit the enterprise.

Written by Linda Price01 Aug. 10 22:00

Communication breakdown

How many times do we hear that the root cause of a particular misunderstanding or process failure is poor communication? This observation applies equally to something as supposedly simple as a failure to communicate effectively within a department, to a more substantial failing of poor communication between an ­enterprise and its customers.
You may recall the recent criticism of Westpac when it sent its customers a video email comparing the rise in its interest rates to buying banana smoothies. That comparison drew criticism from consumer groups, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and even Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Written by Linda Price13 June 10 22:00

Social currency

I had an interesting realisation when reviewing the results of Gartner’s 2010 CIO Survey for Australia and New Zealand recently. I was preparing for a breakfast speaking engagement focusing on social networking and collaboration.
Both global CIOs and ANZ CIOs ranked Web 2.0 similarly in terms of technology priorities for 2010 – number three and number four respectively. However, when it came to the CIOs’ view of how the business ranked “working collaboratively both internally and externally (with customers, suppliers, partners and so on) over the coming year”, results varied significantly. Global CIOs ranked this third in their top ten. This result accorded well with their ranking of Web 2.0 as a technology priority. However, ANZ CIOs ranked this business priority eighth – significantly lower than Web 2.0 as a technology priority.

Written by Linda Price31 May 10 22:00

Great (CEO) expectations

At the Gartner Symposium IT/xpo late last year, we hosted a session for CIOs entitled “Identifying CEO Expectations and Executing Against Them”. The ensuing discussion over lunch was lively and at times passionate. CIOs occupy a unique position at the executive table – one of particular complexity based on the volume of strategic relationships that must be nurtured and the sheer number of stakeholders that must be satisfied. To navigate this network of competing demands, the CIO seeks a strong supporter and ally in the CEO.
Paradoxically though, Gartner research reveals that a positive relationship of trust and credibility with the CEO is achieved by delivering against the immediate business unit leaders’ needs. The key message from our research into CEO and CIO relationships is that CIOs must earn the support of the business unit leaders, to gain the direct relationship with the CEO that they seek.

Written by Linda Price04 April 10 22:00

Prepare for the talent storm

In November 2009, when tentative signs of a recovery in the global economy began to appear, and local economists decided that Australia had successfully avoided a recession, the Australian Financial Review published an article entitled “Bosses beware, a talent storm is brewing”.
The article discussed the impact the recovery would have on the employment market. Many talented employees who felt aggrieved by treatment received during the economic downturn were starting to consider their options. The article quoted a mid-2009 Chandler McLeod survey that 70 percent of about 6000 respondents reported intending to leave their current employer within 12 months.

Written by Linda Price27 Feb. 10 22:00

Make a positive impact

If you make only one New Year’s resolution, make it to adopt a decision making style that will lead to quality organisational outcomes, build your political capital and enhance your personal reputation. In my last column, I discussed a recent Gartner Executive Programs research publication about making and surviving difficult CIO decisions, written by vice president and research director Tina Nunno. She identified the following four types of decision-making challenges:
• Decision roles and ownership;

Written by Linda Price31 Jan. 10 22:00

After the gold rush

At the end of 2008 a friend of mine joined an iconic, top-end-of-town organisation. The organisation was being lauded in the press for meeting the severe economic challenges associated with the early days of the global financial crisis (GFC) by restructuring its many departments and cutting a large number of staff. Only key positions were being recruited to – and my friend accepted one of these.
What she found when she entered this organisation was that a restructure had indeed been swiftly implemented, with staff numbers significantly reduced. However, the work agenda had not been commensurately reduced and the ways work was performed had not been redesigned. The remaining staff worked absurdly long hours and morale was low. Many employees were hunkering down waiting for the economic crisis to abate and job opportunities in the wider market to emerge.

Written by Linda Price31 Oct. 09 22:00