CIO agenda for 2008
You would think that green issues would be top of the CIO’s agenda in 2008 considering the predictions that many are making. However, Alan Cane from the FT found that in his recent straw poll, this issue came 11th. This view is not in isolation, as the clairvoyants from analyst firms and the media have all recently set out to understand what the CIO will be focusing on over the next year. Through this blog post, I have tried to isolate where there is common ground and where I believe the discrepancies hold weight.
- Reducing and controlling IT costs
The market outlook for IT procurement is cautious predicting enterprise technology spending to fall by 1% compared with 2007. This reduction is largely due to a pessimistic economic outlook, including a possible US-led recession, large losses at financial-services companies tied to sub prime loans, falling house prices and other signs of trouble in the economy. The CIO will need to be prepared for this and put measures into place to make their existing IT infrastructure run more effectively.
Security has evolved far beyond intrusion detection and firewalls as CIOs will have to address regulatory and compliance requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley. In addition to this they must also focus on data protection and governance and the “effective integration of information security practices into key business and risk management efforts” making security a strategic business-level issue according to CIO.com.
- Aligning IT with business, growth and innovation
Through the FT, Steve Bozzo, CIO of 1-800-Flowers.com explained the commonly held view that “companies will be most successful if IT is strongly aligned with the business it supports”. Again this view is supported by Gartner who believe CIOs will focus on aligning IT with growth and innovation.
- The evolving role of the CIO - some will become CEO, CSO or COO
Forrester in their recent report predict that the role of the CIO will change. Some of them will “capitalize on their visibility across organizational silos along with their understanding of technology’s potential to grow into the role of business change agent, but most will remain focused on running the business of IT”. John Soat in Information Week takes a more negative approach stating that business unit managers will take more responsibility for the IT projects – a consequence of this he believes will force CIOs to look at their own role within the company.
- The agile CIO
The high pace of IT change has led to greater business expectations. Survival for the CIO, according to Forrester, will be someone who can disperse resources as they acquire capacity and switch focus from efficiency and cost to enabling greater experimentation and iteration of new ways of competing for the firm. Both Gartner and Forrester share this view, believing that through high experimentation, companies can remain competitive. It is expected that 2008 will continue to see frequently changing business needs – the role of the CIO is to ensure that IT is agile enough to support this.
- IT Transformation
Gartner believe that CIOs “must be models of transformation as their businesses capitalise on business processes, relationships, information flows and services. The next three years will be a period of advanced leadership, high experimentation, organizational flexibility and serious talent competition.” Only through this IT transformation will CIOs meet the increasing demands of the business and maximise competitiveness.
- Focus on virtualisation
Cost cutting is an inevitable consequence of a probable/possible recession. Because of this, CIOs will look to IT as a way to provide flexible and cost effective solutions – in this instance virtualisation has reached a maturity level that can deliver benefits within the infrastructure in terms of greater efficiencies of a firms IT assets.
- Impact of social media
Social media has impacted companies in a way that few could have predicted a few years ago. Some CIOs see this as a threat as information has been stored on blogs, wikis and facebook in a way that many people find difficult to access or would prefer not to be there at all. Embracing social media will be a challenge that CIOs will face in 2008 – successful ones will see this as a way to stay competitive.
- Software as a Service
Nicholas Carr believes that 2008 will be SaaS’s breakout year. Cost cutting again seems to be the initial catalyst for this. Information Week comments that “as more business-unit managers look for innovative business and marketing models, SaaS appears to them as a cost-effective means to that end.
- Hiring and retaining high quality employees
Skill gaps and high demand for a scarce IT professionals will continue to be a focus for the CIO. As firms struggle to remain competitive, success may often be driven by the quality of its own personnel.
What I find just as interesting as these ‘top 10′ points is which ones didn’t make the list. These include: customer service, mobility, green IT, CSR and energy. It would be interesting to ask the CIOs in 6 months time to see what tops their agenda and identify if any of these issues become a priority.
Looking ahead the CIO will have one of their most challenging years to-date. As Gartner state, “past practices will have little bearing in the future”. What’s more the CIO will need to manage conflicting priorities from the market and the CEO and align practicalities with vision and IT to remain competitive in 2008.
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