February 4, 2010  10:11 PM

2009 IT lessons: How did the recession change your IT organization?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

I can’t believe it’s already February (and thank goodness: I wouldn’t have been able to wait much longer for “Lost” to return!). Here at, even though a full month of 2010 is behind us, we’re still sorting through and reviewing 2009 IT lessons — “recession lessons,” if you will. This month’s CIO Briefing was a roundup of the results from our CIO and IT salaries and careers survey conducted in late 2009. I also put together a quiz to see if you’ve been paying attention to our recent coverage of technology-related recession lessons from 2009.

Why the long look back? I hate to be trite, but if you don’t learn history you’re doomed to repeat it — yes, CIOs, that includes you. A lot of desperate measures — or at least, that’s how they were viewed at the time — were put into place in IT organizations in the past year and a half. These included reduced IT staffing levels, an increased emphasis on business process management — you don’t need me to tell you, because you’re probably the one who had to make these difficult management decisions. I think we’re all looking forward to the day — maybe it will come later this year? — when IT budgets will loosen once again, allowing for the rededication of resources to IT, which can help move the entire business forward.

But if you enterprise CIOs go back to the old way of doing things once your budget dollars start trickling back, be warned that you’ll most likely be falling behind your peers. That’s because 2009 IT lessons will play a key role in dictating the future of IT.

The IT organization will always be charged with examining and implementing emerging technologies, but we’ve got to accomplish those “keeping the lights on” tasks quickly and efficiently, too. In all likelihood, business process automation will explode over the next few years as IT organizations find a cheaper way to complete this repetitive work. Business intelligence tools and dashboards will also be huge, as enterprise CIOs must keep track of an ever-widening playing field. IT outsourcing, which I covered quite a bit over the past year, will certainly make up a piece of the pie in replacing IT staffing without the salary commitments of the past.

What 2009 IT lessons are you carrying into your IT plans for 2010 — and beyond? Sound off below!

February 4, 2010  8:04 PM

Merck, Chevron and BP are touting a new IT management framework

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

It’s easy to forget how young a discipline IT is, given its enormous presence in our lives. Yesterday, however, that fact was front and center, as I watched the top IT talent at Intel Corp., Merck KGaA, BP PLC and Chevron Corp. talk about raising their “maturity levels.” Brilliant minds, and they’re talking about inching from Level 2 to Level 3 with the help of a new management IT framework called the IT-CMF, the Capability Maturity Framework.

The occasion was a morning presentation in downtown Boston by the Innovation Value Institute (IVI), a joint venture between Intel Corp., The Boston Consulting Group and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Established in 2006 and based in large part on the intellectual capital of Martin Curley of Intel, IVI’s mission, as the press material states, is “to tackle the universal problem of otherwise highly sophisticated companies ‘shooting in the dark’ on their IT investments.” The goal is to manage IT for business value.

News Editor Tina Torode will be writing in more detail about IT-CMF’s five-stage maturity framework, the end-to-end 36 IT processes it covers and its database of best practices culled from the insights of industry titans like Chevron, BP and Merck. Suffice it to say here that there was a lot of talk about assessments, establishing a baseline of maturity, drilldowns, identifying gaps, tapping into best practices. Oh, yes, and slide upon slide of charts with multicolored arrows to indicate the progression to maturity.

In one-on-one interviews after the slide presentations, some of the IVI presenters acknowledged the obvious: that the framework is young, that rounding out its database of best practices will realistically take more years and many more companies. Vincenzo Marchese, head of architecture capability and performance at BP, for example, said that while the framework addressed processes and delineated the underlying capabilities necessary to achieve a particular level of maturity, it did not cover people and tools much. Those 36 processes also could use some pruning, he said. But the framework, its disciples agreed, was a path to measuring whether the billions of dollars spent on IT are bringing an ROI for their funders. In addition, its emphasis on continuous improvement, an approach long embraced by business, was fundamental to helping IT mature.

Indeed, the emotional wallop for me, sitting in The Boston Consulting Group’s 31st-floor seminar room with magnificent views of the Boston Harbor, was how desperately IT wants to find a way to demonstrate its business value. IT, the Peter Pan of the commercial world, needs to grow up, in the eyes of these people. Maybe this IT-CMF framework will help.

February 1, 2010  9:18 PM

Business intelligence software as a revenue generator

Christina Torode Christina Torode Profile: Christina Torode

You’ve gotten them: those 10-page documents detailing your cell phone bill, credit card account or bank statement. But now, because of the economy, you may start to receive those statements in an online-only format — with business intelligence (BI) options built in.

At least that’s the trend that BI software vendor Information Builders Inc. is banking on. IBI sees a growing business in which third-party credit-card processors for retail or banking outlets provide consumer-facing statements in a Software as a Service or portal format, with such BI components as trending built right in. This SaaS model has allowed one credit-card processing company to save millions of dollars per year on the costs of postage and paper.

