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Issue of August 2004 

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Clearing the hurdles

The cover story of the March 2004 issue of Network Magazine, was titled 'CIO as business strategist.' In that story we had written about the modern day CIO and his new role. At that time we said, the CIO has a lot of learning to do about the business. We also spoke about all the skills the new CIO needs to have, and expectations from top management.

Around that time, Network Magazine also kicked off its annual industry survey, Infrastructure Strategies 2004. Some 250 CIOs in cities across the nation were asked questions relating to technology spending and alignment of IT and business. The same CIOs were also asked about the hurdles they face on a day-to-day basis.

We’ve identified seven challenges and write about the five key ones in this month's issue.

Hurdle #1: Overwhelming pace of technology change

Information Technology changes at a rapid pace and it is difficult for organizations to keep up. The strategy here is to stick with what you have yet carefully evaluate new technologies and look out for business benefits.

Hurdle #2: Lack of key staff and skills retention

Faced with the problem of high attrition levels of knowledge workers, CIOs had to resort to 'Rightsourcing'--drawing a balance between outsourcing and 'insourcing.' Furthermore, they aim to hire the right people to fit the role from a long-term perspective.

Hurdle #3: Shortage of time for strategic thinking

The CIO now needs to focus on the business side. As a business strategist he needs to understand the business objectives and initiatives, and choose technology to drive them. That's a whole new set of tasks and a day has only so many hours. The strategy is to delegate, set up strategic planning teams, and also a few extra hours at work.

Hurdle #4: Inadequate budgets and prioritizing

Traditionally, IT budgets have been a challenge for CIOs. Even as IT spending picks up, some businesses still have constrained budgets. But CIOs say this will not be a problem if the business benefits are clearly defined and communicated well to top management.

Hurdle #5: Poor vendor support and service

As vendors vie with each other for the coveted win, CIOs ponder about the kind of service and support they will get in future. Some recount their "bad experiences," but experience is a good teacher. It's important to build stronger ties with vendors, treat them like business partners and get them involved in your business. Don't forget the penalty clauses in the SLAs!

Though we keep talking about challenges and hurdles, some CIOs beg to differ. One CIO said these are not challenges, but just things a CIO has to deal with on a daily basis.

— Brian Pereira, Assistant Editor

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