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12/27/2009
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Global CIO: My 5 Favorite Cover Stories Of 2009

From a year's worth of InformationWeek cover stories, here's a very personal list. And I'm already regretting some I didn't pick.

Looking at all InformationWeek magazine's cover stories of 2009, it's painfully hard to pick my favorites. Here’s a stab at a top five, with links to the issue within our gallery of 2009 covers.

5. Why Windows Must Go Open Source Charles Babcock made the case in early 2009 that Microsoft needed to move this way to keep developers engaged. Even with Windows 7 looking like a hit (see our Sept. 29 "WinEvitable" cover), the risks we outlined remain strong. It's especially true of Windows Mobile, which Babcock predicted would be the first to go open source. If anything, we underestimated the Google threat. Its Web-based e-mail and apps are looking increasingly enterprise ready. And it has open-source operating systems aimed at mobile computing: Android for smartphones, and Chrome planned for netbooks by next year.

4. The Squishy ROI Of Social Networking This cover story explored a problem that continues to nag many a CIO--how to harness the energy of Facebook inside companies. Andrew Conry-Murray's article analyzed the various platforms and strategies companies use to encourage social networking among colleagues. His conclusion was to push ahead on enterprise social networking, at least in pilots, even if ROI's fuzzy: "Don't let caution or fear overwhelm good sense."

3. Customer Satisfaction In an article with exclusive InformationWeek research, Conry-Murray quantified the dissatisfaction enterprise software customers have with their vendors, but also challenged end users to do more to improve the vendor-buyer relationship. In a companion article, Mary Hayes Weier plumbed the growing discontent about software maintenance fees, an issue that would simmer all year long. CIOs vented their struggles to cut budgets amid unbending fees and noted changes they'd like to see, including tiered pricing and service levels. Top executives of Oracle and SAP defended the fees as the reason they can deliver high-quality products.

2. Consider This, Mr. President The most influential CIOs and tech CEOs weighed in on what they thought President Obama's IT agenda should be for the federal government. Soon after, the President named Aneesh Chopra as his CTO and Vivek Kundra as his CIO, and they've embarked on a major change agenda, such as using IT to drive transparency, and changing how government thinks about IT infrastructure. InformationWeek chose Kundra as its 2009 chief of the year.

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1. Alternative IT This cover captures what will be a major theme for 2010--the increasing openness of CIO's to take new approaches to delivering IT. We'll see it in the growing enterprise use of online apps. We'll see it in increasing use of cloud computing, particularly in hybrid clouds that combine more flexible in-house computing infrastructure with public, pay-as-you-go cloud services. And we'll see it in the devices employees carry, as the lines blur among smartphones, netbooks, and laptops. CIOs will need to embrace this bevy of devices amid growing pressure to deliver work computing experiences as mobile, engaging, and productive as the ones they use to run their personal lives.

I'm already having pains of regret for some I didn't pick. This is a purely personal reaction to these articles, as a reader, and I'm sure almost no two people on our team would come up with the same five. To ease my regret, I'll cheat and note two others.

One isn't a single issue, but a format--our first all-digital magazine issues. (The most recent one's here). We continue to be firmly committed to our print magazine, while also leveraging all that digital formats offer. Your feedback on what works and doesn't will shape our strategy.

The second isn't a single cover story, but an entire special issue we devoted to "smarter business," our take on how companies are using emerging technology in specific industries or applications to get results. This stood out for the responses we got from readers, many of them emotional about the potential technology presents. Wrote one reader: "It reinforced my belief that we have yet to begin to exploit the Internet and wireless capabilities. ... I fear my children will watch as other countries have the financial wherewithal to really grasp that Internet and wireless brass ring."

Thank you for sharing your passion, intelligence, and experiences in 2009. If there's a way InformationWeek can be more relevant to you in 2010, please let me know.

Global CIO small globe Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek.

To find out more about Chris Murphy, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO.

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