CIOs Uncensored: IT's New Agenda: Cut Off Nose, Spite Face
Budgets were trending upward, but recession worries may have put the kibosh on that.
It's the economy, stupid! Those words never rang truer than today. PricewaterhouseCoopers released the results of its annual CEO survey last month, and fear of a recession topped the list of business concerns, surpassing energy supply, climate change, and terrorism. Last week, VMware, the darling of Wall Street, took a stock hit on fears of an IT pullback. So, what does all this mean for CIOs? I don't know, but I might imagine scenarios like this playing out across the country:
CFO: Thanks for dropping by. You may have read about problems in the economy these days.
CIO: Yeah, I think I heard something about that on the news.
CFO: The bottom line is this: I'm getting considerable pressure from up top to reduce expenses across the board. Your organization was one of the first places I thought of.
CIO: I'm flattered. Funny thing is, I was about to ask for a cash investment. I'm convinced that if we upgrade our technology infrastructure and application portfolio, we can reduce our overall spending on IT considerably.
CFO: Spend money to save money? That's last year's thinking. This year it's cut, cut, cut.
CIO: Easier to remember.
CFO: Is there anything we can pull the plug on immediately? What about that virtual serverization project you've been talking about so much?
CIO: You mean server virtualization? There's up-front cost, but we've had good results with our initial tests and if we expand the strategy we'll save a considerable amount by consolidating hardware and freeing up CPU resources. Did you see the memo I sent on that?
CFO: My executive assistant read it. She wasn't all that impressed.
CIO: I'll see if I can punch it up.
CFO: What about head count? Can't we eliminate a few of the weaker performers?
CIO: Those people are long gone. We're spread pretty thin--we've had open positions for months, there are projects we can't get to, and everyone is working overtime. Morale is already low.
CFO: Can we outsource more?
CIO: Sure, but the cost savings there are evaporating quickly.
CFO: Anything on the security front?
CIO: The expression "asking for trouble" comes to mind.
CFO: What about these so-called "green" initiatives? Aren't they a bit, you know, superfluous?
CIO: At first glance, maybe. However, a new cooling system in the data center alone will lower our power consumption enough to pay for itself in six months.
CFO: Sounds like that "spend to save" strategy again. You've got to get out of that mind-set.
CIO: I'm trying. One place we could cut is by putting off that migration to Windows Vista. It's going to require a considerable investment to upgrade our PCs and rewrite our applications, and we can get by just fine with Windows XP.
CFO: Now you're talking! Wait a minute, isn't the old man on the board of some charity organization with Bill Gates? No, I don't think that's going to go over too well up top.
5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
This inaugural episode of Business Matters explores the subject of leadership with former Air Force Brigadier General John Michel, the Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer and President of MV International.