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.
Weve 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
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.