Top 10 CIO Priorities - InformationWeek
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Top 10 CIO Priorities

Which issues are top of mind, or should be top of mind, for CIOs? Consider this list, gleaned from discussions with scores of U.S. and Indian CIOs, as well as from our own research.

No. 7: Leverage Social Media

Your customers, partners, and suppliers are talking about your company, its processes, and its products on some form of social media, whether that's Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube, or more specialized forums and portals. Companies need to monitor and participate in those conversations, especially with customers. Semantic analysis tools, in particular, can help companies mine that social dialog to shape new product development and upgrades, improve customer service, and refine sales and marketing initiatives.

At the very least, establish a social presence and see what you learn. For example, after introducing a motor bike aimed at girls and young women, TVS Motor, India's third-largest maker of two- and three-wheelers, created a Facebook fan page around the new brand and learned that its female buyers wanted a choice of about 100 colors rather than the standard four or five--so TVS updated its product offering accordingly, says CIO T.G. Dhandapani. Back in the U.S., the Facebook site of girls' clothing retailer Wet Seal has become one of the biggest drivers of its in-store and website traffic, thanks to coupons and other promotions, and its "shop with friends" functionality turns shoppers into buyers at 2.5 times the company's average online conversion rate.

Even though Gartner has listed "social computing" among its top 10 CIO priorities, it isn't so sure companies will succeed with it. Through 2012, the advisory firm predicts, more than 70% of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail as IT organizations "struggle with shifting from providing a platform to delivering a solution."

No. 6: Find The Right People

Ask 10 technology vendor CEOs about their No. 1 priority, and they'll all give you the same answer: finding smart, skilled, talented people, even amid high unemployment. Just look at the battle for talent among industry players Google, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, and Zynga. In India, for instance, Facebook reportedly offered a 21-year-old computer science and engineering major a total compensation package valued at about $145,000, including signing bonus and relocation to the U.S.

Tech skills are hardly in such high demand at the IT shops of most U.S.-based companies. InformationWeek's 2011 IT Salary Survey, the most extensive in the industry, found the median total compensation raise for IT staffers to be just 0.9% this year, 1.9% for managers, indicating a tight job market. Compare those stats with the tech boom of 2001, when the median raise was 8.5% for IT staffers and 9.9% for managers. (Such annual raises are commonplace in India, where annual turnover among IT pros can run 20% or higher at tech companies.)

Still, certain tech skills are in very high demand in the U.S, according to our salary survey. Among managers: enterprise content management, data integration and data warehousing, business intelligence and data analytics, ERP, application development, and application integration. Among staffers, add security and Web infrastructure skills to that mix.

No. 5: Prep For The Post-PC Era

The PC turned 30 this year, and it's already looking ready for the retirement home. When Steve Jobs, the late Apple chairman, called this "the post-PC era" during the company's iPad introductions, he wasn't just tooting Apple's horn--Goldman Sachs estimates that tablets are displacing as many as one in three Windows PC sales. At a recent meeting InformationWeek hosted with top CIOs, they all agreed we're witnessing the slow demise of the PC. Even IBMer Mark Dean, one of the co-developers of the original personal computer, thinks the PC is "going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT, and incandescent light bulbs."

We're seeing a proliferation of complementary, sometimes replacement business computing devices, most of them around the uber-trend of mobility: yes, tens of millions of tablets, led by the iPad, but also myriad iOS, Android, and BlackBerry smartphones loaded with enterprise applications. We're also seeing a proliferation of specialized computing devices in retail, warehousing, transportation, and other industries. We're hearing about general-purpose thin client devices from the likes of Samsung and Acer running Google's Chrome operating system. And we're seeing momentum around desktop virtualization.

Umesh Jain, CIO of YES Bank, the fourth-largest private sector bank in India, says he's close to picking a "desktop as a service" provider to give employees server-based access to gold-, silver-, or bronze-level Windows applications and services, either on company-issued dumb terminals or on their sandboxed personal devices. A BPO company or companies would provide the service to YES on a subscription basis, Jain says. Among the benefits: lower client hardware, security, and power costs.

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User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2011 | 10:01:24 PM
re: Top 10 CIO Priorities
Good review. A few observations: similar to @JerryJohnson, I see cloud and the 80/20 trap as tightly related, and I'd add IT agility to that, too. We're long pat the time when 4 months to provision servers is acceptable, and the ability for the cloud to get developers to work right away on prototyping new solutions is one of the great advantages of cloud computing - even in cases when constraints prevent a cloud deployment in production.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2011 | 7:00:17 PM
re: Top 10 CIO Priorities
Rob, I enjoy this time of year as it rains Top 10 lists. I believe you have hit squarely on the IT best practices we are driving as part of our IT strategic plan at Intel - touching on today's initiatives like cloud, consumerization, security transformation and efficiency along with the some emerging focus areas like business velocity, business intelligence (BI) and workforce transformation.

Each year we publish an Intel IT Performance Report that outlines our CIO prioities and how the organization is responding to create business value. If you are curious, you can find the 2010-2011 report below --> the 2011-12 report will published in January on

Intel IT Performance Report:

Chris, IT@IntelSME
Tony Wessels
Tony Wessels,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/25/2011 | 5:28:39 PM
re: Top 10 CIO Priorities
G«£Thanks for this article, Rob. You give some good insight into what CIOs top priorities should be, and I latched on to your point about aligning IT and business in particular. I think that one important step CIOs need to take in aligning IT with the business is to closely monitor technology adoption among employees. Companies invest millions of dollars in technology, but only achieve maximum benefits and ROI if employees actually use it. In your point about consumerization, you make the argument that the most productive employees are the ones that use the technology they are comfortable with. ShouldnG«÷t this same mindset be applied to enterprise software? CIOs need to take into consideration the comfort employees feel using consumer apps like Amazon and Facebook, and apply it when vetting enterprise software. That way, employees will actually want to use the technology, and the businessG«÷ bottom line will benefit as a whole.G«•
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2011 | 11:15:00 AM
re: Top 10 CIO Priorities
Good to see that the adoption of cloud computing is one of the top ten priorities for IT decision makers, cloud provides cost effectiveness and increased operational efficiencies just viewed an excellent video, Adoption Roadmap , a guide to the cloud @
User Rank: Author
10/21/2011 | 9:24:51 PM
re: Top 10 CIO Priorities
Thanks, Jerry. Indeed, I mention mobile as the uber-trend with regard to post-PC era developments, and mobility certainly is also a big part of the consumerization trend. I think there are several priorities that pervade many trends--information security and system reliability among them--and I would put mobility in that category.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/20/2011 | 8:21:06 PM
re: Top 10 CIO Priorities
What? Mobile didn't make the top ten? Surely it is foundational to collaboration, but possibly implied by consumerization and a post-PC era. My opinion is "cloud" is so overused as to be meaningless now...and it, too, is just one of many means to breaking the 80-20 headlock. So, here's my list, cloud and application rationalization added as sub-bullets to the 80-20, and add mobile with location awareness and imaging as sub-bullets to that.
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