By Eric Nee
The economy is on the mend, and by all accounts, tech spending will rise this year. But that's no reason to start throwing money around, says columnist Eric Nee. There are still plenty of reasons for CIOs to resist boosting IT budgets, hiring more IT employees and launching speculative new projects. First, the economic recovery may not be as strong or as long-lasting as it seems. Second, the smart CIO will be looking to get a jump on the competition by keeping the belt tight. Some suggestions: Keep staffing costs low, consolidate servers and don't replace all those PCs.
Mindshare: Team CIO
By Darwin A. John
Now that information technology has become ubiquitous and strategic, the job of a CIO is not just difficult and complexit has become overwhelming. According to veteran CIO Darwin A. John, in his first column for CIO Insight, the role has become larger than one person can handle. The result: CIOs spend so much time responding to immediate needs that they can't focus on the future. The solution? Change the model for IT leadership. Divide the CIO's responsibilities and share them among several IT executives, each with a clearly defined role as well as a distinct perspective and set of skills.
Expert Voices: John McKinley You've Got Problems
With Jeffrey Rothfeder
Once high-flying America Online Inc. is still suffering from the turmoil of the Time Warner acquisition, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into advertising practices and the departure of founder Steve Case. Turning it around will mean stemming the decline in subscribers and putting together a viable broadband strategy. In this month's Expert Voice, Contributing Editor Jeffrey Rothfeder challenges AOL's chief technology officer, John McKinley, who built his reputation as a technology strategist by successfully bringing Merrill Lynch into the online world, to describe how he plans to put AOL on a solid footing again. The answer: by offering subscribers the most complete Internet experience available.
By Janet Rae-Dupree
99 Cents Only Stores thrives in a very specific retailing niche: Everything it sells is priced at 99 cents. Yet the company's deep-discount roots hide a sophisticated and highly efficient IT infrastructure that helped it earn $863 million in sales in 2003, up 21 percent over 2002, while spending less than $5 million on IT. This case study, by technology journalist Janet Rae-Dupree, analyzes the company's cutting-edge warehouse and in-store technology in the context of a frugal management culture.
Research: The Future of IT
By the editors of CIO Insight
The future looks bright according to the 751 IT executives we surveyed for this month's CIO Insight research study. In the coming year, they expect to be responding to a renewed emphasis on revenue-producing strategies on the part of the business units they serve, even as they maintain their efforts to cut costs. Looking out five years, they see a business environment that is not radically different from the world they work in today. The real-time enterprise, they say, is on the way, globalization will come slowly, and technology will not have made the world much more secure.
Whiteboard: Business by Design
By Gary A. Bolles
Without a clear understanding of critical business requirements, any attempt to articulate strategic IT plans is doomed. That's why companies need a clearly structured enterprise architecture to help define business goals and processes. Once that "business architecture" is widely agreed on, IT can then begin defining the information needed to support business requirements and the IT infrastructure needed to support the creation and management of that information. This whiteboard offers a nine-step outline of architecture planning synthesized by Contributing Editor Gary A. Bolles from a variety of enterprise architecture approaches and frameworks. It describes an approach that focuses on fleshing out the business architecture for a single business unit, then extending it to the entire enterprise.
Strategic Technology: Enterprise Architecture
By Gary A. Bolles
Too often, people think of IT architecture as simply making sure the company has the right networking equipment. At its best, however, enterprise architecture brings consistent discipline to the process of defining how technology enables business strategy. When done right, says Contributing Editor Gary A. Bolles, enterprise architecture can be a critical component of IT alignment, ensuring that changes in organizational goals are regularly reflected in strategic and tactical plans. The trick is to sift through the discipline's various approaches and fix on one that best fits your organization.