The Manager with No Name

Cue the Ennio Morricone soundtrack . . .

I don't know about you, but I see so many IT industry research reports that I've taken to arranging the food on my plate in neat wedges. My girlfriend is worried, last night I ate 22 per cent fewer potatoes than usual.

My eccentricities aside, the steady flood of numbers, graphs and charts that flows from the industry's many research organisations makes it easy to overlook genuinely revealing business insights - insights that aren't necessarily aimed at a report's target audience.

Case in point: the recently released Compass World IT Strategy Census 2000. The study purports to reveal "the prominence of IT issues in the thinking of today's chief executives", and is the product of an in-depth survey of over 400 CEOs from large corporations around the world. When I say large, I mean large: 92 per cent have revenue over $US100 million per year, 36 per cent of those in the $US1-10 billion range.

As the report confirms, CEOs and other senior executives have many things to think about, chief among them profitability, business growth, gauging the value of IT and, of course, e-commerce.

However, what makes the Compass report so interesting is not what it tells us CEOs have on their minds, but what it tells us isn't on their minds - namely, the intricacies of their company's e-commerce strategy.

According to the World IT Strategy Census 2000, CEOs now consider themselves more IT literate and more capable of assessing the business opportunities offered by IT than ever before. In particular, the Compass report draws attention to high expectations in the area of business-to-business e-commerce, where companies of all kinds are reaping the benefits of putting their supply chain management online.

But when asked about their ability to make executive decisions based on IT, the confidence level of the executives surveyed dropped markedly. Where 47 per cent of respondents felt "very comfortable" understanding the business potential of IT, only 35 per cent felt similarly comfortable making crucial IT decisions. 13 per cent proclaimed outright that they were uncomfortable with such tasks.

That's where you come in. As is hardly surprising for such a new and rapidly expanding field, you go by many names -- e-business architect, e-commerce project leader, development manager, team leader, to list a few - but whatever your title, the responsibility is the same: to e-enable your business.

As the Compass report and others indicate, senior management may now have a better understanding of IT, but its eyes remain as fixed as ever on the profit line. CEOs are not rolling up their shirtsleeves and dirtying their hands with their company's e-commerce strategy. Sure, they expect IT executives to keep them abreast of the latest trends, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts of assembling your company's e-business architecture, you're on your own.

Well, not entirely. We're here for you.

Matt Rodgers - Editor

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