Tech Smarts Still Matter

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 08-05-2009 Print Email

Tech Smarts Still Matter

Still, at its core, "doing more with less" could come down to employing the right IT tactics.

That doesn't mean CIOs need to drill down on the technical details of particular technologies; instead, they need to make the right decisions on what IT capabilities or improvements to pursue--or ignore.

Instead of swinging a lofty ax, some CIOs have found success focusing on smaller technology revamps that add up to big savings.

For example, Cora Carmody, CIO of Jacobs Engineering, has seen huge cost savings in transforming something few think about: printing. By forcing offices to print double-sided, Carmody and her team helped save Jacobs several millions of dollars.

Jim Milde, an executive vice president with the consulting firm Keane and a former CIO with Sony Electronics and Pepsi Bottling, sees customers doing things such as consolidating more of their infrastructure to cut costs, as well as optimizing their sourcing contracts, application maintenance and hardware.

Those are all solid targets for helping the business. But the possibilities could be endless, and weeding through those possibilities presents a challenge.

Milde boils it down to two steps. "CIOs need to look at how their teams can develop applications more effectively; then, how they can optimize those investments," Milde says. "We're continuing to see more opportunities in finding ways to be more efficient."

At the same time, though, Milde doesn't see any "killer" multiyear technology projects that will transform the business. Those have been slowed to a halt, he says, though tactical improvements in areas including business intelligence and data warehousing are delivering results in many companies.

When all is said and done, blending a strategic business focus with the right IT decisions could be what separates the CIO wheat from the chaff. Put those skills together, says Vincent Cirel, CIO of Norwegian Cruise Line, and you'll become a true partner: "A CIO has to become the internal, go-to expert consultant for every functional head in the organization to help them execute, innovate and enable strategy more efficiently with the right technology."

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