Entries from November 2007 ↓

CIOs wrestle with short-term thinking

Podcasting has had a profound effect on the way that I keep up to date with my industry and the world in general. It turns my daily commute into an opportunity to absorb new ideas. The most powerful aspects of the technology are the ability to listen offline – to timeshift – and and the fact that I don’t need to use my eyes, or my hands, or need a comfortable seat, or can listen while jogging. I’m particularly grateful for the specialised channels that have embraced podcasts – ABC radio allows me to catch up with news, analysis or the Science Show – luxuries which I never had the time for in the past. IT Conversations allows me to attend tech conferences on the other side of the planet which were previously unavailable.

I recently heard a great podcast from MIS magazine called CIOs wrestle with short-term thinking which reinforced a lot of my observations of the state of “Enterprise IT.” Two of the key speakers were Bill Robertson (CIO of DeBortoli Wines) and Ross Dawson. Key points from the podcast were:

  • Organizations are sourcing IT through multiple different channels – either by outsourcing services, or through new software as a service models.
  • New component-based computing models are enabling this kind of change.
  • These changes require more long-term thinking – evolutionary changes to the IT landscape require a tenure that is typically longer than the current average for CIOs and CEOs.
  • The nature of the CIO job is changing – moving from being a bureaucratic or procurement role into being more of a technology role.

This resonates strongly with my observations and experience in the industry. Short-term thinking favours “quick fixes” such as buying the latest application or outsourcing the “crown jewels” to the latest services company. Rarely do these actions fix anything – they just move the problems around.

Long-term thinking deals with the harder issues of managing less tangible (but more valuable) assets such as processes and capabilities. IT Architecture becomes a vital organizational capability and good governance drives consistency and interoperability over a longer period of time.