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Equally important is the fact that Wittstein no longer begs for every last dollar needed to pursue projects in the name of IT optimization--not only because his business background provides inherent legitimacy, but because Sappi's business leaders understand they have a vested interest in IT. "I never have to fight for resources like my peers do," he says. "My business people are fighting for them for me because we've already agreed on what the priorities are."
Elsewhere, sadly, there are plenty of C-level executives who think of IT as little more than an infrastructure cost center. "It really depends on where the organization is in the maturity of its IT and how it uses it," says Booz Allen's Farber, who defines IT maturity based on the readiness of a company to make the transition to businessfocused, demand-side IT. "You'll have organizations that really understand the value of IT and how it needs to support the system. Those CIOs have a big advantage."
Those are also the companies fueling a growing trend of hiring CIOs who come from the business side and thus understand the need for IT investments to impact business processes. "These businesses understand what they want their CIOs to do and be, and that's influencing the people they put in these positions," Farber says.
CIOs who are stuck providing supplyside IT must establish a focus on what IT is contributing to the business, he says. They may want to seek feedback from business executives on how IT can deliver more value to the business, match their IT objectives to their companies' strategic plans or even bring business leaders into the IT organization, Farber says.