You may be the smartest candidate for the job, but sometimes it’s all about social connections. This holds true in the Bing versus Google battle for search supremacy. Despite having what may be the smartest computer learning system in the world, the Microsoft-owned search engine lags far behind Google. Why? It’s all about the massive amount of personal information
Big Brother Google captures about users.
If CIOs don’t think they have to compete for the business of internal customers, chances are they’ve already lost them. Check out these expert tips on keeping IT competitive and relevant to the business. While you’re at it, read why we think this just might be the new CIO benchmark.
What’s a little privacy when there’s money to be saved on diapers and coffee? In a quest to create competitive advantage supermarket chains put big data analytics into action by offering customers individualized pricing based on their shopping habits.
Instagram: It’s not just for shoe-gazing hipsters anymore. Increasingly, big-name companies like Starbucks, GE and Nike are leveraging the popular photo app to gather customer data.
Finally, in case you missed it, check out this week’s installment of CIO Matters in which news director Linda Tucci makes a case for the CIO’s need to know just how “green” cloud computing really is and why it matters to us all.]]>
Your project isn’t a project. When is a project not a project? When it’s work. Plain old run-of-the-mill work – remember that? It’s the stuff you can do without a whole lot of planning and processes — and perhaps most importantly, without risk. As Apfel put it, this endeavor might need a team and a schedule to be executable, but whatever it is – an application release, perhaps – it isn’t a project. Why? “Because we’re not worried about it,” she explained.
Your process is inflexible and slow. Well, those are two adjectives that nowadays should strike fear in the heart of any IT organization. But, Apfel noted, many IT project management processes exhibit both traits. The real culprit here is where decisions are made in the prevailing process model – at the top. You might be thinking, but of course! While top-down decision making does reduce the risk of making the wrong decisions, it also can bring the works to a virtual stop while you await that decision. This isn’t really the “old” way of doing things because so many organizations are still doing it. But if they want to keep up, Apfel said, they’ve got to get on board with the world of “change operations.” In this approach, guidelines are set to empower teams to make certain decisions on their own, making the process — hooray! — flexible and faster.
You’re putting the cart before the horse. Apfel insists that many a project management office would avoid failure if it asked this question from the start: What business problem are you trying to solve, and does everyone agree it’s worth the effort to solve it? Too often the “problem” is actually the sought-after solution, she said. She will ask a client what the problem is, and the answer often will be, “We’re standardizing our PPM process.” That’s a solution, not a problem, she noted, and that proverbial cart will go nowhere until the problem is identified.]]>
• From the “don’t tell your teenager” file, sometimes a GPA ain’t nothin’ but a number. There’s book smart, there’s street smart and there’s Steve Jobs smart.
• How well do you know your colleagues in marketing? If you haven’t taken the time to get to know them, you’re going to want to, because, well, it just makes good business sense for everyone. (And Gartner predicts that in five years, your CMO will be spending more on IT than you do.)
• In Forbes, Erica Dhawan, writer, speaker, leadership consultant and Wharton grad, asserts that business schools don’t prepare women for leadership roles. Do you think the same is true in IT?
• Up in the sky, it’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s – Oracle CEO Larry Ellison trying to buy the cloud?
• Is there room for one more in the C-suite? Pondering the creation of the Chief Collaboration Officer role.
• The storm clouds are gathering. According to Michael Chertoff, former secretary of homeland security, Europe and the U.S. are on the verge of a global-scale clash on privacy laws.]]>
I know, however, that soon I’ll start to get pitches from vendors and analyst firms predicting which mobile device will be the next iPad; what the next big disruptive technology will be (the cloud won that honor hands down this year, with mobile devices a close second); and the one thing that CIOs can’t ignore.
For me, that one thing is monetizing IT, a trend we picked up on last year but which I believe will be a game-changer for CIOs in 2012. Technology has become so integrated with how a business runs and serves its customers that CIOs are being asked to contribute to the bottom line.
More important, they are being asked to help others in the enterprise contribute to the bottom line. CIOs are working with chief marketing officers to promote and create new services. Technology practices such as Agile are being adopted by the rest of the business to speed up product time to market and add value to the business. And CIOs are working directly with customers (external customers, not internal end users) to gauge how the business can create a better user experience.
Cutting costs, efficiency gains, business process automation — those all are givens. What CEOs want to hear about is technology that will capitalize on the enterprise’s information assets. They want CIOs to rein in big data to deliver new insights and make money.
