The sky of IT certainly seems to be falling, depending on who you read. But this is the best of times for CIOs to sit down with their CEO and ask for help.
Especially during a thorny economic climate, CIOs have a wonderful opportunity to engage the CEO in a conversation that everyone is too busy -- and too busy spending -- to tolerate when the good times are rolling. Here are 5 requests you should make now so that IT can help achieve, sustain, or turn around company performance:
1. Articulate revised business priorities. Discuss the up-to-date company strategy -- near and far -- with me as well as your other executives. When it's clear to us, we can advise how to achieve it. When it's murky, we may cut in areas that might later prove strategic.
2. Use business unit IT spend as a cost control lever. As the executive team scans the horizon for ways to save money, think about shutting down fiefdoms in your business units -- consolidating data centers, standardizing on applications, adopting a process that exists elsewhere. This is the time to limit some of the autonomy that has caused systems to proliferate and information management to be cumbersome.
3. Centralize tech procurement and services sourcing. At best, save money with centralized control license negotiation, maintenance agreements, and identification of new vendors. At least, join me in introducing a senior architectural governance body that reviews and advises on new purchases or contract renewals.
4. Envangelize and annoint process ownership. Your business unit execs all want to get on with business. But your customer loyalty is jeopardized when they behave as different companies -- web presence, billing, service, telephony, and procedures. Insist that your team executives pick up ownership for a company-wide process and establish a metric for ownership that they must track. Now we have the ingredients to shorten project length, improve customer service and satisfaction.
5. Help me help us -- get involved. When it comes to process simplification or finding sources of innovation that can generate revenue or slash costs -- I need your involvement. You can help by encouraging collaboration among competing executives, asking questions, and streamlining priortization and decision-making. We can cut logjams, shrink project laundry lists, and eliminate excess spending.
We in IT want to help -- but we need your support to become focused -- now is the best of times for that focus.
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