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The fundamentals of tech investments today

Alexander Bloch | Jan. 7, 2003
Trends in IT deployment and where your technology budget should go

Another interesting dimension is this: there is certainly a greater emphasis placed on building flexible technology infrastructures. In fact, from a year ago when it was not even on Gartners charts, it has come in as item eight today. So, clearly theres a recognition that the agility and flexibility of infrastructure is fast becoming a high priority of the CIO.

This ties in with the role of the CIO, who needs to be flexible and agile too. There is a delicate balance that the CIO has to strike between his/her tactical and strategic objectives today. He/She has to pursue both of them. In order to achieve that successfully, I believe that the hand of the CIO has to grip strategy very tightly, while his/her feet are bound very firmly to execution delivery. That is a very delicate balance to maintain, but it is a necessity. I dont foresee a future where the CIO can have the luxury of just focusing on strategic and innovative initiatives at his/her organisationwhile somebody else is taking care of all the day-to-day solution delivery work.

So the CIO has no choice but find every possible means to be effective in reiterating a single point of accountability for top business management, the Board and other senior business colleagues. A single point of accountability. A strategic player no less, who does not lose sight of something very fundamental that he/she has been responsible for many yearsservice excellence, delivery excellence and operational excellence, in the technical, implemental jobs that he/she does. Thats a very important element to consider.

Support at the Centre

Another element in this new world of business to consider is the need for CIOs to effectively focus on knowledge. By this I am referring to how they can effect the transformation of data into knowledge at their organisations. That has been an increasing focus of CIOs. The CIO is a key player in major corporate transformation. The transformative power of the CIO is pretty fundamental. There is not a major corporation today that does not place the CIO in the centre of challenges. That is a very important difference to the way it was ten or 20 years ago.

That is a matter that requires closer examination. Because it poses significant challenges, even as it throws up great opportunities. To illustrate this point: while the CIO is placed in the centre of major transformation roles where theres an enterprise resource planning implementation or in the centre of new infrastructure roles, he/she cannot implement without significant support. Personally, I was fortunate in my time as a CIO [in a previous job] because I enjoyed a very informal network with my senior business colleagues. I was able to recruit and engage the help of my CFO, who actually went out of his way to help me. In the case of a particular project I needed support in, one of the most effective he things did for me was write a simple email to his entire staff. I will never forget this. That email comprised of four simple sentences. And the gist of it was this: There are 2 rules to this implementation. Rule number oneif anybody resists this implementation, they will be fired on the spot. Rule number twoif anybody resists the SAP implementation again, they will be fired on the spot. That is the most significant and powerful thing a CIO could have. It just shows you that if the CIO is to be placed in the centre, he/she must have support from appropriate senior colleagues to achieve a fundamental change at his/her organisation.


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