How the Best CIOs Differ From the Rest

Susan Hall
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Seven Major Projects CIOs Should Consider During the Next Three Years

High-performing IT organizations have bolted out of the gate following the economic meltdown, according to Accenture research, which also found the gap widening between high performers and the rest of the field.


From detailed assessments of more than 226 of the world's largest private- and public-sector organizations, Accenture culled the top performers in three areas together: IT execution, IT agility and IT innovation while "balancing the constant and sometimes opposing demands placed on today's IT function."


That balance can be tricky. My colleague Don Tennant spoke with Neil Giarratana, a retired multinational CEO and author of the book, "CEO Priorities: Master the Art of Surviving at the Top," who dinged top IT executives for "swaying in the wind" without standing fast in their priorities and goals. And after our Midmarket CIO Forum, fellow blogger Ann All came back with some advice for CIOs who need to say "no."


Said Gary Curtis, Accenture's chief technology strategist who supervised the research:

Our survey found that chief information officers (CIOs) of high-performance IT organizations are deeply involved in business outcomes and closely attuned to business needs-current and future-across the enterprise. They are successfully retiring their legacy systems and embracing newer technologies. They are adept at managing the balance between optimizing costs and ensuring that they have the budget, skills, and resources to help fuel business growth.
Among the differences between these top organizations and lower-performing IT departments:
  • They have Web-enabled 42 percent more of their customer interactions and 93 percent more of their suppliers' interactions.
  • They are 44 percent more likely to recognize the strategic role IT plays in increasing customer satisfaction.
  • They are eight times more likely to measure the benefits realized from IT initiatives.
  • They spend 29 percent more annually on developing and implementing new applications rather than on maintaining existing ones.
  • They are twice as likely to view workforce performance as a priority by addressing challenges such as an aging workforce and collaboration, as well as developing technical and soft skills (business knowledge, relationship management).


The site Career is Over has some fun with the report:

Good news for some CIOs: high performers not only manage IT like a business, but run technology for the business and with the business. ... I'd have thought managing IT for the business was a bit of a given. I mean, why else would you manage IT? The fun of it, perhaps?

True, but you have to admit that some IT shops forget that core purpose.

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