Posts Tagged ‘cio strategy’
The cloud is a commercial vehicle. This undeniable truth must now be accepted as a deeply entrenched truism by CIOs who are looking to manage the forward-looking growth of their technology architectures.
We can actually refine this statement further. The cloud is a commercial vehicle designed to facilitate customer engagement, sales and therefore profits.
These are not inconvenient truths, but it is an undeniable truth if you believe the proclamations being made by some of the new change-makers driving cloud computing from the Platform-as-a-Service level.
This commercialization of the cloud is facilitated by the way users are interacting with cloud services. Although that may sound like stating the obvious, what we mean by this use of the term “interacting” is now increasingly impacted by social applications. Analyst firm McKinsey estimates that there is $1.3 billion dollars waiting to be unlocked in the global economy if we harness enterprise level social technologies effectively.
IT professionals implementing energy efficient solutions in the data center are realizing big savings, and many report it has been easier to do than they thought it would be. In its fourth year, the CDW Energy Efficient IT Report found that implementing energy efficient solutions is easier than the typical organization perceives. Even better, “green” initiatives are gaining respect in the IT world, with 43% of survey respondents identifying green initiatives as a top driver for data center consolidation.
But what exactly is energy efficiency in the data center? Typically it involves everything from hardware selection to consolidation, cooling strategies, virtualization and more. CDW’s report discussed the solutions users identified as offering the greatest return in energy efficiency, taking into consideration the cost, technical feasibility and management support for various solutions.
It also examined the barriers IT managers face when pursuing data center energy efficiency. While the combination of energy efficient strategies that makes the most sense for your organization will depend on your unique data center environment, there are still best practices to keep in mind.
Through the report findings and numerous implementations, here is what we have learned.
Today we celebrated going live with IPV6 versions of many of our top rated sites. The work was done in advance of our participation in the IPV6 Launch Day. For the uninitiated, IPv6 Launch Day is the date where major sites will begin to have their websites publicly available in the new Internet numbering scheme and is currently set for June 6, 2012. As many of you likely know the IPv4 space which has served the Internet so well since its inception is running out of unique addresses. I am especially proud of the fact that we are the first of the largest Internet players to achieve this unique feat. In fact three of our sites occupy slots in the Top 25 Sites in the ranking including www.aol.com, www.engadget.com, and www.mapquest.com. As with all things there are some interesting caveats. For example – Google is IPv6 enabled for some ISPs, but not all. I am specifically highlighting global availability.
Today’s manufacturers bear little resemblance to their nuts-and-bolts predecessors from the previous century. Managers overseeing assembly lines in search of inefficiencies and security lapses have been replaced by IT-driven innovations designed to streamline processes in lightning-quick fashion.
The way manufacturers apply these innovations rests heavily on the unique challenges they face with their products and in their industries. Baseline spoke with several manufacturers to get a closer look at some successful mergers of manufacturing and IT.
Weathering the Changes
When Hurricane Irene collided with the Northeast U.S. coast in August 2011, consumer product companies that supplied retailers in the region scrambled to understand the storm’s impact on their supply forecasts for the coming week. Forecasts that had consumers buying their typical weekly supply of diapers and tissues, for instance, proved useless when storm-struck residents loaded up on batteries and bottled water.
However, Kimberly-Clark—a producer of personal and health-care consumer products—had an ace up its sleeve in the form of demand-sensing technology that it had recently adopted to improve supply forecast accuracy.
The pace of technology is relentless, and IT professionals face the continual challenge of staying on top of the latest trends and evolving technologies while continuing to do their jobs. Many companies are finding that the workers they have are not necessarily the workers they need as technology advances. The result is an “IT skills gap” that organizations are trying to remedy, according to a recent survey, “The State of the IT Skills Gap,” from CompTIA. The study reveals that this gap is impacting productivity and other day-to-day operational needs. Many organizations are attempting to resolve the issue with improved training for their IT staff.
When data center and facility managers meet with the CIO about new equipment, the conversations are rarely easy. The equipment they seek is often expensive, in the six- or seven-figure range, and justifying the expense can be challenging.
That was the backdrop for an unusual session of front-line technology managers at the Afcom data center conference. Part of their job involves convincing the CIO of the need for the equipment.
At this session, hands-on managers shared their techniques for getting CIO approval for new equipment. The forum was a roundtable, informal, and people spoke candidly, and so it was agreed that no names would be published.
