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A New IT Manifesto

By annie shum | August 13, 2009

Global CIO: Welcome To The CIO Revolution: A New IT Manifesto

CIOs are rebelling against career stereotypes, technology paradigms, and in-bred risk-aversion to become aggressive drivers of innovation, growth, and market engagement. By Bob Evans, InformationWeek, Aug 6, 2009

At one of the bonfires, Global CIO found a copy of a document called “A New IT Manifesto” that has apparently become a rallying point for the chief information officers who are tired of being regarded as corporate scapegoats, frustrated by having to apply 20th-century tools to 21st-century challenges, and are eager to pounce on a variety of new approaches and technologies that will enhance their companies’ competitiveness and engage entire organizations more intimately with customers.
While some of the pages in the copy of The New IT Manifesto document obtained by Global CIO are missing, here are some of the steps recommended for participation in the CIO Revolution:

1) How are you paid? Not how well, but how? Does your comp package map to your old job that you’re at least tired of and perhaps sick of, or does it reflect the new firebrand-type CIO role you want to have with growth and customers and market-centric innovation as the key driver? If your pay is based on counting PCs and functioning in essence as the CFO’s assistant, then how will you be able to focus on emerging market opportunities?

2) How does your boss measure your performance? Are you being judged by plumbing-style metrics such as uptime, line-item budget compliance, SLAs, and headcount, or is your performance calibrated on new capabilities you’ve given to key sales teams, process breakthroughs you’ve made with key customers, tech innovations you’ve identified by finding great but little-known and hungry IT vendors, and business-driven reports you’ve created to show ROI on IT investments? If you’re paid to monitor servers and steer clear of customers, how are you going to ever be regarded as anything other than a tactical cost center?

3) Do you believe it is the job of the CIO to align IT with the business? If so, then you also must believe that IT is not *a part* of the business: that it’s a separate, detached, and reactive support department that others believe is poorly understood but richly overfunded and grades out, in the final analysis, as a tactical cost center. Alternatively, do you believe that the job of the CIO is to align IT with customers? If so, then you can play an indispensable role in leading new processes, new metrics, and new expectations and responsibilities for a new-wave IT organization that is driven by customer value and focused on business innovation. If you can’t get past this “align IT with the business” dogma, then you’re relegating yourself to a permanent back-bencher role in charge of a tactical cost center that will ultimately be outsouced or gradually ground into dust..

4) What’s the greatest accomplishment of you and your team in the past 12 months? And what’s the second-greatest? Would you be proud to stand in front of 300 of your peers at, say, the InformationWeek 500 Conference and describe those achievements? Or would you decline such an opportunity because, well, due to a variety of circumstances that really got underway years ago that you “inherited” and that are out of your control and that you’d fix were it not for the tough economy and then again your headcount is down so really the most you can do is tread water and after all life’s tough for your competitors too so maybe they’re also in suspended animation and have been for the past 18 months just like you so how in the world could anyone blame you for proclaiming that hunkering down and keeping your job were your two greatest achievements of the past year? If you’re not proud of your top achievements, how can your customers be? Or your boss and your colleagues? This is no way to run a revolution!

5) While not everyone is cut out to be the first over the ramparts, do you feel you’ve got a good sense of the massive changes taking place in all sectors of the industry? Do you see that, all around you, CIOs at companies large and small are tearing up the tired old formulas and policies and diving into new and sometimes-untried IT approaches that can deliver strategic breakthroughs? As InformationWeek editor Chris Murphy wrote yesterday in a Global CIO blog post, “Microsoft’s Stephen Elop, who leads its business division, articulated this recently, telling Cnet “we’re at some form of generational shift into this world of software plus services.” It goes well beyond Mr. Benioff touting the “end of software,” though it was kind of him to get the discussion started. It’s Microsoft putting Office profits in play on an unproven model. It’s SAP, despite some cold feet over the SaaS model, deciding to build an ecosystem of software services around its ERP, before CIOs do that themselves with Salesforce, Workday, and a world of other SaaS apps. Its Salesforce trying to be a platform, for apps as complex a electronic medical records. And it’s Google feeling sufficiently bold–or as likely, threatened–that it ramped up the publicity push for business users while it still has the advantage over Office of online access.” If you’re going with the same cookie-cutter approaches as all your competitors are using, you might not ever lose ” but you will surely never win.

