Leadership first for winning CIOs

Leadership is the critical competency a CIO must master to survive 2002.

This is the mantra behind a new global report by Meta Group of more than 500 CIOs from around the world, 9 per cent of whom were from Australia.

It says the onus is on the CIO to reverse the perception that IS is a business drain and to promote it as a "value centre".

"With more than 50 per cent of organisations cutting IT budgets by more than 20 per cent, CIOs don't have much room for error," said Louis Boyle, vice president, Meta Group's executive advisory service.

TMP Worldwide director of infrastructure services, Derek Brown, agreed with Boyle, saying that tougher economic conditions over the year forced the recruitment firm to focus more on world's best practice (Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) in TMP's case), benchmarking, and renegotiating contracts with IT suppliers.

"No [IT] purchasing is done unless it is absolutely critical and produces quick ROI," he said.

Brown said it was high time IT executives stepped into the limelight and celebrated their business counterparts' successes made possible through the IT. "Historically, this is something IT managers have not been good at," he said.

Meta Group vice president of executive directions, Jonathan Poe said CIOs from the financial services, trade and transport, minerals and metal, and retail sectors are now under increased pressure to produce faster ROI on their businesses' IT infrastructure because these sectors were operating in multiple markets.

He said technology alone will not help an organisation survive in a leaner, faster global market.

"You can have good IT infrastructure, but if you have a bad business model, that can cause catastrophes," he said, adding: "CIOs must ask themselves what's inside their organisation. By looking at the intelligence inside business systems like the supply chain, the IT shop can tap into information on customer demand, or identify wider market conditions or gaps in inventory, then they can achieve things like greater customer life-time value and help make the parent business competitive."

Other core competencies that Meta rates in its "IT value" skill set are risk management skills like compliance, business continuity planning and project management, and soft skills around human capital development like team building and communication skills.

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