Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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8/3/2009
08:18 AM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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JPMorgan Chase CIO Chiarello On Innovation

JPMorgan Chase CIO Guy Chiarello is, simply put, one of the world's top business-IT leaders. When he shares insight into IT strategy, it's time to put down the BlackBerry and listen. His advice on innovating through a downturn: Focus on IT infrastructure.

JPMorgan Chase CIO Guy Chiarello is, simply put, one of the world's top business-IT leaders. When he shares insight into IT strategy, it's time to put down the BlackBerry and listen. His advice on innovating through a downturn: Focus on IT infrastructure.Infrastructure Innovation is the theme of the top story in InformationWeek's current all-digital issue (available for free download.) It's a storyline that emerged as we talked with CIOs and again and again heard of smart IT teams such as JPMorgan Chase's using this recession as the chance to refine their own operations.

Chiarello's insights, which he shared with InformationWeek's Mary Hayes Weier, cut to the strategic essence. Now is the time--like past downturns over his decades on Wall Street--to put a foot "all the way down on the pedal" for IT infrastructure improvements and innovations. During growth periods, IT teams must emphasize tech that helps bring in new customers and tap new markets, he says. Now is when they have the time, and the bargaining leverage with hard-pressed vendors, to get infrastructure ready for when the economy improves.

This isn't an IT spending bender. Chiarello's team faces "tremendous pressure" on its IT budgets, and the other companies in our article describe a similar environment.

Starbucks, after years of a relentless focus on growth, is getting its IT house in better order. A hard look at its PCs found some so old they'd be cheaper to replace--and thousands that weren't being used at all and could be reassigned.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center has undertaken "project S"--slashing spending on growth IT spending 70%, and pouring resources into stability of IT systems, including implementing infrastructure management software.

I took a clear lesson from reading about the aggressive infrastructure strategies of Chiarello and other leaders. IT teams that spend this downturn standing pat, doing nothing but eking by, are in trouble. Their peers have been innovating.

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