Gartner Symposium 2010: Technology continues to affect multiple business functions

CIOs are being faced with 'a multi-speed world' and must marry IT with the business

CIOs must be more aware of CEO concerns as technology’s role in the enterprise continues to dominate multiple business functions, an analyst has warned.

Speaking at the Gartner Symposium in Sydney, analyst Dave Aron, said the role of the IT leader has become about more than technology in the organisation.

“Gartner has been spending more and more time trying to understand CEO and CFO concerns,” he said. “Why?"

"It’s less and less appropriate for IT leaders to only focus on IT developments. The world is more complex and the contribution IT is making is broader.”

With some IT managers , Aron said that the role of IT as a business function is being integrated into a service or product and that as a result, CIOs are required to adopt long-term outlooks.

“In this context of new rules and uncertainty, we see it as more and more important for IT leaders to be looking upwards and outwards,” he said. “To a certain extent we have to be agile to understand the different possibilities coming, and influence our business to take the right step.”

As well as maintaining a long term view of the industry and preparing for multiple market outcomes, Aron said future economic conditions pose a further challenge to CIOs.

“This is a not a time of great certainty...it’s a time defined by uncertainty and mixed signals,” he said. “We have to be agile and open to major opportunities.”

Being open to new opportunities has seen CIOs prepare for a multitude of real-world situations, with Aron saying that this provides an added complication to the role of the IT manager.

“We are being faced with a multi-speed world,” he said. “There’s more complexity than we’ve seen in recent history...more organisations are being impacted by more than one trend," Aron said.

"The complicated nature of technology trends will mean CIOs will need to be a trend setter rather than a follower."

“We have to be more specific and deliberate in designing our business and IT agenda rather than relying on trends and directions,” he said. “For CIOs the big message is to find ways to push the rest of the business to get more specific about business investments and the IT agenda.”

Despite recent reports that CFOs are hesitant to invest in major IT areas like cloud computing, Aron said maintaining a close relationship with the CFO was vital if CIOs are to measure IT spend and investments.

“Understand what the key financial drivers are throughout the business, and don’t assume the traditional methods you are using are appropriate.”

Aron’s sentiments come as fellow analyst, Peter Sondergaard, shared his insights on the lasting affect of the GFC; saying that despite a positive bounce back, CIOs will continue to face uncertain economic conditions as they enter 2011.

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