News
Commentary
1/24/2003
01:10 PM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
Repost This

Influencer Visions: A Question Of Balance

If companies work hard and tap their talented people, Robert Rubin says, they can achieve success this year.

Maturity changes our burning priorities, and age dampens our youthful expectations. Likewise, time alters what industries view as their strategic imperatives for coping with the future. Information technology, so recently seen as the engine of productivity in this country, has gone through nearly three years of a deepening downturn that has resulted in layoffs and major trauma for the participants. As we enter 2003, we utter the same sentiments as when we began 2002: "Surely, things have to be better this year."

It was only three years ago that retaining key personnel ranked as one of the greatest worries voiced by CIOs. Now, a lot of good people are having trouble getting jobs, and CIOs fret over whether there's enough money in the budget to keep the business operational until profits improve. Many people, including me, believe it'll be a long time before we see anything like the heady days of 1999 and 2000, when money flowed at the mere mention of the words "innovation" and "competitive advantage."

I don't know whether a year from now we'll be in the midst of a grand recovery or, against all our fervent desires, mired in an ugly economic double dip. I do know, though, that we'll face problems and, as in the past, conquer them if we work hard enough and use the talented people around us. Hopefully, as we do so, we won't lose sight of the qualities that made the IT organization a place where exciting and meaningful work is done and where individuals are promoted and compensated based on merit.

In my years in this industry, I've found the IT organization, more than other groups in a company, to be a technical meritocracy. We cared little about the color of someone's skin or a person's gender. What counted was the ability to get the job done. In every company for which I've worked, the IT department had the best balance of diversity--and innovation--around the place. The individuals in IT had their problems with each other, and sometimes the politics stank, but on the whole people worked together as a team, excited by the technology and the opportunity to make a difference for the enterprise.

I just hope that as we face the future, and the hard decisions we'll have to make in 2003, we don't lose that wonder and freshness that has brought us so far, so fast.

Robert Rubin is the former CIO of Elf Atochem.

Search for more articles in InformationWeek about this author:

Do tech stars like Michael Dell, Steve Ballmer, and Carly Fiorina see the future clearly? Check out what our complete panel of 32 visionaries have to say here.

Columns By Other Industry Influencers

Randolph Blazer, chairman and CEO of BearingPoint Bradford Brown, chairman of the National Center for Technology & Law at George Mason University School of Law
Bob Evans, Editor-in-Chief of InformationWeek Jim Hatch, formerly CIO at Pactiv
Robert Rubin, former CIO of Elf Atochem William Schaff, chief investment officer at Bay Isle Financial LLC

Is the author right? Or out in left field? Have your say on this column and the rest of our Future Visions package at informationweek.com/forum/informationweek

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Agile Archive
The Agile Archive
When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Government, May 2014
Protecting Critical Infrastructure: A New Approach NIST's cyber-security framework gives critical-infrastructure operators a new tool to assess readiness. But will operators put this voluntary framework to work?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.