Shifting Priorities

CIOs face some big challenges in the year ahead

The economy is causing us to reexamine our priorities. CIOs have a pretty extensive list of critical issues to manage, and while they have been shuffled around a bit, it seems that they are falling into four buckets.

Globalization: No matter how bad business gets, "the world is flat" and CIOs are focused on making their global operations run more smoothly. The ability to connect, communicate and collaborate across the globe in a seamless manner is no less a priority now than it was 60 or 90 days ago. Customers and suppliers all want to work with you in a real-time environment on a global basis.

Transformation: Automating business processes, digitization, sustainability, imaging and e-discovery are just a few examples of business initiatives that are gaining the attention of the CIO as further cost efficiencies are required. No matter what the economic condition, these initiatives will require your attention in the year ahead.

IT modernization: As Baby Boomers begin to retire (hopefully they still can) and companies contemplate further standardization, the theme of IT modernization is coming up more and more. Gartner recently stated that this is a top priority because IT systems and services lack the agility to respond to business requests for change. Increasing integration among portfolios, growing obsolescence of deployed assets and a skills crisis throw fuel on the fire. I can see why this is hitting your list.

Innovation and risk mitigation: Businesses that have the ability to balance these two priorities during a difficult economic climate are going to be the ones that will rise to the top when the dust settles. In a recent column by CIO Editor in Chief Abbie Lundberg, Dave Olverson, director of IT and blogger of TechyPundit.com, states, "No risk means no innovation. The trick is to embrace the risk and actively manage it because not doing so means stagnation." At the same time, one must make sure that the proper amount of risk is being taken and measured to hopefully ensure some level of success. Finding the right balance between these two takes a bit of art and science.

I am sure that your list is much longer than this, but if you are able to make headway on these four big issues in the next 12 months, you will have had a very successful year.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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