Analyst firm Gartner today unveiled a preview of its annual ‘CIO New Year Resolutions’, advising CIOs what to ‘start, do more of, stop as well as learn’ in 2007.
Challenges including the pace of change and consumer awareness will drive this year’s resolutions, which are designed to help CIOs create more value for their business and differentiate their own performance from that of their peers.
“2007 will see mounting demand for business growth and agility, rapid development of consumer technology and increasing availability of new infrastructure tools, at the same time as the evolution of the IT organisation continues to pick up pace,” said John Mahoney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “This will require CIOs to have a fairly ambitious list of ‘new year resolutions’ for 2007, in addition to the big main agenda projects that other people depend on them to deliver in a timely way.”
Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner fellow added: “2007 will bring some genuinely new puzzles that CIOs must solve for themselves or risk ‘following the rest of the herd over the cliff’.”
Gartner’s advice on what CIOs should START in 2007 includes:
1. Create an IT leadership generation succession plan
2. Track and improve the environmental performance of your IT
3. Identify, enable and provide incentives for true innovators
As the baby boomer generation, born 1946-1964, start to retire en masse, IT departments will lose wisdom and leadership. According to Gartner, this also presents an opportunity to clear out some 'dead wood'; for example people that were over-promoted in the early days of IT and some out-dated attitudes stifling progressive thought.
Raskino said: “Don’t assume the next generation of IT leadership should look the same as the last. Identify your best generation X people born in the 60s and 70s, then start giving them challenging projects and operational responsibilities to complete their experience. Bear in mind that future IT management will need skill traits more common amongst women, people with experience from multiple disciplines, business skills and proven change management success.”
In addition, identifying individuals with the creativity, ability and a determination to overcome corporate inertia and take new ideas to action is paramount for IT to deliver business innovation. In a poll at the Gartner Symposium this autumn, 80% of respondents said this is a priority, however, only 20% had a systematic innovation program in place.
Mahoney highlighted that climate change, whether real or a widespread perception, is a strategic discontinuity which enterprises, their IT organisations and IT vendors must respond to. “CIOs need to make sure they get their own house in order by setting targets for IT's contribution to electrical efficiency, recycling, travel reduction and equipment lifecycle management,” he said. “They should also add environmental sustainability to their list of equipment, services and vendor selection criteria.”
Gartner’s advice on what CIOs should do MORE of in 2007:
4. Help HR become strategic
5. Improve frontline business experience
6. Re-establish visibility of total enterprise spend on technology
Social networks, collaboration, remote working, collective intelligence and web 2.0; the range of socio-technical phenomena allowing people to interact, create value and contribute it in new ways is changing fast. This will transform the nature of business organisation, labour supply, rights and responsibilities.
According to Mr Mahoney, “If marketing was the department to partner with in the first wave of Internet transformation, HR is the function to get on-side as the second Internet ‘revolution' washes across your bows. The global talent wars of the next few years will depend on the ability to absorb and exploit revolutionary technical change. CIOs should expect to face a lack of comprehension from the HR department in 2006, however, his or her challenge is to overcome that.”
CIOs should also consider a scheme to get the IT leadership team into frontline jobs for at least one week each year to experience the daily realities of how the business operates. Over time, this transforms the business’ perception of the IT organisation's commitment and reveal powerful new insights on issues like system utilisation and change management priorities.
Gartner’s advice on what CIOs should STOP DOING in 2007:
7. Returning savings from cost efficiencies
8. Treating IT governance as procedure
9. Obsessing about the minutiae of technology
CIOs have become masters at managing and reducing IT costs. While sometimes essential, Mahoney warned it has become damaging to longer term strategies for growth and leads to under-investment in infrastructure.
He said: “We recommend that CIOs tag savings from one area, for direct application in another. Be specific; ‘savings made from server consolidation will be used to upgrade sales force laptops in quarter three’. Start reporting regularly on business value delivered for completed projects and make simplification a mantra. This isn't the same as cutting IT costs, it means redesigning business processes for less complex and expensive systems.”
Raskino added: “CIOs also need to lead by example and stop the organisation repeatedly discussing technology minutiae. All the noise around Microsoft Vista is a good example. Make your decision about a technology and then stop debating it. Too many IT organizations waste energy in endless discussion loops, distracting attention from far more important issues.”
Garner’s advice on what CIOs should learn in 2007:
10. Get 'hands on' with new trend-leading technologies
Immediate priorities often prevent IT leaders from taking time to experience new trend-leading technologies for themselves. This often means they can't create the concrete business benefits that these imaginative possibilities stimulate. Mahoney highlighted the following technologies to get 'hands-on' with in 2007:
o 3D printing
o Social information analysis tools
o Newer high-level programming languages
o Virtual communities
Raskino added: “To avoid getting hijacked in meetings and corridors, CIOs need to form their own view of these emerging technologies”.
In summary he said: “Just like losing weight, giving up smoking and reviewing your pension – there are some important things in IT leadership without deadlines that never quite seem to get done. Set them as 2007 resolutions before it’s too late.”