Recent events have brought into view the precariousness of our society, its capitalist markets and infrastructure. The terrible earthquake and atomic energy problems in Japan, uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East and the subsequent rise in oil prices have probably done more of late to make everyone realise that energy, and fossil fuels are becoming a luxury item that our continued profligacy with cannot be sustained. In a short few weeks all levels of society are concerned about the use of oil in a way more effective than the environmental campaigns of recent times.
Previous oil crises have brought the best out of people akin to CIOs. The 1973 oil crisis brought about an unheralded focus on efficiency by engineers and this one will probably do the same. Only this time, it will not only be engineers who improve the efficiency of how the west uses Middle Eastern oil, it will be the IT sector and the CIOs that make strategic decisions on its use. Computing has given us a world of measurement and smart technologies that fill our heads and organisations with data that allow better decision making.
Now is the time for CIOs to embrace technologies like building systems that make the most of energy availability, virtualisation and cloud computing can reduce power use. Workforce management tools and smart metering are also now viable technologies that will reduce the costs of your organisation and in turn improve efficiency.
Seize the moment to be doing these projects, not only because we could be witnessing the most drastic change in geo-politics since the fall of the Berlin Wall and Communism, but also because on the back of the recent credit crisis and all the efficiency improvements CIOs made for organisations to help them survive, the board understands the value of the CIO and the innovations they offer. As one CIO said to me this month, a place on the board is always what a CIO should strive for. A strategy that improves operations and cuts costs, especially when those costs are becoming so volatile is surely a way to show the board why you should or are there.