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4/1/2009
12:04 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: What CIOs Must Do To Survive The Recession

The old ways are gone forever -- CIOs must adapt to a new environment fully engaged with operations, customers, and revenue generation.

So what then will these new-wave CIOs do? I'd suggest that their very first initiative should be to write a "New IT Manifesto" to the entire organization that offers the following:

1) Replaces the name IT Dept. with Business Technology and Customer Innovation Center, reflecting the new marketplace realities and your new focus. Yes, actions mean much more than words, but employees want to be led and they want to know you've got a powerful and exciting vision -- plus, committing to an ambitious objective like this will force your team to really stretch.

2) Commits to lowering the 80/20 ratio this year to 70/30 and next year to 60/40 so that your new team can be a better partner in driving innovation. A great way to gain the unwavering support of the business-unit leaders is to help fund their key projects -- and currently that money's tied up unproductive maintenance.

3) Tells the company about the metrics by which your performance is tracked. (I'd suggest less about uptime and more about customer engagements.) Includes a comment from the CEO outlining his specific expectations for you and your team in the coming year. If you want to go from being "that CIO's interesting, but what does she really do?" to "that CIO is in the middle of everything important at this company," people need to understand what your priorities and motivations are.

4) Describes in detail how your team and its performance will be measured and perhaps rewarded: revenue growth, profits, 80/20 reduction, customer engagements, accelerating product development, market share. Tells the company that internally oriented metrics will still be tracked but will be subservient to these external issues. If your team realizes it's being measured against company-wide targets -- if they get some skin in the game -- you've then unlocked the enormous power of enlightened self-interest.

5) Outlines how you and your team will work with LOBs and operating groups: what commitments you have made to them, and how those commitments will be measured. Achieving this will represent a huge step toward eliminating corporate silos that not only serve ultimately to isolate IT but also stifle innovation.

6) Overhauls the titles in your organization: Isn't it about time to replace inscrutable jargon like "Senior IT Specialist Class 2" with real-world titles like "Claims-Processing Optimization Leader"? New expectations, new performance metrics, and new titles that reflect the company's business will make a huge impact on morale.

7) Assigns BT leaders to work with sales leaders to establish IT sponsors for key clients.

8) Creates a simple and clear online dashboard, open to everyone in the company, that tracks project status, priorities, progress versus metrics, and all other tangible commitments your team has made.

9) Sets up a skills-enhancement program that allows high-potential members of your team and other teams around the company to rotate through various departments to better understand the company's core end-to-end processes.

10) Establishes the Web 3.0 Innovation lab for exploring ways that dynamic new consumer technologies can drive business value. This team should include a mix of Gen Y folks who are experts with these technologies as well as some more-seasoned folks with rich understandings of the company's operations and customers.

This quick-hits list is, of course, just a start -- the real heavy lifting will come as you work through with your CEO the terms and conditions of your newly defined CIO position. The truly important message is that there is no alternative universe in which to park yourself until all the turmoil has passed, and there's no reversing course -- the global recession has made that a certainty.

But the other certainty is that, as we've pointed out recently in Global CIO, this upheaval presents CIOs with a superb opportunity to accelerate some much-needed changes that were inevitable, and while today's environment is difficult in multiple respects, it also provides talented and courageous CIOs with unprecedented chances to make a huge impact on their businesses, their customers, and their teams. Don't become part of the fossil record -- make the leap.

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at bevans@techweb.com.

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