CIOs face multiple competing factors for their time, resources and attention. CIOs need to choose in 2009, as they do not have luxury of doing everything for everyone. CIOs also face a challenge in how do they organize and marshal the energies and resources of their people. In other words, what should the theme be for IT in 2009 and beyond?
CIOs have a choice in how they define their focus. They can concentrate on internal operations and costs in an effort to “protect IT.” Or, they can achieve cost reduction by raising enterprise effective—changing business processes, applications and IT in ways that sustain performance improvements and recognize the evolving market and customer needs.
Both require the same type of hard work. Holding the line on current costs requires discipline and focus. Transforming the enterprise to raise effectiveness requires that same discipline, as well as measured innovations in products, services and management processes.
The answer seems clear based on the 2009 CIO Survey of more than 1500 enterprises. Enterprise effectiveness is the path to creating value and enterprise effectiveness requires IT effectiveness. The figure below illustrates the connections at a macro level.
As the enterprise becomes more or less effective so does IT. Enterprise effectiveness drives or creates the environment for IT to be effective. Only one in 10 CIOs see their IT organization as more effective than the enterprise. Because the enterprise and IT are so closely connected in this respect, CIOs can take steps to raise the effectiveness of both and in the process establish IT as part of the engine that drives enterprise success.
Focusing on effectiveness makes sense in this environment of volatility and uncertainty where the company cannot control or count on stability in markets, customers or competitors. In this environment, making sure that you are building your ability to achieve your current financial and operations goals means taking control of the only thing you can control – your enterprise.
The good news is that effectiveness pays off for the enterprise and IT. Its clear, measurable, and you can explain it to your business peers. So leading IT in turbulent times is either a game of IT budget limbo – how low can you go, or its mission to restructure the enterprises to raise its effectiveness. You choose.