Oh I See! Getting CIOs to view their jobs from a different angle

Nov 9 2010   1:22AM GMT

Setting priorities for 2011

Arun Gupta Arun Gupta Profile: Arun Gupta

In a few weeks, It will be that time of the year when everyone starts creating lists — of priorities, challenges, opportunities (which hopefully also get budgets allocated), new technologies, and so on. Everyone from analysts, researchers, academics, CEOs, CIOs, publications and anyone who has an opinion contribute to the increasing top three, five, ten (or in some cases a random number) based on their comfort of things that are a must do, must watch for, avoid, don’t even think about it, failures, every possible happening, news, people, the list is endless. I am tired …

A lot of these are thought up while on the keyboard, some have inane research to justify, a few are meaningful too. CIOs and IT folks love these, and watch them like religion. Or hate and ignore them because the lists only add to the existing chaos. Adding to these is a set that creates lists for internal and/or external consumption.

Over the years, I tracked lists from major IT research houses and publishing companies to ascertain their alignment with what I planned to do. Like with every list (and that applies to horoscopes too), I found that the alignment varied from 10% to 80%. If you put together a list of current buzzwords, hype curve technologies, magic quadrants, waves, or similar research, you are bound to get a few that will resonate with the personal and corporate agenda.

Now the differences are always explained in context of industry, geography, size of company, maturity in the IT adoption curve; you could also include sun spots, solar or lunar eclipses, global warming, or any other metrics that you can think of. So why does everyone continue to invest significant resources, time and manpower towards the creation of such lists? My belief is that they need to pin up something on their (and others) soft boards, put in presentations, or just publish them for others to marvel at.

Reality is that the lists created by surveys and research are self-fulfilling, based on the asked questions. If a list (of say 10 items) is presented and the respondents are asked to prioritize them, that’s what you will get. Rarely does anyone ask for respondents to fill in 10 blank rows with what their priorities may be. That would be chaotic and statistically not tenable in a report, but would make interesting reading.

So here is my list of lists that I do not wish to see in 2011.

1. Top 3,5,10 priorities/opportunities for the CIO/IT organization
2. Top 10 technologies to watch out for
3. Top (pick a number) business priorities/challenges
4. Top (pick a number) challenges for the CIO/IT organization

If you have any others, do put in your comments. If you love the lists, enjoy them, or if you are cynical of them, join the party. However, if you are indifferent about these and have achieved a nirvana state, can I enroll as your student?

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