Also interesting is how some of IBI’s credit-card processing customers are using the company’s WebFocus BI software to sell consumer data back to retailers (devoid of names and accounts, of course). I haven’t heard too much about BI as a revenue generator or about companies using BI to create services to sell to their own customer base, but it’s happening among IBI’s customer base. And it’s also on the radar of Gartner’s upcoming Business Intelligence Summit this April in Las Vegas.

There’s more: Large discount retailers are using WebFocus to gather sales and marketing trend data in real time, down to each store level, and are sharing that data with all the stores — another way for BI to boost sales.

All in all, IBI believes the future of business intelligence is in creating services for your customers or using BI to generate sales in your own company, not just in internal financial forecasting and trending.

Are you finding new ways to use your BI tools to generate revenue, or are you still trying to get a handle on it for internal use? Email me at

February 1, 2010  6:00 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up: Google Chrome, iPad, social networking privacy

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

Good afternoon! Here’s some of the latest chatter in the tech sphere today:

Google’s Chrome browser continues to gobble up market share from Internet Explorer and Firefox. A few months ago, I switched to Chrome and have loved the results (Firefox had gotten way too buggy). How about you?

The iPad chatter continues. I opined last week about some of the whiffs on the iPad device, but this article posited that the lack of Flash video might not matter.

According to a report by Sophos, malware and spam are on the rise on social networks such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. Check those privacy settings, people.

On, we spent the past week looking at CIO best practices (and putting your knowledge to the test!), vendor contract management, methods for IT staff when salary increases are off the tables, and ways to boost efficiency through technology spending. Read the stories linked below and sound off with your comments!

CIO best practices: A self-assessment guide for top IT professionals — Some CIO best practices held steady in the recession, while others have shifted. Test if you’ve kept up with these quizzes in our self-assessment guide for top IT professionals.

Vendor contract management key to cutting costs through renegotiation — Enterprises are finding ways to use vendor contract management as a means to cut costs by renegotiating contracts down to the maintenance-clause and business-unit levels.

Motivation incentives for IT staff when salary increases not an option — How can you provide motivation incentives for IT staff when you can’t increase salaries? Offer them meaningful work and IT job opportunities, advises our CIO columnist.

CIO technology spending focused on reducing risk, boosting efficiency — Doing more with less remains the mantra for CIOs as we dig into our IT Priorities Survey on technology spending. The priorities? Mitigating risk. Essential upgrades. Cutting costs.

January 29, 2010  4:04 PM

The next big enterprise business tool: the iPad? Share your thoughts

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

OK, OK, enough with calling Apple’s new tablet computer the “iTampon.” The name “iPad” is worth a giggle, maybe, but one of the top-trending topics on Twitter? Please. Let’s put our adult hats on and move forward in our discussions of the iPad, namely: Does this device have a future as an enterprise business tool?

It could go either way. Naysayers point to the iPad’s inability to run simultaneous apps (a big whiff, in my book), but others say it will play a big role in the enterprise and sooner than you might think — for example, this piece in The New York Times:

“The iPad is clearly one of those universal technologies that will be as useful in the home as in the office. Much like the iPhone, people will want it for work simply because it will be useful for getting work completed. Like any Apple product, it’s easy to use. It’s lightweight. And it’s mobile. Plus, this baby is as sleek as it gets.

“According to Forrester Research, the iPad will be particularly well suited to the high-end mobile office worker. These people will pay for the tablet themselves. They will primarily use it for messaging and collaboration and to access email, calendars and productivity applications.”

It’s really consumers who fell into a full-tilt swoon when they heard the iPad price point of $499 (and up, depending on your Internet coverage). And it’s consumers who will purchase the iPad for their own use — and quickly realize its benefits as an enterprise business tool and efficiency booster, if those benefits do indeed exist — that will shuttle this new tablet into the enterprise.

So, don’t be tempted to tinker with your existing hardware budget based on the iPad’s promise, at least not yet. A lot of CIOs have held off on hardware replacements since the economy took a nosedive, and once some of those dollars return to IT budgets, you can bet they’ll be looking to upgrade. But most IT shops still run on PCs and Windows, and — especially with the positive buzz around Windows 7 (as opposed to Vista grumbles) — I don’t see that changing.

If there’s a can’t-miss enterprise use for this baby, your users will let you know. If you decide to purchase an iPad for your personal use, explore its apps and interface with an eye to business efficiency.

I know we’ve all probably blogged and Tweeted the iPad to death already for the past few days, but I’d really like to hear whether you foresee the iPad being successful as an enterprise business tool, and how you see it entering that sphere.

