Remember the story of the Three Little Pigs? "Little pig, little pig, let me come in," wheedles the wolf. "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin," the pig stoutly replies. "Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!" says the wolf. And the wolf does blow in the house made of straw, and the one made of sticks. But huff and puff as he might, he cannot blow down the house made of bricks. So what's your house made of? And who's the wolf at your door?
Our cover story reports on the rise of the CTO position and its opportunity and threat for CIOs. The opportunity is significant. IT executives looking for a change have a new and exciting career path open to them in e-commerce--one where they get to roll up their sleeves and work on the hottest technologies of our day at startup e-businesses. Others have the chance to lead their existing organizations into the new economy by championing e-commerce initiatives and bringing in new talent to direct those efforts.
CIOs are being courted to sit on dotcom and high-tech boards of directors and even to advise venture firms on the technical viability of their prospective investments. Without question, the opportunities have never been more plentiful, varied and financially rewarding--if your house includes internet building blocks and the foundation to support them.
Part of the foundation lies in the guts of your organization's existing systems. In the new economy, "the flow of products and services will be intertwined inextricably with the flow of electronic information," writes Executive Editor Derek Slater in our special report on the integrated enterprise. "And the rocky path that leads from today's commerce to that future state has a name: Integration."
While all large organizations are engaged in some type of integration project, the real goal--to get information from anywhere within the organization to anywhere in your company's value chain--remains a holy grail, desirable yet unattainable. But as daunting as it may seem to design a truly integrated enterprise, this is a task that CIOs must take on "before writing another API or buying another web/host integration package," Slater believes.
By the way, if you want to know why I think the hoopla over the CTO position is really just a symptom of the scary changes that are afoot (and not the actual wolf), you'll have to read Senior Writer Mindy Blodgett's article, "The Wolf at the Door."