Tuesday, January 29, 2008

That alignment thing

Last week in a gathering of CIOs and IT heads (more on the difference later), the editor of a large magazine talked about the issues that we are grappling with. And like it or not, amongst the top 3 was "Aligning Business & IT" ! While a few in the audience nodded their heads in agreement, this raised a hue and cry with many present. One CIO pointedly asked the question, which industry and segment is facing the issue today in this part of the world (India to be precise).

Most CIOs have evolved in their roles and maturity model (can we categorize them by a scale akin to SEI CMM ?) such that this is no longer an issue. The CIO is today actively involved in taking decisions shoulder to shoulder with other business leaders. The discussion has shifted from which technology to deploy to how does it impact my topline, bottomline and the customer. Despite this transformation, the old flogging horse continues to be flogged even though it's long dead. Or maybe it is not !

My interactions with peers internationally specifically in the western world provides interesting glimpses on where time has stopped for many and they have yet to figure out the evolution curve. Even survey results on strategic IT appear to demonstrate that fewer CIOs are now reporting to their CEOs, which indicates that they have not delivered to their promise. Thus it was heartening to see the strong response back home with CIOs refuting the existence of the digital divide.

I am not offering any magic formulae for curing the nemesis of the CIO, as the cure in almost all cases lies within. The CIO needs to start thinking beyond the terms IT is a given. The CEO and the organization may provide the platform; in most cases, the CIO has to build this brick by brick and earn the coveted position on the management table.

Do you see this problem within your enterprise ? Write in with your magic formula !

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Vendor Feed Forward (not feedback)

I have been inactive for a while, wondering what is it that I should write about. There were a few instances when a burning issue or something I felt about strongly, but that urge passed quickly.

Surprise (not really), corporate blogs are becoming big with companies putting up blogs which talk about their products and services. These use broad based trends to promote their solution and why you as the CIO/decision maker should be running to them to help solve your problem.

After attending a few events in the last 3 months and having been subjected to a barrage of vendor pitches, I wonder why they never learn from their past mistakes ? Almost every event has a technology vendor as a sponsor and by virtue of the money spent, they get a few slots to address the audience.

Guess what do they do with their valuable time ? Talk about their products, which anyway everyone in the audience knows about, wasting precious time which could have been used to engage in a dialogue or seek their participation to explore opportunities. You will find 80% of the audience busy with blackberry phones or doodling away; some brave ones walk out while a few interrupt the speaker with their snores ! And to add to the misery, they want feedback !

So I requested a few organizers to create a forum for feed forward (as opposed to feedback) to help the poor things understand what we want to hear from them. It would be a great service to the IT fraternity if vendors listened and used the information gathered in their planning on what to do with the timeslots.

But then we are not rewarded for going against conventional wisdom. Marketing and Sales organizations will want to make presentations on what they have or will there be wind of change ?