January 27, 2010  9:11 PM

Oracle plays hardball with Rimini on third-party maintenance

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

“This case is about the massive theft of Oracle’s software and related support materials through an illegal business model by Defendant Rimini Street and its CEO and President, Defendant Seth Ravin,” states the latest lawsuit filed by Oracle Corp.


Big bad-a** Oracle is back in court over third-party maintenance, using the same puffed-up language found in its 2007 lawsuit against SAP’s TomorrowNow, which accused the now-defunct third-party-maintenance provider of “corporate theft on a grand scale.” Get ready for Round 2 in the battle to protect the golden goose of Big Software — double-digit annual maintenance fees.

In the case of Oracle USA Inc. v. Rimini Street Inc., Oracle’s sharp-tongued lawyers accuse Rimini of illegally downloading Oracle’s software and support materials “in a scheme that is vast in scope.” Oracle alleges that Rimini uses “‘robots or ‘crawlers,’ in intentional violation of Oracle’s Technical Support website terms of use.”

According to the lawsuit, Rimini’s “intrusions” have damaged Oracle’s support service business by causing the databases that host the software and support materials to freeze, to the detriment of Oracle customers. The phrase “massive illegal downloads” appears liberally throughout the suit.

Rimini’s Ravin has stated that the firm will fight the case. (For anyone interested in hearing Ravin in a less-scripted mode, I did an interview with him about the touchy topic of third-party software maintenance shortly after Oracle filed its lawsuit against SAP.) What I’ll be following and following up on is what the lawsuit means for the perennial third-party maintenance arguments, as well as for CIOs.

When Oracle sued SAP in 2007, I consulted lawyers and IT experts, who thought the suit carried a warning for CIOs. They advised CIOs who had moved or were considering a move to third-party maintenance to be mindful of how they transitioned from one provider to a competitor, and to review their contracts about nondisclosure restrictions. That risk to CIOs in that case was explicit.

In the 2007 case, Oracle called out Honeywell International Inc. as an example of how TomorrowNow used Honeywell’s passwords to allegedly download Oracle support materials beyond the scope of products “that Honeywell had licensed and to which it had authorized access.” Gartner also issued an advisory for CIOs. 

Legal merits aside, I wonder whether we’ll see a backlash to this latest Oracle suit by customers, given the enormous pressure CIOs have been under to cut costs. I’ve talked to a number of CIOs this year who have dropped maintenance, and others, like Bill Yearous, who actually dropped Oracle after pricing went up.

January 26, 2010  4:03 PM

Cloud computing: Does IT scalability translate into business agility?

Christina Torode Christina Torode Profile: Christina Torode

I was talking to an analyst recently about how to improve IT responsiveness when the subject of cloud computing came up.

The cloud lets IT scale out servers and entire platforms pretty quickly, which to me translates into better IT response times and, in turn, increased business agility.

A standard example is a marketing team’s request for IT’s help in launching a new campaign. IT calls their cloud computing partner and, voila, all the servers and storage that campaign needs are up in a day. And the infrastructure can be torn down just as quickly when the campaign has run its course.

Then there are enterprises testing applications in the cloud to avoid building out testing infrastructures of their own and to prevent business projects from backing up in a queue.

Those scenarios seem like steps in the right direction to achieving agile IT and business processes, but something is missing.

George Spalding, executive vice president at IT management consulting firm Pink Elephant, pointed out that the cloud’s ability to help a business scale, and in turn be agile, has its limitations.

“I can add a terabyte of storage and not even make a phone call,” Spalding said. “That’s fantastic, but whether that is really agile, I’m not 100% sold on that.” As it stands now, cloud computing platforms are pretty cookie-cutter, and it is the business that has to adjust to a cloud provider’s platforms and configurations, he explained, which doesn’t exactly help with the cloud-equals-business-agility argument.

Limited platforms and a limited number of cloud providers could lead to vendor lock-in — also not exactly a boost for agile business processes or projects.

Spalding’s observation made me wonder if cloud computing providers will, over time, offer more platform choices, and if it is economically feasible for them to do so. Or maybe we’ll start to see providers that specialize by industry or introduce more configuration choices as demand grows.

But as it stands now, according to a recent IT purchasing intentions survey, cloud deployments are still far down on the list of IT investment priorities in 2010.

January 25, 2010  5:28 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up: Twitter from space, end of iPhone exclusivity?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

A few things I’m expecting our readers to continue talking about this week:

The possible end of iPhone exclusivity on AT&T. Would having your choice of service providers make you more likely to consider the iPhone as an enterprise business tool, or are you sticking with the BlackBerry no matter what? I might write more on this; I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Apparently, in space, everybody can hear you Tweet. So, if NASA astronauts can Tweet from space, then your staff have no excuse, right? Do you use Twitter for work? I do – you can find me at @rlebeaux and @enterprisecio. I’d love to hear any IT departments’ success stories in using social media to improve workflow and efficiency.

