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Issue of December 2005 

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Grooming tomorrow’s business leaders

Today’s CIOs have the chance to become tomorrow’s business heads or CEOs. This is because a CIO interacts with all core business activities on a daily basis.

CIO Wisdom is the collaborative effort of many CIOs who have pooled their resources, experiences and insights on how someone from their clan can become a business leader in the future. Divided into 17 chapters, the book’s language is concise and clear. It is rich in tips and extremely well-paced. Though it targets CIOs, even a lay person with basic business skills can appreciate the finer points covered in the book.

It begins by defining the role of a CIO, a relatively new executive management position introduced in the early 1980s. Earlier, the CIO’s job was confined to helping enterprises maintain the IT infrastructure that supported their business. In contrast, today’s CIOs are not only technology leaders, they are also business strategists and play a strong role in developing a product or service and its marketing and sales. Their job is to embark on a journey to discover IT-enabled business opportunities. They have to use IT initiatives and innovations to constantly streamline the business process and provide a competitive edge to their organisation.

The book includes a chapter that focusses on women CIOs. It zeroes in on three successful female CIOs who talk about their greatest achievements and failures, the secret of their success, hurdles faced while rising up the corporate ladder, and advice for young women aspiring to become CIOs.

Another chapter highlights the strategy a CIO should adopt during the first 90 days of his tenure since this is a crucial period in his career; decisions taken during this time can make or break him. Also during this period the management and board of directors are most receptive to his needs and concerns, including request for staff and funds to give him a good start.

The author shares tips for developing and honing the leadership skills of a CIO. It lays down the five fundamentals of leading by example, five strategies to align the business, and two practices to sustain success. It covers the most essential skill of all successful CIOs—the ability to communicate effectively. The secret of better communication, says the author, is to think ahead and anticipate business needs and problems before they arise.

Title : CIO Wisdom
Author : Dean Lane
Publisher : Prentice Hall
Pages : 412
Price : Rs 2,088
e-mail :

CIO Wisdom provides the CIO with insights into an IT organisation. It delves into the importance of assembling the right people, aligning IT with business, establishing special relationships with different business units, and monitoring key functions to ensure that strategic business processes are properly managed.

Governance, a core issue faced by CIOs, is also covered. In order to be successful, a business must grow with the use of hard infrastructure such as network and security systems and soft infrastructure like decision-making bodies and company policies. Governance falls in the latter category as it improves decision-making so that daily operations can function with minimum supervision. Thus, the CIO can focus on strategic planning and turn the corporate vision into reality.

The book covers important challenges faced by CIOs including architectural planning and implementation, and strategic outsourcing and aligning it with the company’s goals and objectives. It guides the reader on how to make people work with you and not for you, how to set strategic goals and business objectives, and how to achieve them.

In addition, the book stresses the marketing of the IT department’s achievements to make top management and the company’s customers aware of the level of IT services delivered within various layers of the organisation. It emphasises the need to help the IT department secure its budget without hassles.

To be really successful, a business must monitor, measure, and manage itself constantly. Proper metrics must be identified and actionable metrics must be defined, measured and managed constantly to improve business. The book points out the need for and importance of business intelligence. To surge ahead of competition or retain the edge, CIOs must get facts, data, information, knowledge and proper insight to take effective and profitable business decisions. This book can help.

Kumar Dawada

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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