Top 3 Priorities for Chief Information Officers

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Top 3 Priorities for Chief Information Officers

/ February 23, 2012

According to InformationWeek, the top three priorities for Chief Information Officers in the United States are (in a few words) budget, collaboration, and speed. The article I’m referring to gives a great overview of the top ten CIO priorities, but I think my keyboard might burst into flames if I have to reiterate the business case for cloud computing one more time. So let’s jump to the front of the priorities and get to the bottom of this executive wish list.

No. 3: Break out of the 80/20 spending trap

Here in the US, our enterprises have been in investing in heavy technology for a few decades – and by investing, I mean amassing enormous systems with million dollar price tags and dribbling ROIs. The modern CIO is not at fault of course – 15 million dollar ERP systems were once a dramatic differentiator for large companies – it is, however, their problem now.

Preston explains that budgets are flat and when 80% is spent on maintaining existing systems, growth initiatives that promise real business value tend to lose their steam. Navigating the way from 80/20 to 50/50 requires a long term strategy, but today’s CIO knows that investing time into balancing costs is a better bet than any single system. The ability to derive quantifiable business value from IT activities brings us to our next CIO priority…

No. 2: Make IT one with the business

IT is here to support strategic business goals – and even if the rest of the company sees the IT group as Level 8 Dungeon Masters, these folks have more concentrated innovation power than the rest of the company combined. The modern CIO knows this, and according to Preston, 45 percent of InformationWeek 50 companies cited “introducing new IT-led products and services” among the top three ways they plan to innovate with technology this year.

There are a few ways to make IT ‘one with the business’ – at Mendix, we prefer to connect the project team to end users through a feedback button on web apps. We also invite every stakeholder we can to the Sprintr party (er.. project) and collaborate and co-create until the application is aligned with business, their goals, and their user stories.

No. 1: IT is too darn slow (and needs to get faster)

And at the center of it all, there’s speed. Where marketing and HR initiatives take 3 months, IT initiatives take 12. Large enterprises have grown accustomed to this, and while [almost] everyone has great ideas, CIO’s make decisions based on their team’s ability to implement them. Losing out on business opportunities due to unsuccessful projects or unattainable launch dates is one of the biggest pains that Mendix resolves for CIOs.

American Express CIO Toby Redshaw comments “Small agile beats big slow—big agile beats everything.” I tend to agree with him, and having witnessed Mendix make adopting agile an easy and natural progression, our users can create highly adaptable applications faster than most IT teams write requirements. Speed enables CIOs to focus on business-value creation instead of operational maintenance. This results in business-IT alignment, and that’s the buzz word of the decade for modern CIOs.

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