Global CIO: The Top 10 CIO Issues For 2011 - InformationWeek

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Commentary
1/9/2011
06:23 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: The Top 10 CIO Issues For 2011

Blazing performance, the Chief Acceleration Officer, hybrid clouds, optimized systems, The iPad Explosion, analytics, and others lead our list of CIO priorities or 2011.

#9: The Importance Of Being Global. How much time did you spend with customers outside the U.S. in 2010: will that number go up or down this year? How much time did you spend with your development and R&D teams around the globe in 2010: what did you learn? What did you apply? What patterns are you seeing in how different types of opportunities are emerging in different cultures, and how corporate strategy has to take those into account? Conversely, which of your team's processes and models have be be rigorously uniform in every country in which you do business, with zero variation? How will those dynamics change in the coming year? Do you feel your team is a a U.S.-based team with representatives around the globe, or are you a truly global IT organization drawing on unique strengths and capabilities from each country? Would your CEO agree with your assessment? While always important, these issues of global engagement and global capabilities will be more important in 2011 than ever before because in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive world, top-performing companies will be relentlessly wringing the best ideas from the best people, regardless of their locations: can you keep up?

#8: The CIO As Chief Acceleration Officer. Does your company move as fast as its customers and prospects? And if not, how can you expect to be able to compete? What about unacceptably long levels of latency in product development, launch of marketing campaigns, or ramp-up of production lines—could faster information flow, and better access by the right people to the right information, wring out a lot of that latency? If that's not the responsibility of the CIO in 2011, then whose responsibility is it? Every CEO and LOB head I spoke with in the second half of 2010 said that speed of operations, speed of design, speed of execution, and speed to customer value are among their top priorities this year because customers expect, want, and need that type of rapidly accelerating access to products, services, information, and opportunities. So for CIOs: how would your CEO rate your contributions to speeding up the business? Would you grade out as a high-performing Chief Acceleration Officer? Are you prepared to enhance that evaluation in 2011?

#7: Enabling The Massively Adaptable Data Center. Let's see: you're juggling private clouds with some emerging hybrid clouds while transforming your traditional data centers, and then you're got the big vendors all over you with visions of hell if you pick the wrong side in the Stack Wars (consolidate around one vendor and gain end-to-end compatibility and simplicity, or maximize heterogeneity to weave together the best of all worlds?), and on top of that you've got to make a call on these big honkin' new highly engineered systems from IBM and SAP and Oracle and HP and others, and determine where/how/if they fit into those complex data-center strategies. Meanwhile, you've got to be crafting future plans around the massively mobile world swirling around us. In the midst of all that, the only certainty is that your business's ability to compete is tied very closely to your ability to get this volatile blend right in 2011.

#6: Customer Engagement Soars To Unprecedented Levels. As if it weren't already tricky enough to get all the far-flung pieces of your own organization to work together harmoniously, securely, and collaboratively, 2011 will see a huge acceleration in customers demanding to be more intimately involved in product design, supply-chain synchronization, technical support, roadmap planning, joint opportunities, and scheduling optimization. Once again, while this new challenge has to be embraced by all members of the executive team, the CIO is absolutely indispensable in moving this from a daunting and unfamiliar prospect to a source of unique and potentially enduring competitive advantage. From collaboration tools to security and privacy policies to social-media innovations and governance issues, the CIO stands in an ideal spot to make a significant positive impact on these game-changing possibilities. But nobody's going to ask you if you "want a seat at the table"—you'll either have proven you're capable and be actively engaged in the discussion already, or you'll be reassigned to the infrastructure-maintenance team. Again, 2011 will be the make-or-break transitional year for CIOs.

#5: Social Media: From Grudging Acceptance To Hair-On-Fire Evangelism. I hardly think we need to engage once more in the debate about whether social-business tools are productivity killers or wildly effective business tools—rather, the issue for CIOs in 2011 is how aggressively and assertively they and their IT teams are charging to the forefront of business opportunity and organizational change to make social tools not just permissible but indispensable. Beyond the tools themselves, how about clear and compelling ways to measure the effectiveness of various types of social applications? Or social centers of excellence—are you leading or following on initiatives like this? How about skill sets within the IT team: do you have some passionate young folks on your team who think and behave natively in social dynamics and can help you and the entire IT organization learn how to effectively create tools and capabilities to gain greater understanding of customer sentiment, untapped opportunities, and marketing innovation? Are you and your team extending those analytical capabilities back into ERP systems, financial systems, personnel-evaluation systems, and cross-functional discussions? In 2011, if you're not seen as being a rapid promoter of social tools, then by default you'll be seen as an obstacle to their propagation—and this year, such obstacles will find themselves rapidly transformed into roadkill.

#4: Digitize The Enterprise. Earlier, we mentioned supply chains: what about IT-driven extensions of that idea like Intelligence Chains, Opportunity Chains, and Engagement Chains? As your company relies ever more heavily on the flow of timely information to the right people in the right forms, are you devoting as much time and energy to the synchronization of the movement and enhancement and redistribution of that information as you are to the movement of your company's physical goods and assets? Who "owns" this emerging capability? Regardless, the CIO is, once again, in an ideal spot to take a lead role in making it a reality. If you and your CEO sat down for a couple of hours and evaluated just how digitized your enterprise currently is, what percentage do you think you'd come up with: 50%? 70%? 90%? If the answer's anything less than 100%, is that acceptable? And shouldn't the CIO—you know, the Chief Information Officer--be the out in front in the effort to Digitize The Enterprise and thereby help accelerate and enhance decision-making, reduce cost, eliminate latency, and help your whole organization get closer to customers and prospects?

Next up, the iPad Explosion:

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