Rising to the Challenge

Rising to the Challenge

Money and time are in short supply. Demonstrating IT value is a mandate. The challenge is to find ways to do more with less, while continually

This month in part 4 of CIO's exclusive State of the CIO survey we take a close look at the challanges CIOs face and detail their biggest barriers to job effectiveness. In part 1, published in our April issue, we looked at the overarching results of the feedback we received from 257 CIOs and senior IT executives. Part 2, published in May, explored CIOs' best - and worst - working relationships. Last month, part 3 examined CIOs' key responsibilities

To Allens Arthur Robinson IS Director Chris Holmes's mind, the vendor community must bear the blame for just about killing off any credibility the office of the CIO might once have enjoyed within the business community. Holmes believes it is vendors who have undermined, over the past 10 years, the effectiveness of CIOs within organisations. And it was vendors who ultimately destroyed the professionalism that characterised IT in the early 1990s by not playing by the professional standards they themselves helped develop.

"The IT vendors are a marketing-driven series of organisations, and they were based on ever increasing share price structure, so they had to generate very short-term returns on investments in order to keep their share prices going because that was what was really funding them," Holmes says.

"What they found was that when they had created the profession of IT and the CIO, the IT profession started looking at the offerings critically and saying: 'Well look, your ERP thing doesn't actually add any value to my business. It's a fabulous you-beaut thing and what have you, but it really doesn't improve the quality of my business. It's the same with CRM and each of the really big money spinners the vendor community created for itself over the last 10 years."

The vendor community has responded by circumventing the CIO, Holmes argues, taking their pitch direct to the board, to the financial people and to the non-professional IT folk. And what they do there is to sell a vision, not to sell a discipline.

Holmes ought to know. Having worked in the vendor community for many years, he says it is to his shame that he must admit to having been a participant in destroying whatever professional reputation CIOs have tried to build for themselves over the years. But he says it is CIOs themselves that must now labour to reclaim their good reputations.

As Australian CIOs struggle to cope with the many trials and tribulations facing their profession in 2003, poor vendor service and support and a lack of product quality actually rate fairly low on the list of issues they say are bothering them most. Some 61 per cent of Australian CIOs responding to CIO's State of the CIO survey said the biggest barriers to their ability to be effective in the role were inadequate budgets and prioritising, and shortage of time for strategic thinking, respectively. (Compare this to the experience of their US counterparts, where in the 2002 survey only 37 per cent cited inadequate budgets and prioritising as their biggest worry, and just 31 per cent lamented a shortage of time for strategic thinking.)

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More about Allens Arthur RobinsonAustralian Trade Commission (Austrade)CompaqCreativeCrossCheckHewlett-Packard AustraliaHISHPProvisionProvisionRoyal Melbourne HospitalSiemensVIA

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