CIO Priorities: Increase Cash Flow, Process Efficiencies, IT Awareness
November 1, 2010 Dan Burger
On the list of CIO duties and responsibilities, mind reader is the one that rarely shows up but is often required. And the brain silo that needs to be tapped into? The CEO’s, of course. Whether the grand poobah of your company is forthcoming about it or not, his reliance on the IT department grows each day, each month, each year. So that you have a better idea what Mr. Big Cheese in the corner office is expecting, the analysts at Gartner brain-scanned a bunch of top execs and this is their diagnosis.
Ranking near the top of the revelations brought to light were such things as: a greater interest in IT projects that generate cash and create efficiencies; using IT to enhance the delivery of new product and service innovations; and added pressure to perform data analysis and information inquiries.
Gartner advises CIOs to not only initiate projects that bring cash to the bottom line, but to make certain the CEO is aware of the contribution IT is making to that extremely high priority. The point is that continuing to do excellent work on your IT island isn’t enough. If the boss is unaware of IT’s value, you are in a position to lose budget to another department that contributes less but talks it up more.
“Business leaders see very uncertain times ahead in 2011, and they must defend growth despite falling business and consumer confidence,” said Mark Raskino, a Gartner vice president, as he presented the industry trends that were collected at a Gartner Symposium in mid-October. “We all want business leaders who are technology savvy and will work smartly with their CIOs to understand the promise of IT, properly invest in it, and lead the business in its full exploitation.”
If CEOs think IT has little or nothing to do with making money, they tend to dislike it and not be interested in understanding it. CIOs that allow that to happen are putting a noose around the department’s neck.
Along those same lines, Gartner’s advice to CIOs is to zero in on business process cost-savings projects. One example is replacing paper documents and filing cabinets with electronic document management and online access. Projects involving e-commerce, e-service, and smartphones also fit into this category.
“The ‘great recovery’ generation of CEOs will be put into position over the next five years. Those people are in CIO-peer and peer-network positions right now,” Raskino noted. “As a profession we can only reap what we sow. CIOs should identify the people around them most likely to rise to the top job and take time to help them in the late stages of their professional development. Teach, mentor, advise, persuade, support, nurture, and generally cultivate the next business leader you hope to be working for.”