Executive Briefs: February 2003
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Expert Voices: Paul Romer
With Edward H. Baker
Thanks to his role as the originator of the New Growth Theory, a key tenet of which holds that economic progress is dependent on advances in technology, the work of Paul Romer, who teaches economics at Stanford University's business school, was taken up as part of the theoretical basis for the New Economy. In this interview, Romer reflects on what was temporary and what was permanent about the Internet boom of the late 1990s, why the economy is not in as dire a situation as many make it out to be, and what actually drives productivity and profits in a highly competitive economy.
By Terry A. Kirkpatrick
IT complexity is a fact of life for CIOs-and it's getting worse. Complex systems let companies get new employees up to speed fast, for example, or offer customers a new online service. The dark side, however, is a costly, confusing spaghetti bowl of systems behind equally complex business processes that adds millions to annual costs and reduces drastically the ability to respond flexibly to new technologies, business processes and markets. Contributing Editor Terry A. Kirkpatrick analyzes the complexity problem and concludes that the only cure is vigilance at the highest levels of IT and corporate governance.
Case Study: Parkway Corp.
By Dave Lindorff
Family-owned Parkway Corp. has figured out what many well-known companies are still wrestling with: how to build a cutting-edge data warehouse and use it to overhaul business strategy. A mid-size player in the parking business, owning and managing 100 parking lots in six states along the Atlantic seaboard, Parkway was once a technology laggard. Then, three years ago, it hired its first CIO to help it manage a surge in growth that forced it to get smarter about managing disparate operations, widely diverse clientele, high employee turnover and industry trends that demanded better approaches to controlling costs and competition. Veteran business writer Dave Lindorff looks at the 75-year-old Philadelphia-based firm, and how it's navigating the dicey, still-problematic art of business intelligence.
Research: Role of the CIO
By the editors of CIO Insight
With money tight and performance pressures high, there's a growing tension between CIOs' strategic aspirations and reality. This month's survey on the background, roles and priorities of CIOs shows that alignment and helping achieve business strategy remains a top priority with the 388 CIOs we surveyed. But 40 percent say their bosses view managing costs as one of the CIO's primary roles, a view that only 17 percent of CIOs hold themselves (a gap that is explored in a companion piece by Executive Editor Allan Alter). Balancing these demands has made leadership skills the most important personal attribute a CIO needs to succeed.
Strategic Technology: Logistics
By Gary A. Bolles
With companies sourcing globally and supplying customers with increasing expectations for timely delivery and rock-bottom pricing, the pressure to squeeze costs out of the supply chain is higher than ever. Contributing Editor Gary A. Bolles argues that increased supply chain efficiencies must be linked to a clear corporate strategy that's maniacally focused on providing value to the customer, such as delivering products by a certain time once a firm order is placed. Further, he writes, flexibility in both business processes and technology standards is more important than rigidly optimizing your supply chain.
Leading Edge: Substance Over Style
By Warren Bennis
The current vilification of tough, larger-than-life leaders and glorification of pleasant and humbler ones leads us to a false and simplistic dichotomy, argues leadership expert Warren Bennis. Genuine leadership is not a matter of personal style, but about certain timeless attributes that matter in every era and context. Bennis presents those attributes and shows why they transcend personal style, be it nice or prickly, warm or aloof, folksy or patrician.
Organizational Behavior: When Arrogance is Bliss
By Robert I. Sutton
Arrogance is now viewed as among the greatest sins in corporate life. But is that entirely fair? Are swaggering executives and technologists with massive egos all bad? Truth is, to develop ideas that really are new and different, and do it fast enough to reap a payoff, Sutton asserts, every company needs to bring in at least a few overconfident egomaniacs. The trick is to manage them carefully, and Sutton tells how.