We're Listening

Because customer feedback is a powerful thing

This year, I'm spending a lot of time on the road meeting with CIOs in their offices. So much is changing in business right now, and it's hard to get a feel for what's really going on from my perch overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike in Framingham.

In one meeting a few months ago, I asked the CIO of a large company on the West Coast what more we at CIO could do for her. This was someone at the top of her game. She has great alignment with the other business leaders in her company, a high-performing senior leadership team in IT, excellent project management discipline, impressive metrics surrounding everything she does. I asked the question because I ask it of everyone. But I asked it not really expecting to get much back—I mean, what more could she need?

"You know what I'd really love?" she asked. "I'd love it if you could bring me examples of people doing things that take less than three months to implement and that have a payback of a year or less."

Thus was born "Quick Wins," our cover story (by Senior Editor Kim S. Nash). Kim's story profiles five quick wins, but there's lots more out there. We'll be collecting and sharing those in an ongoing series as long as the economic downturn lasts.

What's interesting about this particular slump is that a lot of people are not responding to it in a traditional way. Bruce Rogow, a very smart guy who also spends a lot of time on the road meeting with CIOs in his "CIO Odyssey" visits, put it this way in a recent conversation: "CIOs are saying, 'Recession? I don't have time for no stinking recession.'" They're living in a world of "double or die," he says. They have to double the capabilities IT provides to the business, and they're not getting much, if any, increase in their budgets to deliver it.

That money has to come from somewhere, and IT executives are finding a way. On one of my last trips, CIOs were talking about how they're shifting capability while keeping spending flat. One airline industry exec said that six years ago the split was 70 percent on baseline, or "run the business" spending, and 30 percent was for new investment. Today they've almost completely turned that around, to 40/60. That's pretty incredible.

Have you found a way to get some quick wins this year? Let me know about it and we may feature your company in an upcoming issue of CIO.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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