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CIOs must manage the risk of the status quo

One of a CIO’s greatest risks is not moving fast enough, says columnist Adam Hartung
CIOs must manage the risk of the status quo

Uptime, response time, mean time between failures - the history of IT is full of metrics improved by reducing risk, making sure nothing interferes with operations and productivity.

But times have changed. Today one of the greatest risks is maintaining the status quo - being wedded to dated (or nearly obsolete) IT solutions as competitors move to cheaper, faster and better platforms that are easier to use and produce happier customers and business partners.

The best way to manage the risk of being stuck in the status quo is to do scenario planning. Rather than planning toward a better future starting from what you have and what you know, start by taking your mind all the way out to 2018 and asking "What could the world look like?" and then plan backward to today. Forget about the status quo as you look through the windshield to see what likely lies ahead.

Nobody wants to be caught behaving, or even looking, out of date. Yet it's easy to fall behind. Look at how fast BlackBerrys lost market share. Remember a decade ago when Unix servers and workstations were common, only to be almost entirely replaced by Windows servers and faster PCs as Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics faltered in just five years?

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