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Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

"While the strategic contribution of IT to business is widely acknowledged, particularly in its role in enhancing customer-facing processes, its more traditional contribution to reducing the cost of organisational processes is also seen as important." -- Making Your IT Investment Pay, Report from International Market Assessment (IMA).

Certainly, Dwight King, Telstra's executive director of Customer Process and Information, and the subject of CIO's cover story this month, would agree with the above observation. King, who is responsible for all of Telstra's processes and IT in Australia and overseas, is sitting in the IT hot seat. He is charged with maximising Telstra's IT infrastructure with an eye to delivering competitive advantages in a sector that is increasingly customer-focused, and he must do it within a massively restructured organisation that has a leaner and meaner attitude.

It's increasingly clear that in today's information-intensive world that "business as usual" will no longer be tolerated -- not by employees and especially by customers. The minute someone else figures out how to do it better, faster and more economically, let's face it -- your company's eating dust. And the responsibility to out-think a competitor is falling more and more on the CIO.

Senior management wants to align the IT plan and infrastructure with business strategy. That, as the IMA report observes, leaves CIOs with the enormous task of explaining the significance of emerging technologies and demonstrating how previous investments in technology have contributed to the bottom line.

CIOs have long struggled with getting others to see them as strategic managers.

In fact, all too often executives still believe that IS is just a maintenance and service centre. This, as King points out in our story, is due in part to the fact that CIOs themselves are still focusing on the technical aspects of their work and ignoring their role as managers and leaders.

It's time to start changing general opinion. As CIOs, you must demonstrate to your bosses and peers that you know more about business strategy than they think you do. You're not just some hacker; you're a business strategist with a keen understanding of information technology who can make valuable contributions to the management team.

If CIOs continue to push this barrow, they'll not only "get there", they'll have "arrived".

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