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12/15/2009
07:21 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: Welcome To The CIO Revolution, Circa 2010

After the craziness that was 2009, what are the top strategic priorities for CIOs in 2010? Four world-class CIOs share their insights.

So a year ago you flipped overnight into the rabid cost-slashing reaper who hacked things down to the marrow as you and your colleagues fought to gain control or get a grip or perhaps even just survive. Then around midyear you started to hear some questions, which quickly became gripes, which rapidly evolved into burning-torch mobs outside your office as your C-level colleagues started screaming for better data and faster apps and more mobility and netbooks and Web 2.0 capabilities.

Suddenly, we all had to get ready to compete again. The big challenge facing CIOs in 2010 will once again involve a transformation—heck, a revolution—but this one won't be panic-driven and it won't be temporary. No, the 2010 CIO Revolution will involve "a changing focus for business and IT," as Capgemini CTO Andy Mulholland has put it: "Termed 'Business Technology,' the focus is on people, communications, and collaboration, not computers and data."

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That's a fairly revolutionary thought; you up for it? Mulholland's thesis recently got the strong endorsement of three world-class CIOs who joined him and me for a 90-minute webcast discussion of "Global CIO Agenda 2010: Welcome To The CIO Revolution."

Sunoco CIO Peter Whatnell said the revolution for CIOs is indeed happening because "circumstances demand it, and IT capabilities are better now than they were a few years ago." Whatnell added that his challenge is simple, and that many other businesses and CIOs might be in the same situation: "There's two ways my company can compete: operational excellence, and lower cost. That's it. So it's our job to find ways we can be innovative in how we run our day-to-day business."

Chiquita Brands CIO Manjit Singh said that the 2010 CIO revolution will be pegged to a core question: "How do you run IT as a business? We're seeing a real acceleration of that now" as companies in every industry look to shake off their old ways and change rapidly and dramatically in order to meet the new competitive requirements after a mostly suspended-animation 2010. "So we have to constantly ask ourselves, 'Where and how do I as CIO engage in that transformation?"

For UPMC senior vice-president and CIO Dan Drawbaugh, "2010 is all about finding new models for funding and choosing innovative approaches," citing examples where breakthroughs in medicine or medical technology can take 17 years to move from the lab to practical application in the clinic. "I think CIOs need to be very creative as they think about this, and it might result in something like collaborating with key vendors on investment funds. Because in 2010, we are all definitely headed in the direction of more innovation."

And Capgemini CTO Mulholland framed the CIO challenge for the coming year this way: "We're undergoing a revolution in technology, and we want the CIO to lead a revolution in great new capabilities and value, but that cannot come at the cost of tearing the IT organization away from the business."

Ready for the revolution? Share your story at the address below, and check out these two related assets: an archived version of the "Welcome To The CIO Revolution" webcast, and our recent report on the subject called "Global CIO: Welcome To The CIO Revolution: A New IT Manifesto."

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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