Executive Briefs: June 2001
CIOs and senior IT strategists appear to be successfully avoiding widespread, debilitating technology spending cuts throughout their organizations, according to a May CIO Insight survey. The majority of respondents said their organizations had not cut IT expenditures from their original 2001 budget since the beginning of the year. However, companies with more than 1,000 employees were significantly more likely than smaller companies to have experienced reductions and even outright elimination of projects so far this year. Mike Perkowski, head of Ziff Davis Market Experts, also found that the projects most likely to continue receiving funds are the ones that directly support current revenue-generating projects. Meanwhile, projects enhancing employee productivity lagged far behind in funding allocated, especially at larger companies.
The Uncertainty Principle
In the face of an uncertain future, scenario planningthe art of "thinking the unthinkable," as characterized by its inventor, Herman Kahnremains a useful corporate planning tool. Bruce Melzer, a freelance business journalist, finds that the practice of scenario planningrigorously outlining a variety of futures and then planning with a view of such possible futures in mindappears to be in decline in the corporate world, thanks to its difficulty, and a tendency to treat it as a predictive tool, which invariably results in failure. But when used properly, the discipline forces managers to think beyond the confines of ordinary forecasting, allowing them to imagine plausible futures that can significantly affect their business' strategies and investments. The article includes an illustration of how to use scenario planning in information technology by the Wharton School's Paul Schoemaker and Steve Andriole, former chief technology officer of CIGNA.
Managing with Clout
More than ever in today's uncertain economy, CIOs are finding it tough to win support for new technology projects. Making things worse is that even when CIOs can find solid numbers to support their bids for funding, they often fall short in the political skills needed to sell their ideas to those who count most inside the company. Writer Anne Field explores the political terrain that CIOs need to traverse as new, corporatewide e-business initiatives increase the CIO's exposure inside the company, and his or her need to influence others. Field also explains why CIOs need to do a better job educating top managers about the business payoff of new technologies.
William Bratton, Digital Crime Fighter
Six years ago, ex-New York City police Chief William Bratton and his deputy, Jack Maple, developed Compstat, a computer-mapping technology that pinpoints crime patterns. Today, Compstat continues to bear fruitnot only in New York City police precincts, but across the nation. Now New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuiliani wants to use Compstat to boost the performance of inner-city teachers and students. Donna Tapellini, in the first of an occasional series on technology leadership, takes a look at the men behind Compstat, their struggle to win support despite a storm of protest and the lessons that emerged from the journey. She also explores how the technology is taking advantage of the Internet.
Talent Search 2.0
The slowdown in the economy represents a new phase, not the finale, of the IT labor shortage. While some CIOs are having an easier time filling jobs, writes veteran technology journalist Alan Horowitz, perhaps as many as 600,000 openings remain. Furthermore, 78 percent of CIOs at larger companies say that finding qualified staff is as or more difficult than a year ago. IT executives should regard the current economic climate as an opportunity to adjust compensation policies, and many are doing just that by providing bigger bonuses to its top employees while holding back on other compensation. In addition, say experts, companies should create a "total value package" of benefits before the economy recovers and makes the labor market tighter than today. The article includes an interview with former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich.
Plotting a Storage Strategy
Accorging to Dataquest, about 299,344 terabytes of disk storage for corporate networks and servers were purchased in the year 2000. Without question, storage is a major line item for IT budgets. How do you think through a corporate storage strategy? Michael Krieger, vice president of Ziff Davis Market Experts, presents a decision tree that helps CIOs see the options.
Rolling blackouts from electric utilities and sudden bankruptcies by ISPs are leaving companies and their customers vulnerable to suddenly losing access to data and applications. Attorney Michael L. Scott of Perkins Coie LLP explores the legal options available to protect your company.
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