A new generation of CEOs-not in age but in perspective-has embraced the notion of CIOs as strategic business peers.
Stories by Richard Pastore
"If you can get an organization to move faster by creating a separate [Web development] group, then you should do it," says Brian Farrar, chief operating officer at the Chicago consultancy Xpedior Inc.
See where the potholes and speed bumps are lurking Dotcom startups have been, and remain, potential paths paved in gold and glory, beckoning everyone--from junior programmers to CIOs. But the fickle stock market has warned dotcom hitchhikers that they're in for a rough ride. The demise of Toysmart.com this past spring shows that even well-publicized companies with capable CIOs like John Puckett can crash and burn.
A year ago, when CaliMed Inc. (not a real company) CIO David Shepard was feeling particularly paranoid about his new job, he might have viewed this new CFO as some minion of hell, loosed upon the streets of Northern California with the singular purpose of hunting him down to torment his living soul. But today a more relaxed, more mature Shepard can see that Scott Brunt is no demon posing as a bespectacled MBA and CPA with a penchant for startling Bill Cosby-style sweaters. In reality Brunt is simply another challenge, a tough-as-nails chief financial officer that CaliMed brought in last month to apply more fiscal discipline to the in-progress turnaround.
CIO brings together an IT veteran and a newcomer for a help session on influencing peers and staff in a time of restructuring.
In April 1999, one of Capital Blue Cross's health-care insurance plans had been in the field for three years but hadn't performed as well as expected for the Harrisburg, Pa.-based company. The ratio of premiums to claims payments wasn't meeting historic norms. In order to revamp the product features or pricing to boost performance, the company needed to understand why it was underperforming. To do this, it needed to analyze relational customer usage data-medical claims, drug claims and demographics of its 1.5 million customers-to figure out the problem and where to make adjustments. Unfortunately, that data was dispersed in transactional systems, stored in flat files. It had been a struggle to make meaningful deductions using existing methods of reentering transactional flat file data into spreadsheets.
John R.'s bosses want a lot. They want to have access to trading-oriented information anytime, anywhere. They want him to build the company's fledgling IT department and grow its infrastructure. And the CEO wants John to assist him personally in evaluating potential investment partnerships.
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