My latest Forrester CIO client visits tell me economic uncertainty is actually helping IT leaders accelerate plans for the future. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Perhaps it’s just because I started in Europe, where the hourly ups and downs of sovereign debt crises cause government policy whiplash paired with market cap acid reflux. Most consider trying to plan anything in this environment, particularly slow-changing corporate IT systems, impossible. Or perhaps, as IT leaders, we’re still just haunted by the great tech recession a decade ago, and we just expect IT budgets will always be the target of corporate austerity efforts.
But one thing is clear: For some, uncertainty breeds paralysis. For others, the very presence of uncertainty offers a platform to drive clever and radical change. Consider two of the many stories about the latter I heard recently:
1. One IT leader uses uncertainty to reduce his dependency on Microsoft software clients. To be clear, every IT leader I met faces daunting budget pressure. This client’s business is producing basic materials for construction projects globally. Depressed demand for building materials means his company has turned otherwise dormant kilns for firing these materials into ovens for destroying old tires and drugs seized by police. Why? Because finding productive uses for capital investments helps (at least) service debt on that capital when current market demand disappears (and apparently, these kilns burn at such a high heat, they produce zero emissions – that’s cool).
So this IT leader is doing his part by optimizing his employee toolkit. Forrester’s most recent Strategic Planning Forrsights data shows two things: Few people in enterprises actually use the full suite of Microsoft products, and even fewer engage in more than about 15% of the functionality of Microsoft tools. Yet prior analysis indicates that client software, archiving capabilities, and mobility support are some of the largest per-employee cost drivers in the Microsoft toolkit portfolio. Following my logic above, I’d argue there’s no better time for this IT leader to attempt pulling the familiar Microsoft Office tools from the grips of business execs who use it only occasionally. Today, it’s about getting productive use out of our capital.
More of the Forrester post from Matthew Brown
I work with a lot of CIOs and heads of strategy in Australia and the Asia Pacific area – particularly concerning the development and updating of their IT strategies. As a part of our strategy document review service, I have seen plenty of approaches to IT strategies – from “on a single page” position statements through to hugely detailed documents that outline every project that will take place over the next 5-10 years.
While it can be argued that an IT strategy can’t really be strategic at all if it is just responding to business needs and requests (isn’t that just an IT plan?), the broader question of “what, exactly is a strategy?” is rarely touched upon.
I was fortunate to be invited to TCS’s recent Australian customer summit in Sydney. I was particularly attracted by the high caliber of the speakers and audience. One of the speakers whose presentation I found fascinating was Richard Rumelt, from UCLA Anderson – author of the book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters. His presentation focused on “what makes a good strategy, and how do you identify a bad one.” I really like his definition of what a strategy is:
A strategy is a coherent mix of policy and action designed to surmount a high-stakes challenge.
The basis of a good strategy is to diagnose the challenge, develop a guiding policy and create coherent policies and actions.
More of the Forrester post from Tim Sheedy
Takeaway: Scott Lowe says CIOs need to be business leaders first and technologists second, but there needs to be a good balance.
CIOs need to be business leaders. That is an incontrovertible fact. Over the years, however, much has been written by people who believe that a CIO can be fully successful without knowing anything about what’s really keeping the lights on. The tone of these articles often seems to suggest that companies can simply pluck someone out of finance or sales and thrust them into the job of the CIO and expect the rainbow and leprechaun to appear with the pot of gold. After all, IT isn’t really about technology, right? It’s about getting business done using technology.
Before I get into a discussion, let me ask a follow up set of questions:
Would you hire a CFO that had only ancillary experience in finance?
Would you hire a VP for Sales that didn’t know the sales process from start to finish?
I’d bet that the answer to both of these questions is “No”. Why, then, do some companies believe that a CIO can simply be plucked from the fold without specific background or training in techology? After all, no matter how strategic the efforts of an IT group, if the “lights go out”, that’s all that’s going to matter. That is, if the basics that people have come to expect fail to be met, it won’t matter how experienced or inexperienced the CIO.
It’s important to understand that I don’t believe that the CIO needs to be the “alpha tech” in the office. After all, except in very small organizations, the CIO probably won’t be configuring switches, creating LUNs on a SAN or making sure that VMware is configured to fail over. However, the CIO should:
- Know what is and is not possible – to a reasonable extent – with the network hardware on hand.
- Understand – at least at a basic level – what it means to create a LUN and how much capacity there is in the organization.
- Realize that VMware can be configured for automated failover to meet disaster recovery requirements.
More of the TechRepublic article from Scott Lowe