CIOs - plumbers or architects?

Eighty per cent of chief executive officers (CEOs) have no e-business strategy, but many expect their companies to earn significant slices of total revenues through e-commerce within the next five years, according to research by the Information Group.

This lack of strategy alarms Des Lee, chief executive of UK-based The Information Group, who used his keynote address to the CIO Anatomy of IT Partnerships conference last week to warn his audience against minimal CIO involvement in developing e-business strategies.

"Our research shows that 90 per cent of CIOs have no input into their company's e-commerce strategy," Lee said. "Are CIOs plumbers or architects of new e-business strategies? We have to make ourselves heard, [because now] we stand maligned for causing the Y2K problem."

"Before you start with e-commerce, you have to get into bed with your board and ask ‘what are we trying to do, what is our goal'. This is where most new ventures go wrong."

Prevailing attitudes are the "biggest barriers of all" to new business strategies, Lee said, citing his experience at Rowntree.

"When I was in charge of IT and security at Rowntree, the attitude was that ‘if I couldn't figure it out then it wouldn't happen'," he said. "I called meetings [on security] and nobody came. I had no budget. All this changed the day the CEO received a [telephoned] threat on his life. I tell you, that call was the best 10 cents I ever spent." w

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