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Can a CIO Become Too Strategic?

By CIOinsight

Strong Signals: What's in Your Portfolio?
By John Parkinson
The typical IT organization, says columnist John Parkinson, the chief technologist for the Americas at Capgemini, should be thought of as a kind of specialized investor. CIOs makes bets that investments in technology

will generate returns for the business by putting together a "portfolio" of systems with a required investment cycle, and a "yield profile" intended to provide the basis for a return on the investment. The challenge lies in maintaining a balance while avoiding mediocrity. Most organizations, he advises, need a mix of moderate but certain returns and high but less certain returns. What's in your portfolio?

Synchronicity: The Vision Thing
By Marianne Broadbent
Paul Martin, CIO of Rexam plc, the world's leading beverage-can maker, gets "the vision thing." The vision thing, says columnist Marianne Broadbent, associate dean at the Melbourne Business School and Gartner Fellow, is not about using the very latest technology. It means thinking creatively about new business opportunities, about reshaping fundamental business problems and processes. Martin had a vision for his company built around IT as the way to create a competitive advantage in its relationships with its customer, and his efforts didn't just implement the business strategy—they evolved it, creating a new source of competitive leverage for Rexam.

Expert Voices: Doreen Wright
With Edward Cone
Taking over as CIO of Campbell Soup Co. in the midst of a major corporate restructuring was challenging enough for Doreen Wright. But adding to that the title of interim head of human resources made for a grueling year of work for the technology veteran. Senior Writer Edward Cone spoke to Wright about the burden of heading up two major business units simultaneously, the lessons she learned while hiring most of the executive staff at Campbell, and the wisdom she gained from seeing the world through the eyes of HR.

Trends: The Downside of Managing Up
By Debra D'Agostino
For years, CIOs have been told to think more strategically and gain a seat at the executive table. Plenty have gotten the message—more CIOs report to the CEO than ever before. The result, however, has led to an unfortunate side effect, says Reporter Debra D'Agostino. As CIOs spend more time in the boardroom, many fail to strike a balance between managing up and managing down the corporate ladder. The result: bad IT morale. The fix? CIOs need to give their lieutenants a greater role in strategy planning, and make sure the business value of IT initiatives is clearly understood.

Analysis: Can IT Save the Airlines?
By Jeffrey Rothfeder
What's wrong with the big airlines? For starters, high fuel prices, low employee productivity, ancient information technology, poor equipment utilization and a price war. The result: billions in losses amid a revolving door of bankruptcies. But perpetual cost-cutting isn't the answer. The solution, according to Contributing Editor Jeffrey Rothfeder, lies in a complete rethink of the hub-and-spoke business model, backed up with the IT needed to optimize scheduling, ticketing and boarding. The alternative to real change is a proverbial race to the bottom in which everyone loses, leading ultimately to massive consolidation in this once-proud industry.

Research: IT Spending
By the editors of CIO Insight
According to this month's survey of 438 IT executives, IT budgets will increase by 5 percent in 2005, more than twice the 2.2 percent hike we reported in last year's spending survey. But rather than focus in these post-recessionary times on revenue-enhancing technologies such as CRM and e-business, companies are spreading the money around, upping budgets for security and mobility, and for technologies such as ERP that boost IT integration, improve efficiency and streamline business processes. Still, there's no sign that IT spending is overheating again: Overall, the spending portfolio remains balanced, even conservative.

Strategic Technology: Corporate Performance Management
By Karen S. Henrie
Managing corporate performance effectively is a far more complicated and intangible task than CPM software vendors would have you believe. But when combined with accurate, consistent and relevant corporate data, these applications can be of great value, focusing disparate business units on a single, overriding corporate strategy. The trick is choosing the appropriate metrics—ones that actually measure progress toward strategic goals. And as technology journalist Karen S. Henrie points out, it's critical that you manage the software, rather than letting the software manage you.

This article was originally published on 02-05-2005