What are the top challenges facing CEOs in 2005? Well, 30 percent of them directly involve IT. At least according to the December issue of Chief Executive magazine, whose top ten CEO challenges include beating the cyber threat, adopting open source technology, and rethinking outsourcing. Each challenge is accompanied by a story.
The tagline for the article Beating the Cyber Threat says, “CEOs must invest in a new generation of IT.” Hurray! But you can pretty much stop reading there, because the article just goes on to list some down-the-road needs for enhanced security (like new infrastructure), and recommends consortia of academics, industry experts and policy makers to handle the R&D and rule-making. The author explains the current patchy nature of security and calls for a more holistic approach. He says, “Security is often considered just ’overhead,’ but if one were able to quantify the economic impact and the ROI for information technology, there would be a lot more justification for building in security in products, services and systems from the very beginning, rather than adding them in later.” (For more on the need to measure the value of security, see sister publication CSO magazine’s articles Value Proposition and How Do You Communicate the Value of Security?.)
The CEO of Novell, Jack Messman, wrote Adopting Open-Source Software. Make of that what you will, because Novell has introduced some open source based services, but he says 2005 will be the year open source comes into its own, because “viable open-source software based on Linux is now becoming widely available to corporate users, both at the server and the desktop level. Choice is returning to information technology. CEOs need to understand this so they can free their chief information officers from Microsoft’s grip.” (See our Analyst Report Is Open Source Appropriate for Your IT Strategy?)
As for Rethinking Outsourcing, it’s not a matter of yes or no, but coming up with new strategies. “Managed competition” is seen as the wave of the future. It sounds rather like the “bestshoring” that Gunjan Bagla writes about in CIO’s current Weigh In column. That is, the best practice is to “match the right type of work to the right provider, select providers that have the strongest track record for execution and focus on outputs versus unit cost inputs,” as Sapient co-CEO Jerry A. Greenberg puts it in Chief Executive.
By the way, the non-IT things on the list include securing America and the world, improving third world health, keeping stability in Korea. . . and other things that make adopting open source software look like a much more do-able item on a to-do list.