If expansion was tough to manage, it's nothing compared with rapid retrenchment. "Every day now I call myself the Chief Morale Officer," says Murphy. "We've asked people to do a 180 in terms of what they're doing, from very exciting, cutting-edge stuff to, 'Hey, let's evaluate this process and make sure it's as efficient as it can possibly be.'" Adds Mercer's Fernandes: "CIOs now have an even more critical role, one could argue, because with less funds to go around, they've got to be making some very difficult callslike what to put off or scrub altogether. To get the biggest impact for a reduced level of spending within a given timeframe, the expertise of a CIO is key."
In RC's case, the possible merger with Princess has made that painfully clear. E-mail systems, communications, new-build efforts would be merged, but everything else is uncertain.
Who would run it? Maybe Murphy, maybe not. Williams, isn't saying. (See Thinking Out Loud.) "What we're doing now is trying to maintain a level of sanity," Murphy says. "We're not worrying so much about Princess or their IT shop and what it may mean. We're worrying about what we know todayour business. Furthermore, we're forbidden to speak to anyone over at Princess, so there's nothing practical that comes out of trying to envision something that you have absolutely a vacuum of knowledge on. Besides, nobody believes that four to six months from now anything that we're talking about now will be valid."
Murphy knows that lesson all too well by now. Sink or swim, he's gaining a whole new respect for the art of treading water.
Laura Q. Hughes has covered the travel industry for six years. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Elite Traveler, Crain's New York Business and Fodor's Travel Guides. Comments about this story may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.