We’ll also be looking at how some of the biggest stories of 2011 — consumerization of IT, mobile, social media, big data, shared services and the cloud — will continue to shake things up for CIOs in the coming years.
One more big story for 2012? IT staffing: Finding talent is proving to be pretty difficult, in part because the skill sets in demand are in constant flux, and in part because internal talent development isn’t enough of a focus within IT organizations. As one CIO said to me at a show: “What do I do with the ‘old people’ running the systems we have when we bring in all these new systems?”
Good question. What are your predictions for 2012?
Let us know what you think about this blog post; email: Christina Torode, News Director]]>
Cloud computing, social media and mobility are top of mind for many CIOs, but CEOs are more concerned with traditional IT investments — think ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) — according to a Gartner survey of 220 CEOs employed by large organizations around the world.
“Mobile, social, cloud, and the nexus [of the three] — CEOs in midsized to large global companies don’t understand those words,” said Mark Raskino, Gartner Fellow in the research firm’s executive leadership and innovation group. “They do not volunteer terms like [cloud or social], and they do not understand how such concepts transform the fortune of their company.”
What these business executives do understand is that ERP helps them run the business and CRM helps them win new customers, Raskino said. In fact, anything related to customer wins is the top priority of the CEOs surveyed.
Another discrepancy in terms of priorities? Talent. CIOs are not very concerned about a talent deficit, while CEOs list it as a top concern. “Even though it may not be a top concern for you, it is for your business leaders and you need to be aware of that,” Raskino warned CIOs. CEOs are concerned that too much talent is tied up in a few midrange experts who do most of the work. They would like to see this talent spread out more across the employee base, and technology is one way of making that happen, he said.
The good news is that boards of directors’ expectations of IT are rising, and they are putting that focus on the CEO, who will need to work hand-in-hand with the CIO to figure out how technology will provide a competitive advantage.
“Board members are not saying, we need more social and mobile; but they do have a sense that IT is what helped us become more productive following past recessions in the ’80s, ’90s and 2001,” Raskino said.
Here’s a rundown of CEO top technology priorities for 2012:
Yet another discrepancy? Business intelligence often ranks among CIOs’ top priorities in Gartner surveys, but BI technology was much farther down on the list of CEOs’ priorities.
In the end, CIOs need to help CEOs recognize the need for such newer technology concepts as the cloud, mobility, grid computing and business process reengineering, Raskino said. IT executives have to do this because they are the ones who will make it possible for their businesses to increase productivity, create growth and help solve our economic problems.]]>
In 2009, more than half of organizations surveyed suffered budget cuts. In 2011, however, 56% of IT budgets increased, a healthy percentage compared with 2010, when 34% of organizations saw their IT budgets go up, and to 2009, when 25% of organizations reported IT budget increases. These results are based on SIM interviews with CIOs at 275 organizations in late June.
“It’s probably the biggest jump I have ever seen, and puts us back at pre-recession levels,” said Jerry Luftman, distinguished professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology, who conducts the research for SIM’s annual benchmark.
IT leaders expect the positive trend to continue into next year. Despite talk of a double-dip recession, 84% of the CIOs surveyed expect 2012 budgets to equal or exceed 2011 levels. In one area, IT budgets did decline in the 2011 CIO survey: The percentage of corporate revenue allocated to IT dropped from 3.8% in 2010 to 3.5% in 2011. Luftman has attributed the decrease to a rise in corporate revenue last year and to the historically high percentage of corporate revenue allocated to IT over the past three years — which, at nearly 4%, was well above the average 3.6% of the past six years.
On the hiring front, turnover remains quite low, at 7%, partly because retirement-age boomers can’t afford to retire and partly because there are fewer job openings for senior-level positions, Luftman said. CIOs tell him that when an experienced staff member does retire, they are using that senior-level salary to hire two “newbies,” who cost less and often come in with the newer skills and technology expertise CIOs need. On the bright side, however, overall spending on salaries is trending up:
BI a hard nut to crack
Given their plushier budgets, what are CIOs spending money on? Business intelligence (BI) outstripped cloud computing; ERP systems; mobile and wireless apps; and customer relationship management, or CRM, systems as the top technology investment by CIOs in 2011, according to the survey — and by a long shot.
“BI was a standout — it was 50% higher in the rankings than all the others, which were relatively close in ranking,” Luftman said.
