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Your Agenda 2006: It's a Shoe-in

Your Agenda 2006: It's a Shoe-in

Their cost-cutting diet of the last few years has taught CIOs how to make the most of the resources they've got. They've largely shed that tired old "geek" label by developing strategic sensibilities, business acumen and communication skills. They've responded to catcalls about whether IT really matters by delivering value for the business and claiming a seat at the executive table

Our annual report, based on an exclusive survey of more than 275 heads of IT, shows that you're starting the new year off from a position of strength.

The more things change - well, the more they change, and finally it appears that times are changing for the better. Not perfect, mind you, but definitely improved. CIO magazine has been doing The State of the CIO survey since 2003 and back then change was for the worse as CXOs stomped hard on what they deigned profligate spending on big-bang projects that sucked money from their coffers and demonstrated very little value.

It was a time to read the dollars spent and weep: billions on the Y2K disaster that was a non-event, Internet projects that gobbled money a la Pacman and came to naught, and last, but not least, that exceedingly naughty tag team known as ERP and CRM, which together not only regularly disrupted - and at times halted - business operations, but garnered almost as much bad press for organizations as creative accounting and greedy CEOs.

IT and CIOs took it on the chin - even though much of the blame lay with the business and its naive attitude that automation was instant and anything could be bolted on. So IT folded its tent, quietly crept to the back room, sharpened its pencil and cut, then cut again, and again.

But while they were quiet, CIOs weren't inactive. They turned their attentions to fine-tuning and maximizing infrastructure, consolidating investments, focusing on architecture and gaining more business nous. CIOs are nothing if not prepared for the year ahead.

Their cost-cutting diet of the last few years has taught CIOs how to make the most of the resources they've got. They've largely shed that tired old "geek" label by developing strategic sensibilities, business acumen and communication skills. They've responded to catcalls about whether IT really matters by delivering value for the business and claiming a seat at the executive table.

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen - you've been away too long.

Shaping Up, Not Shipping Out

Three years after our first exclusive report, The State of the CIO 2006 survey finds CIOs in better shape than ever before. IT budgets are strong, and pay and job tenure are up. You are usually part of the management team, and you report more often to the CEO than you do to anyone else. You spend a large chunk of your time interacting with other CXOs and business executives and taking part in strategic business decisions.

You overwhelmingly define your role as envisioning business possibilities and initiating with technology, not simply supporting and enabling predefined business initiatives. Seventy percent of CIOs, 72 percent of IT directors and nearly as many CTOs say so. (By contrast, those of you with "manager" in your title largely see your role as simply backing the business as it implements its strategies.)

Nor, as some might suggest, are you watching helplessly as outsourcing decimates your staff. You've learned to arbitrage labour costs, sending lower-value work out of house and devoting your in-house personnel to high-value, visible work such as project management. Your IT department has lowered your enterprise's business costs, improved its productivity and created competitive advantage.

Sure, there are problems - notably, a backlog of projects and requests and a possible staffing crisis looming - but as you enter 2006, you are starting from a position of strength.

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