By Laton McCartney
The slowing economy is giving new clout to CIO-led business project teams. These teams aim to help firms harness the Net to cut costs and change the way companies relate to customers and suppliers across the globe. In the process, these agents of change are also rewiring corporate culture one technology project at a time. These direct descendants of Y2K crisis management teams are more highly disciplined and closely managed than past IT teams; their structure and the way they are managed enable the projects they undertake to stay within budget, meet deadlines and pay off. McCartney, a veteran technology journalist, explores Gartner research that shows how these teams are managed and how the CIO has emerged as the driving force behind these collaborative implementations of technology. Given the high risk for failure of teams, the CIOs who lead such groups require business, technology, team-building, project management and communication skills to be effective.
Measuring the Future
By Peggy Sue Heath
Traditional methods of calculating return on investment are often ill-suited to measuring the strategic impact of e-business applications, and of customer-facing systems such as customer relationship management in particular. That's because e-business can have a profound strategic impact on a company—beyond improving processes and productivity, it can fundamentally change the customer experience, a company's products, even its business opportunities. CIOs should approach e-business ROI with a view toward establishing both an initial justification for the project and a baseline for ongoing management decisions and incentives, argues Peggy Sue Heath, a member of Ziff Davis Market Experts and a specialist in emerging technology markets. The goal: to base a metrics framework on the specific yardsticks—such as shareholder value, internal financial measures, impact on customers, productivity and potential for growth—that are shaping the company's e-business strategy.
By MacDonnell Ulsch
IT executives who turn to third-party Web-hosting services to manage their companies' Web sites must make sure these firms take proper security precautions. Facilities that are supposedly secure may actually be riddled with weaknesses that hackers can exploit, or could cause havoc should a natural disaster occur. Ulsch, a security and risk management expert, details what to look for when assessing a Web-hosting service's security preparedness. CIOs should look into such protective measures as backup generators, guards, video surveillance and limited access to the servers. They should also investigate the fiscal health of the Web-hosting firm. The security awareness of the staff, hiring procedures and the creation of appropriate security policies are also critical.
Wising Up to Wireless
By Frank J. Derfler, Jr.
Cell phones, PDAs and other wireless devices give companies a new way to reach customers and suppliers, and gain a competitive edge over rivals. But going wireless does not have to break the budget. Derfler, a consultant with Ziff Davis Market Experts, looks at the issues CIOs need to consider as they develop a wireless strategy. His top recommendations: Embrace XML and the Wireless Application Protocol.
By Mike Perkowski
Recently, CIO Insight asked more than 400 CIOs and senior IT strategists about their outsourcing plans. The results show that companies are becoming more comfortable with the outsourcing of their important applications. Authored by Mike Perkowski, the head of Ziff Davis Market Experts, the survey shows that 76 percent of the study's respondents hired outside outsourcers during the past 12 months. Fully 64 percent of respondents cited either "lack of internal staff" or "lack of internal expertise" as primary reasons for outsourcing. Interestingly, "cost predictability" and "cost reduction"—historically the two most important reasons to outsource—were cited by only 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, as the top reasons to outsource.
Privacy, Republican Style
By Michael D. Scott
The Bush Administration appears to be loosening Clinton-era constraints on the business use of personal information, but don't expect a wholesale reversal, observes attorney and author Michael Scott in the first of our regular columns on IT, politics and the law.
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