But it appears the upstarts are poised to give BI a run for its money. Mobile and wireless apps took fourth place, up from ninth last year and 13th in 2009. Cloud computing occupies second place, up from fifth place a year ago and 17th place in 2009, the year it made its debut on the SIM survey. The wide disparities in the amount companies are investing in cloud, however, show how nebulous this new computing model remains, Luftman said:
In one respect, BI’s top standing in the SIM survey is no surprise. The technology has ranked first or second on the SIM list of the top five CIO investments since 2003, Luftman said. The reasons for the heavy investment in BI, however, keep changing, he added — a mark of just how hard it is to extract potentially valuable insight from the reams of data collected by businesses . “Initially, BI ranked high because of the complexity of getting your databases in order,” he said.
As organizations have mastered the technical challenges of their BI investments, they have recognized they don’t have the talent to support the technology, Luftman said. “You can’t throw a tool up and expect magic to come out.” The portfolio of required skills goes beyond understanding databases and the way the technology works (important as that is) to include statistical and in-depth business knowledge. People with that combination of skills are “few and far between,” he said. The large volume and the velocity of data generated by companies — Big Data — adds to the challenge. “It is one of the more complicated technologies that we have been engaged in in perhaps in 50 years,” Luftman said — and SearchCIO.com can attest to that in our coverage of Big Data.
CIOs still have serious worries. Of the Top 10 IT management concerns of 2011, the first four focus on using technology to help the business compete. IT and business alignment claimed the top spot in 2011, followed by business agility and speed to market. Reducing business expenses through business process management and re-engineering took the third spot; and increasing business productivity and cost reduction came in fourth. Rounding out the Top 10 management concerns, in order, are these:
5. IT strategic planning.
6. IT reliability and efficiency.
7. Enterprise architecture/infrastructure capability.
8. Security and privacy.
9. Revenue generating IT innovations.
10. IT cost reduction.
“IT is pervasive in business today,” said executive recruiter Shawn Banerji, managing director at Russell Reynolds Associates, who is “flat out” trying to fill enterprise CIO positions across all industries.
One reason for the rush on CIOs is that enterprises increasingly are taking an approach to running the business that relies on data and analytics, and they view technology as a means to gathering the internal and external intelligence to better understand their customers and marketplace, Banerji said.
IT and business alignment isn’t coming up in recruiting conversations because IT, simply put, is so ingrained in the business. “It’s not about IT transformation, and it’s not about business-technology alignment,” Banerji said. “If you don’t view [IT] through the lens of where the business is going and those desired [business] outcomes — whether it be regulatory compliance, risk management, driving revenue profitability, entering new markets, introducing new products — you’re focusing on the wrong things.”
A recent Gartner survey also reflects a shift in CIO responsibilities to enterprise business goals. Among the 2,014 CIOs it polled, increasing enterprise growth was the No. 1 priority, followed by attracting and retaining new customers, and reducing enterprise costs. In 2010, the CIOs surveyed ranked improving business processes as their top priority, followed by reducing enterprise costs.
IT-enabled business transformation will shape the desired CIO skill sets, but it also is being driven by two new workforce realities: young employees with new work habits and new collaboration needs, and mobile and social media technologies becoming primary work tools. These two realities are part and parcel of a megatrend often referred to as the consumerization of IT.
We’d like to hear what you believe the role of the CIO is these days, and whether the conversation at your company is shifting from IT and business alignment to IT-enabled business transformation.
Let us know what you think about this blog post; email Christina Torode, News Director]]>
The old corporate regime, dating back to the days when generals were brought in to run companies post-World War II, is no longer working, but such top-down, command-and-control corporate cultures are still common.
What is needed from the C-suite down is a culture of transparency that encourages input from everyone in the company. That entails a lot of technology platforms, from social media and mobility, to real-time analytics and reports that “mere mortals” can actually decipher, according to Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot Inc.
“The CIO will work with the CEO to fundamentally transform how we communicate, transform the culture, and … work to pull the workforce into the postmodern world,” Halligan said during a panel at the MIT event. “Everything needs to be rewritten, and the CIO will be the one to pull the CEO over that line and help develop the employee workforce of the future, by putting in place critical hardware and software skills that employees need now and five years from now.”
This disruption of the “Old World Order” is taking many shapes. At New York Life Retirement Plan Services, CIO Neal Ramasamy and CEO David Castellani plan to “destroy the desktop” and replace it with smartphones and dumb terminals.
In a conversation about the changing role of IT, Castellani said he envisions a more flexible, self-service computing environment for the workforce of the future — no surprise, considering his background as a co-founder of Mi8, a Software-as-a-Service email and messaging platform provider.
As far as proprietary applications? “Throw them out the windows,” Castellani said in a panel at the MIT event. “They don’t add business value; all they do is create more headaches. Focus on disruptive and aggressive ways to get rid of things like this.”