6) One of the world’s top CIOs, Guy Chiarello of JPMorgan Chase, described in this week’s InformationWeek cover story that infrastructure innovation these days is deeply strategic and serves as the only way to stay ahead of aggressive competitors and abreast of rapidly shifting customer demands and requirements. As InformationWeek’s Mary Hayes wrote, “By acquiring a big chunk of WaMu’s business for $1.9 billion, including its prized West Coast branches and its pile of bad home loans, JPMorgan Chase already has boosted its revenue in retail banking and consumer lending. It upgraded to IBM’s Z10 systems shortly after the acquisition, creating a mainframe infrastructure that can handle current volume and create capacity on demand so that the company could more quickly absorb WaMu’s portfolio and customer data and have more efficient capacity for when business picks up. While some CIOs have put the brakes on IT infrastructure initiatives, Chiarello’s team has been busy investing time and money in hardware, refreshing and in some cases virtualizing desktops and servers throughout the company. Upper-hand negotiations with vendors are providing what he estimates are 25% savings over what he would’ve paid for new hardware during better times, setting price points that will be hard for vendors to ratchet back up when the economy turns around.” If the economy starts to improve in several months, and your CEO comes up to you and says it’s time to light up all those great new customer-embracing projects you’ve been working on, will your only answer be that, uh, sorry boss but all those projects have been on ice for the past 20 months because I wanted to show the CFO that he could count on me to hold down spending?

7) Another very bright guy over at InformationWeek, Alex Wolfe, advocated yesterday that the venerable (and expensive) enterprise notebook computer might have outlived its usefulness. How does that square with your thinking? Is your “Computing Device 2010” strategy pretty much a mirror image of the same one you cobbled together in 2007 and 2008 and 2009, or have you and your team really started to dig into the pros and cons and best approaches to smartphones and netbooks and virtualized desktops? As Wolfe writes, “Hey, if cloud and SaaS mean anything, it should be big savings by bagging the self-hosted software paradigm. How about you give your workers $500 each to buy a netbook instead, and they can support themselves? Workers tethered to an office can use a thin client, or — perish the thought — a desktop computer.

“I got onto this idea after I wrote the post Enterprises Iffy On Windows 7, which reported the early results of an InformationWeek Analytics survey. We found that many businesses were reluctant to upgrade from XP because of migration costs. Thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that we’ve all been assessing the operating system upgrade question like a disoriented pilot trying to fly his way out of the Bermuda Triangle. We’re going ’round in the same old circles.” The tools are changing, the needs are changing, the apps are changing, and the workforce is changing. Is your Computing Device strategy changing as well?

8) And how’s your thinking on another novel approach: social media? Are you relishing the role of Dr. No, devoting time and money to ensuring the purity of essence the thousands or tens of thousands of computing devices in your organization so that they won’t be CORRUPTED by time-suckers such as Twitter and Facebook? Or are you pushing for the company to try new ways of exploiting the remarkable power of social media in engaging with customers, reaching out to prospects, and monitoring the conversations that are taking place about your company and your brands whether you like it or not? As Global CIO wrote earlier this week in “Why CIOs Need The Transformative Power Of Facebook”: “Twitter is helping corporations of all stripes engage with customers candidly, productively, globally, and inexpensively. In this age of experience-driven marketing, in which customers not only want but expect to be involved in product co-creation and enhancements, Twitter gives businesses the unprecedented ability to tap into customer-driven feedback loops, which just on their own are highly valuable, and turn them into marketing labs, message amplifiers, focus groups, sales tests, and possibly even goodwill ambassadors.” If you’re unwilling to get to know Twitter merely because much of the content on it makes reading the phone book seem exciting, then why don’t you also ban smartphones because, potentially, they could be used to access porn?

9) Do you share with your team examples of game-changing innovation that can inspire and motivate? Do you remind them that the only limits to their own creativity are self-imposed? Do you reward them for reaching out across organizational lines to try to do in collaboration what neither side could do individually? Do you reward risk-taking in fact, or just in word? Here’s an example of a tremendous bit of innovation that involved two corporate departments that almost inconceivably had never worked together before in the company’s 100+-year history, and it comes with a short video clip that we at The New IT Manifesto fervently recommend you share with your team. In a column a couple months ago, here’s how Global CIO described this extraordinary new IT-stuffed product in “Six Lessons CIOs Must Learn From Coke’s Dazzling Innovation”: “Juicing its entire demand-to-supply chain from factory to consumer, Coca-Cola is rolling out a dazzling new product that’s hard to define but nevertheless does all of the following: It lets the company test more new products more quickly with more accuracy, it lets restaurants manage inventory more effectively at lower cost, and it lets consumers select from 100 different drink choices.

10) Life’s too short to keep our heads down and just hope the world passes us by. Welcome to the CIO Revolution!

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