Progressive IT Management Strategies: The IT manager’s 360-degree view of business




The New CIO Business Leader and Change Management Expert

Today’s chief information officer (CIO) not only has to be knowledgeable about technology, but frequently, the CIO is called upon to align the strategic goals of senior management in addition to managing on-going, day-to-day technology issues—the technology that provides visibility in the decision-making process.According to the IBM survey Expanding the Innovation Horizon: The Global CEO Study 2006, of 765 global chief executive officers (CEOs), most are finding there is a gap in the integration of their business and their technology, which hinders customer satisfaction as well as speed and flexibility in managing the business.A survey sponsored by the Gartner Group, Cost Cutting in IT, states that “2008 represents an important year in the transformation of IT’s role. Executive expectations for IT will accelerate towards greater support for solutions that attract, engage, and retain customers.” Notwithstanding the progress made in the area of aligning business requirements with IT skills, the gap has still not narrowed significantly, as a generational shift has occurred: IT employees in their mid to late 30s have only ever worked in IT, and they may have not had the opportunity to grow inother areas within the organization. Many baby boomers, on the other hand, have been entrenched in one organization for a number of years, and possibly in a number of positions within several company facilities.

The IT Executive: The Best Seat in the House

Due to the fast pace of change in technology and in terms of new business regulations and market conditions globalization, the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act [SOX], etc.), the IT department has had to be configured to provide the company with the tools to capture the emerging trends related to commodity and currency rate valuations. In addition, these professionals have been expected to be able to deploy systems that are equally agile in the area of tracking order status. The ability to use analytic tools to develop strategies in an ever-changing business landscape requires that the IT leadership be less of a functional role and more of a specialist within the company.

IT Tools That Impact Organizational Performance

Given the IT department’s role as “agents for change” within an organization, perhaps one of the tools that is most vital for organizations to remain competitive is business intelligence (BI). The term business intelligence refers to technologies, applications, and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of BI, and sometimes to the information itself as well. The purpose of BI is to support better business decision making.
As businesses began automating their processes and more data became available, the challenge became how to distribute that data to the correct channels for decision-making purposes. Prior to BI, many key business decisions were made intuitively. BI often uses key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the present state of a business and to suggest a course of action. To do this, BI uses analytics (a combination of statistical analysis and data mining) to examine trends or subjects that fall outside of the user-defined, benchmarked parameters.
To further your knowledge of BI and key vendors of BI solutions, I suggest you visit www.technologyevaluation.com. Select the vendor showcase to review the complete list of vendors and to obtain white papers and comparison reports.

Being IT Savvy
The term “IT savvy” was coined in the mid-90s by a researcher at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) to describe how organizations can invest in specific IT knowledge base areas, and receive a return on that investment in measurable results in that category (see Generating Premium Returns on Your IT Investments):

Characteristics of IT Savvy Companies

• IT for communication—high use of electronic channels, such as e-mail, intranets, and wireless devices, for internal and external communications and work practices.

• Digital transactions—a high degree of digitization of a firm’s repetitive transactions,
particularly sales, customer interaction, and purchasing.

• Internet use—more use of Internet architectures for key processes, such as sales force management, employee performance measurement, training, and post-sales customer support.

• Firm-wide IT skills—high capability of all employees to use IT effectively. There are strong technical and business skills among IT staff, strong IT skills among business staff, and an adequate market supply of highly skilled IT staff.

• Business management involvement—strong senior management commitment and championing of IT initiatives. There is also strong business unit involvement in IT decisions, resulting in a partnership between IT staff and businessunits to generate value from IT investments.

IT Professionals Will Require Business Savvy

Due to such external factors as economic recession, globalization, and retiring baby boomers, older IT specialistswill be replaced by individuals having a demonstrated knowledge of such key business areas as finance, supply chain management, and so on.
According to a UK-based web site for IT contractors, www.contractoruk.com (CUK), one US outsourcer told CUK that the call for business-savvy IT professionals was loudest among international outfits seeking software programmers or reliable third-party suppliers. “In my experience, firms are maintaining contractors and permanent workers who are business savvy and know how software connects to their business,” said Parasoft CEO, Dr. Adam Kolawa.
All IT professionals who wish to bone up on their understanding of IT technology and business applications should visit TEC’s web site, www.technologyevaluation.com.
 
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