In this issue, CIO Insight's editorial teamEllen Pearlman, Allan E. Alter, Marcia Stepanek and Edward H. Bakerfocuses on the unpredictable economy and its impact on IT planning, staffing and budget. Our recently completed survey shows that less than 40 percent of CIOs have seen their department budgets cut this year. In fact, they fared better than many of their corporate counterparts because technology has become critical to the core mission of every business. That may explain why our research also shows that tech projects supporting new or existing revenue-generating strategies remain a higher priority than IT-based cost-cutting efforts (Research: Spending).
Indeed, respondents still feel optimistic about the prospects for their companies and for the economy as a whole. Still, every CIO is feeling the stress of circumstances: a fickle stock market, lower consumer confidence, tightening energy supplies, and continued bad news about employment and corporate earnings. Despite the demise of so many of the dot-coms and the release of all that talent into the market, experts are predicting continued IT staffing shortages (Talent Search 2.0).
The order of the day is uncertaintyabout the economy, government regulation of technology, acceptance of new technologies in the marketplace, even what will be the next new new thing. Change is indeed difficult at such times: Taking a risk on an e-business initiative back in 1998 was a lot easier than deciding when to take a chance on m-commerce now. Unfortunately, too many companies facing an uncertain future tend to dig in their heels and wait passively to see what will come next.
But uncertain times call for certain measures, and it will take leadership to navigate the rapids of the next few years. Such leaders will need a vision of what the futureor the various possible futureswill look like, and a strategy that gives them the flexibility to accommodate whatever twists and turns they encounter along the way (The Uncertainty Principle). They will need the ability to manage in the face of uncertainty, building support among those placed both above and below them for the swift shifts in tactics that may be necessary (Managing With Clout). And they must be able to execute on their strategies, having created the tools for changing course and for assessing the results.
You can't know the future. But you can prepare for it.
This article was originally published on 06-01-2001