One part of my job that I like best is working with prospective customers to help them understand the potential ROI of a PPM solution. It’s an interactive process that takes many factors into consideration. Time and time again, what surprises me is the extent to which IT resources are over-committed, often to what turn out to be duplicated efforts, mis-aligned projects, and more. And yet IT is expected to lead the charge with innovation while keeping the lights on and taking a seat at the CxO table. It’s a lot to ask, isn’t it?
I think of this after reading Rob Preston’s “Top 10 CIO Priorities” in a recent issue of InformationWeek. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these priorities from previous years’ lists — just as I’m sure some of these have made your own lists in the past. The number three priority to “Break Out of the 80/20 Spending Trap” and the number two priority to “Make IT One with the Business” have been there for years. Why haven’t we been able to cross these off our lists?
Let’s take the 80/20 phenomenon. It states that many companies are still spending up to 80% of their budget on operating costs and only 20% on innovation that can actually grow their company. Most of these CIOs want to see that ratio shift. So why is it still on the list? Preston suggests that in order to bring that 80% down, companies would have to consolidate data centers, applications and data marts, and modernize their infrastructures. Some companies have already accomplished this to great success, but why not more? Why not invest the time to evaluate current applications, services, and processes to see which could be consolidated or retired, thus reducing maintenance and support costs and the drain on resources? Portfolio management is a great solution to do just that.
Secondly, the repetitive requests of some CIOs to “make IT part of the business” is losing its effect. Successful technology leaders think of IT as an integral part of the business, not a separate function. No other executive in an organization spends time trying so hard to “align with the business.” Instead, they think and act like part of the business by finding ways to improve the business. According to an InformationWeek 500 survey, almost half of the CIOs surveyed are taking on more responsibilities outside of IT, including process management, product development, supply chain management, and innovation. IT is the business. It’s time to cross this one off the list.
The New Year is the perfect opportunity to put the plans in action to accomplish what’s on our priority list. What we need is incentive: incentive to find efficiencies within our organizations’ operations that can fund the initiatives that will differentiate the business.
So as we bid 2011 farewell, what’s my hope for 2012? That we make good on these priorities and cross them off the list to make room for new ones! So that the next time we see InformationWeek’s “Top 10 CIO Priorities” list, it will feature some bold new challenges, new incentives, new ideas we make happen. Who’s with me?