From the CEO: The Next Big Land Grab Is Business Process

CIOs can raise their business-value quotient by taking ownership

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Wed, May 25, 2011

CIO — It is amazing to me how much we talk about business process when in reality we understand very little about it.

On Amazon.com, there are more than 22,000 books dedicated to countless methodologies for mapping, modeling or managing business process. With all that knowledge loose in the world, you’d think we’d know more about the topic.

Yet in recent conversations with CIOs, it is quite apparent that this area is still a murky one, where ownership within the senior ranks of the enterprise is still up for grabs. As our collective vision of the infrastructure and operational elements of IT continues to sharpen, it strikes me that CIOs’ next big land grab will be in this space.

Why? Well, there is a ton of efficiency still left to find in this area, and IT leaders will quickly see two things arriving on this politically charged battlefield.

First, as technology becomes more deeply ingrained in every aspect of business, CIOs and their IT organizations are getting much more involved in the strategy, implementation and execution of the essential disciplines that run the business.

Second, and probably most important, is that savvy line-of-business executives see this trend coming and are starting to stake claims to what they own versus what you are asked to implement.

Now the core issue—and where this gets rather exciting (and a bit dicey)—is the fact that few line-of-business executives actually understand the entire process. They simply do not have the CIO’s helicopter view of overall business operations.

Sure, they know where they want to start and what results they want to see in the end. But do they really understand everything from A to Z? Not likely. So this is where you can raise your business-value quotient, as the CIO job relies on understanding it all.

If you want to automate any business process, you have to know it like the back of your hand. And it’s this depth of understanding that will ultimately deliver more influence to the CIO position.

Ownership of business process is there for the taking. It is now just a matter of execution.

And that, my friends, is your core expertise.

Michael Friedenberg is the president and CEO of CIO magazine's parent company, IDG Enterprise. Email him at mfriedenberg@cio.com.

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