At Raytheon Co., Chief Information Security Officer Michael Daly and his team are building a private cloud so Raytheon employees and the company’s partners can collaborate in a dynamic environment. The end result will be a new approach to collaboration between and among Raytheon employees and partners to develop products for various government defense branches.
The message from some attendees and panelists at the MIT event was not only that corporate culture had to change to foster the workforce of the future, but also that IT systems and methodologies are the backbone of that culture and workforce. CIOs need to develop transparent, fluid communication environments, with teams that can be spun up and disbanded as needed; and they must be willing to let go of entrenched systems.]]>
The scathing note was in response to my recent story, “Role of CIO increasingly calls for monetizing IT, intellectual assets,” a look at a trend I am hearing about from CIOs, headhunters and analysts. Why so acerbic? I emailed back. He wrote back that he believes the CIO role is “redundant and glorified,” mainly because CIOs fail to live up to the information part of their duties. In his experience, CIOs equate information with IT, failing to take into account the human element in information, in all its “fuzzy logic,” thus fulfilling the role of CTO, not CIO. The complaint bears posting, I believe, as a reminder that the CIO role is ultimately about business outcomes, not product features or technology.
With his permission, here is an excerpt from Richard Ordowich on the role of the CIO.
What I find is that most CIOs know nothing about “information.” Ask a CIO about the information needs of their organization and they’ll tell you about cloud computing, virtualization and business intelligence, not about what information is needed to meet strategic business goals.
I worked with a large insurance company and met with their CEO and asked him what his information needs were and his response was that his CIO told him they needed master data management! Further conversation with the CEO revealed that the company needed increased real-time data to quickly estimate their policy premiums and analyze their risks as claims were filed. The CIO sat there, dumbfounded, and began talking about how they were working on enterprise architecture!
At one of the largest retailers, I reviewed their data governance plan. They focused on master data management, data quality, establishing data stewards, etc. When I asked them about how this was going to improve the information needs of the business and contribute to revenue, they looked like I had asked them for how the world was formed. This was after they had a drink of the Kool-Aid from the pundits online and a LARGE consulting firm, who will go nameless, who told them about their need for data governance!
CIOs typically believe business intelligence is a data warehouse and BI tools. They forget the fact that the intelligence really exists between the chair and the keyboard. They know little about semantics of data (and I don’t mean the semantic web). They know little about assessing the value of data, except when a mistake is made. They think about information only in terms of IT. What about all the information that is exchanged verbally, in reports, around the coffee machine and in written form? How is that information managed — and I don’t mean digitizing it. What flows of information occur outside of the IT environment, between people! …
Have CIOs established best practices for assessing the quality of their BI data and reports? Most reports continue to be generated, day after day, without any formal review process to validate their accuracy.
I subscribe to the Kool-Aid of Nicholas Carr and, more recently, Jaron Lanier’s book, You Are Not a Gadget. I think these should be required reading by all CIOs, and they should be required to do a book report after reading these to make sure they learned something!
Then maybe, I will grant them the opportunity to redeem themselves and truly fill the role as Chief “information” Officer, not Chief IPad officer.
So what do you do when business department heads demand to know why IT requests made several months before are not in place by now?
You could take a page out of CIO Chris Brady’s playbook. All IT requests from business departments at Dealer Services Corp., a Carmel, Ind.-based financer of car dealerships, are funneled to Brady, who in turn enters them in a weekly report that is shared companywide. The requests are rated by IT and business managers, with those deemed more critical to the business placed higher in the queue, she said.
This process allows department heads and users to see where their requests stand and how the requests rank in comparison with others made that week. Department heads meet with IT weekly to discuss, or argue, about why their particular requests are lower or higher than others on the list.
“IT always suffers from the perception that requests go into this giant black hole, that there isn’t a firm timeline for projects and response times aren’t good enough,” Brady said. “We faced that more so this past year than others [because of the economy], but the report shows the departments that we have 2,300 [IT] requests right now, and here’s where your five stand.”
A weekly report is also sent out, listing all requests that have been resolved and added compared with the previous week.
Of course, this comes from a CIO who encourages all employees to email her directly with suggestions on any matter, and what it comes down to is a belief in transparency. Perhaps until IT shares information — such as how many requests it gets per week or a timeline of when it thinks staff will get to a given project — the business may continue to view IT as a black hole.
Email me at email@example.com to let me know if you’re trying to make IT more transparent or other ways you are tackling IT and business alignment.]]>