Lazy CIOs in trouble after GFC

CA chief on "slaying the complexity dragon"

CA chief John Swainson today renewed calls for CIOs to be on the executive table for businesses to save money during the global financial crisis.

Australians spend an average of 65 percent IT budgets on 'running the business' over the last year, Gartner says, compared to 17 percent on growth and 19 percent on transformation. A 2008 survey of 175 global CIOs by Harvard Law School and Sloan business schools found eighty percent have a seat on the senior leadership team and 69 percent are involved in strategic decision-making.

Swainson said CIOs are crucial to cut costs because IT is the most under-utilised and complex resources in business.

"It takes more than just talk to align IT to the business so it's only fitting that the CIO sits with the CFO and CEO... they have come to the realisation that IT is the only way to drive new business, new customers, and drive revenue to the bottom line," Swainson said.

"Dump the techno-lingo and talk to the business in terms they understand; help them focus on operations, risk and security management and availability.

"The companies that drive innovation are the ones that will succeed now [and] will be the first to seize opportunities as they arise."

Swainson urged CIOs to brush aside hype surrounding the global financial crisis and focus on reducing IT complexity, which he said derives from the "deluge" of new products that are "layered into an already complex environment".

"The guessing game in the global financial crisis is a distraction; turn off the telly and stay focused... don't get paralysed by fear because there are lots of opportunities to go after the root causes of complexity," he said, adding that "slaying the complexity dragon is about good IT management".

Technology managers will face a crack-downs from the business in the wake of the financial crisis if their IT shops are inefficient and not completely in-line with business operations, according to Swainson. He says CIOs should standardised functions and processes, share services and automate manual tasks where possible, and "measure everything".

"IT must become more customer centric than ever... and should be managed according to the needs of customers, [rather] than the way the technology dictates."

Businesses can achieve the touted productivity gains of virtualisation by improving management of virtual machines, Swainson said, and prepare for service-oriented architecture by researching how to manage applications shared over distributed environments.

"Management tools are the killers applications of virtualisation and are the only way to drive the compelling business advantages of [the technology]."

Swainson was speaking at a CA event in Sydney today.

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