by Mark Raskino and John Mahoney of Gartner

As the economy improves, revisit your resolutions

Apr 07, 2010
CareersIT LeadershipIT Strategy

It is April already, nearly a quarter of the year has passed, where has the time gone? It seems that we’ve only just seen the back of the snow, and we’re hurtling into the second quarter of 2010. It’s a good time to revisit those New Year’s resolutions to see if you’re making progress on what you hoped to achieve this year.

Back in January, we put forward a number of resolutionsfor CIOs. These weren’t the main agenda, rather they constituted a menu of supplemental actions to enable IT leaders to build a balanced set of personal and organisational development goals.

Following a momentous decade for IT, and the financial volatility that the late 90s brought about, we felt that CIOs needed to focus on all the important things that they needed to do in the year ahead, not just on the ones clamouring loudest for their attention on that particular day.

Of course many CIOs have already prioritised their resolutions and are well on their way to delivering on at least some of them, but for those that have fallen a little behind or didn’t quite get started in the first place, here’s a quick recap.

We grouped this year’s resolutions under three people-centric headings, with a tenth resolution about trend-leading technologies:

The following resolutions are for your organisation:

1. Prepare a plan of action for mergers, acquisitions and divestitures The likelihood of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures will increase in 2010 and CIOs must be in a position to respond fast. The first step is to initiate a discussion with your business executive team about the likelihood and nature of M&A activity within your industry in 2010 and 2011 and decide who you would allocate to the project before it arises. Close work will also be required with the CFO to integrate IT M&A project budgets with business operations and financial models. It’s also important to audit architecture and sourcing arrangements for a potential merger.

2. Track and analyse competitor and peer strategies intensely in 2010 Traditional enemies need close tracking, but organisations seeking to lead their industries should also look for friends with radical innovation examples outside their sector that could be adapted or adopted. Create innovation strategy options and outline proposals in advance. This will mean that you’re ready for fast action when and if needed.

3. End the standoff among IT, operational technology (OT), product IT and shadow IT Perhaps the best way to do this is to find one common cause all parties can work on, for example by using a new combined team or governance structure. At the same time, assess the extent of OT, product technology and shadow IT in the organisation and analyse the good and bad factors of IT/OT integration. This will allow you to begin to build overall enterprise architecture for OT, product technology and shadow IT.

Resolutions for your team: 4. Renovate and restate your value model for the IT organisation and the CIO role Stop talking about aligning IT with the business. There is just one strategy and different programmes that deliver that strategy. One of the best ways of redefining responsibilities and value is to start developing an IT scorecard based on contributions to business process change and business process metrics, such as the number of accounts managed per unit of cost. 5. Build non-traditional skills, a human resource (HR) specialist for IT and a succession plan CIOs need to redesign their management and leadership development to align with 2010 realities such as a mobile workforce, network-based communities and persistent attention to cost optimisation. They also need to get ready for the recruitment market to revive in 2010 and develop programmes to retain their critical people as well as building succession plans. An IT HR specialist is best placed to coach you, develop your leadership team and educate the main HR organisation about key issues. 6. Start a complete overhaul of the application portfolio There is little ‘hero status’ to be gained from tackling this immense problem but failure to do so shows a distinct lack of leadership. Gartner‘s advice is to refresh the application catalogue. You can’t manage what you don’t see – too many CIOs still lack an explicit listing of all the business applications they maintain.

Resolutions for you: 7. Build your self-branding and your success list in business and personal terms This is the time to review how you describe and communicate your personal value and personal brand in terms of business and personal success. Begin by listing your accomplishments in 2009 and your targets for the remainder of 2010, looking not only at your role as CIO, but also in your personal, family and community life to really create the right balance. 8. Get a grip on the complexity of your personal goals and problems An expected consequence of the economic and organisational turbulence of the last few years has been the increase in the complexity of workloads. Gartner advises boiling workload goals down to five main topics and building a workplan for each, mapping their interdependencies to ensure that everything remains synchronised and to avoid periods of overload. 9. Break out of the stereotypes of your role and your organisation The role of the CIO is constantly changing, driven by new business demands and technical innovations. How CIOs lead determines their role in the organisation and their future. CIOs must challenge traditional assumptions and ask ‘why’ at least twice in every meeting, persisting until they uncover the underlying root causes and benefits in business terms. 10. Get hands-on with trend-leading technologies in 2010 As CIO, being without a view on trend-leading technologies is not an option. Technology insight can stimulate new ideas and new business opportunities. Every year, Gartner offers a shortlist of technologies that we think CIOs should deliberately set aside time to see or experience for themselves. For 2010 they are: Google Wave, Augmented Reality, Mobile Robotics, Sentiment Analysis, Carbon Footprint Management, Pico Projector Phones.

All of these are significant matters that tend to get less attention because they’re long-term issues without deadlines, hidden or difficult and diffuse. However, they are extremely important and the earlier you can address them, the better the outcome, even if you are only getting round to looking at them in March. In fact, addressing at least half of them in 2010 will create an outstanding CIO performance.