An Open Letter to Your CEO: What IT Really Needs

Dear Mr./Ms. CEO,

I know that you often get pretty frustrated with the IT group. I know you want your IT group to be successful. I especially know you want to get the greatest return on investment for every dollar you are spending on information technology. That’s why I’m writing you this letter.

I want to help you dramatically increase the ROI on every IT dollar you spend. No kidding. I’m talking about a 100x improvement in efficiency and efficacy. Interested? I figured you would be.

Why you should listen to me

You’re likely wondering why you should listen to me, an author and consultant. After all, you have your own CIO with whom you can speak. Well, the fact of the matter is, we both know you don’t really listen to him–especially when it comes to hearing the hard messages. You’re tough, demanding, and don’t want to hear about problems. You want to hear about solutions. “Make it happen”– that’s your motto.

To be fair, your CIO isn’t always that great at delivering the tough messages. But then again, can you blame him? You’re the boss. Everyone wants to please you.

I’m an external consultant. I’ve got no ax to grind, no bonus on the line. It’s my job to “speak truth to power.” So, here goes.

A basic truth

It’s easy to blame IT for everything technology-related that isn’t quite right. It’s especially tempting when it comes to delays or cost overruns on high-profile projects. That’s because a new system implementation acts as the perfect focal point for the many issues of the past. It’s as if all of the buried business and process issues of the past magically become an IT problem when a new system is implemented. It is this basic truth that sets the stage for everything I am about to share with you.

Look, I know your IT group isn’t perfect. But you need to realize that the seeds of the problems you often face with large-scale IT projects were planted long ago. If you want to not only fix these problems, but turn your IT group into a powerful force for innovation in the process, you need to make some changes in the business.

The good news is that the changes I’m talking about don’t cost a lot of money or require activities on the scale of a large system implementation. They are basic changes in mindset and attitude combined with appropriate executive follow through.

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