2004 to-do list

As you're formulating your goals for 2004, consider Gartner's advice. The IT research firm has issued its 10 "Must Do" resolutions for CIOs and IT director, which centre around driving IT innovation while holding down costs.

"CIOs must continue robust management of short-term issues, prepare responses to trend shifts that drive business complexity and uncertainty, and invest for the future. In short, they need centto cut costs and innovate simultaneously," says John Mahoney, research managing vice president at Gartner.

Gartner's 10 recommendations are as follows:

1. Refresh hardware bought before 2000 and aging software. You can only put off purchases for so long, and Gartner notes that aging hardware and software will hinder business agility.

2. Continue consolidating IT infrastructures and applications. This will free up extra budget money for other uses.

3. Plan for new competencies and give your most valuable staff an unexpected pay raise. These steps will help you retain staffers whose skills may be in short supply when the economy improves.

4. Make clear technology choices and set policy for the future. Consider reviewing Linux desktops and open source apps, blade servers, VoIP gear, instant messaging and collaborative tools, and web services tools.

5. Stay in direct touch with key technology developments. Set policy regarding J2EE or .Net, wireless applications, and outsourcing.

6. Anticipate external drivers of uncertainty and complexity.

7. Migrate towards real-time infrastructure. Plan now for the long-term goal of migrating away from legacy platforms to tap server virtualization and scalable utility computing.

8. Create a business process skills competency centre. Retool your workforce by investing in business process skills development.

9. Build partnership management competencies and processes to support your business strategies.

10. Plan to overspend your budget. Lobby for more resources and don't let any of your budget go wasted.

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