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Whither Thou Goest

Whither Thou Goest

The wins of the past might not be good enough to sustain the future

Happy 2007 — here's hoping it will be a very good year for all of us. If nothing else, it will certainly be a notable year for CIO: locally we'll mark our 10-year anniversary and the US mother ship will observe a score. And, if you're really looking to feel old, the granddaddy of the stable, US Computerworld, is hitting the big four-O (CW Australia turns 30 next year). So bring out the champers and celebrate, right? Umm, let's maybe keep that cork in for the moment while we do spot of maths for the sake of discussion.

Let's go young and say that when US CW debuted in 1967 you were a mere whipper snipper of 20. Well, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to do the maths: today you're 60 (or close to it). With US CIO, I'm going to up the ante and figure that if you were the alpha dog of the IT department back in 1987, you were probably blowing out at least 35 candles on your birthday cake. That means in 2007 you'll be staring down 55 of them. Even erring on the side of young, and sticking with age 35 when the baby of the bunch — this publication — first landed on your desk, you'd be 45.

In these nascent days of 2007, with the end of the first decade of the 21st century looming, I can't help but wonder if the Boomers (of which I am one) are leaving a sustainable IT legacy

Okay, we've done the maths and what do the sums show? Looks to me like a set of readers who are pretty much the bookends of the Baby Boomer generation — the generation that moulded the IT department and gave rise to the CIO role. It's also the generation with its eye on the exit door. And, when you do go, you'll be leaving a noteworthy legacy: today technology largely underpins the business of any reasonable size organization and through the CIO has a seat at the table.

But in these nascent days of 2007, with the end of the first decade of the 21st century looming, I can't help but wonder if the Boomers (of which I am one) are leaving a sustainable IT legacy. Are we clinging too tightly to old technologist's views and models when the answers to next-generation business issues lie within a tech-savvy business, not a technology-centric group. Are CIOs prepping, not just their successors, but their IT departments in general, for a future where technology is not set apart, but is in fact a part of the business? And ultimately, how secure is that seat at the table for the next generation of CIOs, if today's CIOs do not plan for this very different future?

I don't deign to have the answers, but I'd like to suggest that as our time draws to a close, perhaps the Boomers' biggest and most important legacy will not be the paths we cleared, but the ones we point out for those who will follow us.

Meanwhile, let's pop that cork on the champers. You've done one helluva job thus far and are not yet out the exit door. It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.

PS Check out the new CIO Web site (cio.com.au) if you haven't already. Awesome.

linda_kennedy@idg.com.au

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