I really liked this New York Times chart on where Google, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo compete in areas such as mobile apps, RSS readers and business software (in case you were wondering, all four compete in that area).

Also, catch up on our latest content:

I blogged last week about password best practices and data privacy. Here’s a hint: Don’t make your password “123456.” Just…don’t.

IT salary and careers survey: CIOs expect raises, despite gloomy mood —’s annual IT salary and careers survey indicates that IT execs expect pay increases in 2010, even though pessimism and tactical concerns linger. Read our latest stories here.

The road to agile IT runs through IT services management and PPM — Agile IT can be realized with IT services management best practices and project portfolio management, but IT leaders need to clean house first.

IT budgets still uncertain as CIOs weigh 2010 technology spending — The 2010 IT budgets picture is still unclear, with consultancies offering different outlooks and CIOs juggling between keeping costs low and making necessary upgrades.

January 22, 2010  2:58 PM

Password best practices: Why your company’s data privacy is at stake

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

When I heard about a study on password worst practices at social network app maker RockYou (which was hacked late last year), my initial thought was a very mature “I must be smarter than their users — because who wouldn’t follow password best practices?” Who chooses passwords like 123456 or password in today’s hack-happy, data-privacy-and-protection-focused tech world? I remember Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account getting hacked soon after she was named John McCain’s vice presidential running mate back in 2008, and experts surmised that it was because she used easily obtained personal data in setting her passwords.

But we all learned from her errors, right? Savvy corporate IT users and their CIOs don’t need to worry about such password faux pas, right? Wrong. Wait, what?

Because users tend to use the same passwords on most of all of their work and personal accounts, a hacker’s ability to infiltrate one can quickly lead to unlocking the rest. In a 2009 Twitter document hack, “once the hacker broke into a single employee’s Gmail account, he was running free and eventually got access to a lot of sensitive corporate information.”

Gulp. Maybe I need to stop patting myself on the back. Just because my passwords are more difficult to guess than iloveyou (another top choice), it doesn’t mean I’m not putting my own information — or, worse, my company’s – at serious risk of an IT security breach by selecting similar passwords for various corporate sign-ons.

We research and write a lot about the technical side of data privacy and protection — but what about the human side? It surprises me that there still may be many company employee manuals that don’t include a section on data privacy that stipulates password best practices and emphasizes that duplicate passwords are a no-go. Could it be that employees are just ignoring the rules or making information too easily accessible to potential breaches? My colleague Kristen Caretta once blogged, quite correctly, that dressing up as a Post-It note with a secure password could qualify as a scary geek Halloween costume, since one-third of most passwords are still being tracked that way.

Does your company maintain rules regarding data privacy and protection with regard to passwords? Do you have a good way of enforcing these rules? And what’s your favorite password? (Kidding, kidding)

January 21, 2010  1:45 PM

2010 IT budgets are unsettled and unsettling

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

After a week or so on the phone with any CIO I could get in touch with, here’s my super-unscientific prognostication on IT budgets in 2010: IT spending and CIO priorities are all over the board.

  • Some IT departments are still focused on cost-cutting in the face of budget decreases in 2010.
  • Another chunk of CIOs are tackling long-delayed upgrades this year to increase efficiency and productivity, rather than adding capabilities.
  • End-of-life systems are getting replaced. The death march of old PBX systems continues.
  • And lastly, CIOs believe that automated work processes that were put in place due to layoffs better position their organizations when and if an economic upturn comes.
  • You get the picture — it’s all over the board.

    In an attempt to put some data to these impressions, I checked the most recent predictions coming out of the research houses and found them to be no help at all. What can you make of things, when Gartner is predicting a 1.3% growth in IT budgets for 2010 — so basically flat — while Forrester Research is projecting 6.6% budget growth for the IT market in 2010?

    Certainly, the Gartner prediction is more in line with other surveys out there. Our own TechTarget polling shows the majority of CIOs expect IT budgets to be flat or smaller this year. Then again, Gartner got 2009 wrong, starting out by predicting roughly 3% growth in IT budgets in 2009 only to revise that number downward quarter by quarter. This week, Gartner proclaimed 2009 the worst year ever for IT budgets: down by 8.1%, wiping out four years of growth.

    Meanwhile, over at Forrester, analyst Andy Bartels told me it is not surprising that CIOs are telling survey takers that budgets are flat or down next year. “Coming out of recession, they want to be cautious; they don’t want to go out on a limb,” he said. Barring the country slipping back into recession, however, he is convinced that CIOs “will get leave to spend over their budgets.”

    Question of the day: Are you getting any signals from the boss that you’ll be able to spend over your official budget this year?

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