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Major Challenges Will Continue for CIOs in 2010

Major Challenges Will Continue for CIOs in 2010
By Jennifer LeClaire

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In 2010, many CIOs will still face limited budgets and mandates to do more with less. Gartner reports that CIO effectiveness is closely linked to enterprise effectiveness. CIOs in less-effective enterprises need to prove the value of IT beyond cost reductions, while CIOs in highly effective enterprises focus more on growth and profitability.

If 2009 was a year of never-ending challenges for CIOs, 2010 may dare IT professionals to step it up even further. Budgets are still tight and mandates to drive innovation in the data center, across applications, and in the cloud still stand.

All this means CIOs are tasked with finding ways to not just do more with less, but to be increasingly more effective in the way they drive the virtuous cycle of IT value.

With all this in mind, what is the top challenge for CIOs in 2010? There is no single answer -- or a single strategy for how CIOs should tackle those challenges. That's because not all CIOs are the same. But there are some commonalities and key takeaways that can help CIOs prepare for the challenging year ahead.

According to Gartner Executive Programs CIO Agenda Survey reports, CIO effectiveness is closely linked to enterprise effectiveness in terms of the enterprise's ability to set and achieve financial and strategic goals. In essence, highly effective CIOs -- and the enterprises they serve -- have different priorities than their less-capable competitors.

"For CIOs in highly effective enterprises, the highest-priority challenges are all about enterprise performance and outcomes -- for example, growth and profitability. These CIOs are trying to strengthen the business capabilities that their enterprises' strategies demand, such as rapid integration of merged or acquired companies, or strong product-development expertise," said Richard Hunter, vice president and Gartner fellow in Gartner's CIO Research Group.

Challenging CIO Effectiveness

By contrast, Hunter said, for CIOs in less-effective enterprises, the high-priority challenges are often about establishing IT as a peer contributor to enterprise goals as opposed to a utility function whose success is measured in terms of cost reduction. For those CIOs, challenges tend to be framed in terms of IT process capabilities and IT operating efficiencies.

"For CIOs in less-effective enterprises, the aspirational challenge is to position IT as a strategic peer within the enterprise. To do so, the CIO must first show that IT is indeed an efficiently run organization," said Hunter, coauthor of The Real Business of IT. "Establishing an IT service catalog and running benchmarks are examples of the ways that CIOs address this challenge. With value for money demonstrated, the next step is to initiate the 'virtuous cycle' of IT value, beginning with solid governance in the form of a transparent process for creating and choosing options for investment in change supported by IT." (continued...)

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