Editorial: August 2001

This month’s issue of CIO Insight delivers a ringing call to arms from Gary Hamel: “My question to the IT community is: What is the contribution you are going to make to produce incredible new value for customers?” (Flying Blind). It’s not enough, in other words, for CIOs merely to develop and install technology that can boost efficiency and wring costs out of their organizations. Nor is it enough to view the IT department as a “profit center,” susceptible to the same P&L statements as the business units. Hamel’s view is much more radical: CIOs must start dreaming up products and services that will create new value for their companies’ customers. And who better to do so than CIOs, the people most familiar with the technologies on which future profits will depend? It’s an issue we believe is central to the role of every CIO—and to the purpose of this magazine.

Creating customer value isn’t the only way CIOs can help boost corporate profits. Competitive advantage will be increasingly determined by how well businesses can sift through the increasingly murky glut of data being surfaced by the new technologies of the Information Age, and the companies most skilled at mining that glut for valuable market clues and inside scoops on rivals will be the best equipped to succeed. Increasingly, the ability to compete at the “speed of information” will determine winners and losers in all industries, says consultant Leonard Fuld. In “Spies Like Us“, we look at the burgeoning field of competitive intelligence, which is redefining the rules of rivalry in some industries. CIOs can contribute significantly to these efforts by marshalling the people and technology to design the best CI systems, and then manage them amid rapid changes in the marketplace.

The changing notion of competitive intelligence inevitably brings up the specter of security; after all, your security leak is my competitive intelligence. IT security isn’t just a matter of installing software that keeps out viruses. It’s a progressive state of mind—among technology and business staffers alike—that understands the value of an organization’s intellectual capital and the rising importance of its safekeeping. This month’s research (“Security“) shows clearly that CIOs generally have a low opinion of their non-IT colleagues’ awareness of security as a companywide concern. And at a time when the number of IT links to the world beyond the corporate network is multiplying, a change is required.

Is your organization ready for change? Does it have the innate flexibility necessary to survive and prosper in a time of intense challenges to organizational structure and quick shifts in strategy? In “The Readiness Gap“, we talk to CIOs, consultants and experts about how to find out whether your enterprise is ready, willing and able to change. In a world that is increasingly demanding the speedy delivery of value to customers and shareholders, readiness is all.

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