FT : The CIO Agenda For 2008

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Aligning technology with the business, while dealing with the pressure on space and power in the data centre and addressing green issues are the priorities for many chief information officers next year.  Security is now so critical that it automatically figures near the top of every agenda…..A thoroughly unscientific straw poll of CIOs, principally from the US and UK, revealed, nevertheless, that a few other themes come to the fore.  Steve Bozzo, CIO of New York based online florist 1-800-Flowers.com, places business alignment at the top of his list.  “For 2008, as always,” he says, “companies will be most successful if IT is strongly aligned with the businesses it supports” going on to point out that companies must migrate to an “agile” architecture if they are to bring products to market that will have a meaningful impact on earnings and revenue: “Migrating to a Services Oriented Architecture will be the only way to accomplish this.”  This is in line with preliminary findings on 2008 priorities by research firm Gartner, which shows CIOs seeking to focus on aligning IT with growth and innovation.  “Looking at costs is straightforward but prioritising growth and innovation is much more challenging,” says Dave Aron, a Gartner analyst looking at CIO issues.  Guy Lidbetter, chief technology officer for the big European computing services group Atos Origin, agrees, noting that the CIO agenda is being driven by a need for managed innovation.  He emphasises the importance of demonstrating to managers the value that IT investments bring to the business and ensuring IT is agile enough to support changing business needs.  “In the context of infrastructure, standardisation, virtualisation and automation will deliver.  In applications, enterprise architecture, service-oriented architecture and – potentially – Web 2.0 and collaboration will deliver.”  Note how quickly methodologies such as “agility” – developing software in a quicker, less formal way – and “service-oriented architecture” – ways of persuading legacy systems to work with the smart, new stuff – have moved from “might have” to “must have”. 

Bryan Doerr, chief technology officer of Savvis, a US-managed service group, says, however, that to make the most of virtualisation, businesses need to invest in a secure and robust IT infrastructure. He says: “Both vendors and organisations are embracing new, virtualised technologies to yield more flexible and cost effective solutions.  As it continues to mature, I predict it will become less of a differentiator for businesses and more of a commodity.”…..Web 2.0 and social networking may be becoming candidates for the mainstream, although some CIOs have their reservations.  Bob Worrall, for example, CIO of Sun Microsystems, reckons to have talked to well over 100 of his contemporaries over the past year and believes that social networking represents a new threat.  “There is a lot of information out there on blogs and wiki, but there is no easy way to harvest that information and make it available to the organisation” he says…..Brian Jones, a former CIO for both the spirits group Allied Domecq and Scottish Power, says that IT in large companies often grows in an uncontrolled fashion.  “There is often a need to remove the complexity that has grown up over time and set a simplification agenda directly linked to the objectives of the business overall,” he says, arguing that this latter aim can often be lost if the transformation is poorly focused.  He expects pressure on IT costs will not ease and that CIOs will be forced to balance the need for innovation against tightening budgets…..Mr Bandrowczak of Nortel, is using virtualisation and centralisation to get more efficiencies out of the IT assets the company already has and the investments it has already made.  “That’s my first big trend.  Second is how to integrate all these disparate and separate technologies.  One trend I am driving at Nortel is unified messaging, handling voice, text and fax in one mailbox, so it can be retrieved by any device.  Moving between applications causes inefficiencies – I call it business latency.”…..

The CIO agenda, 2008 : CIO priorities, based on Alan Cane’s informal straw poll :
1 Business alignment and strategy
2 Hiring and retaining the best staff
3= IT innovation/new methodologies
3= Security
5 Collaboration technologies
6 Controlling costs
7 Compliance and regulation
8 Virtualisation
9 Customer service
10 Mobility (Green issues came 11th)

Reference : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e7b98a48-a2d3-11dc-81c4-0000779fd2ac.html

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