Gartner's 10 CIO resolutions to survive 2009

Analyst Gartner has tabled its "10 CIO resolutions for 2009" to help CIOs excel and deliver better personal and team outcomes beyond their core IT agenda.

Analyst Gartner has tabled its "10 CIO resolutions for 2009" to help CIOs excel and deliver better personal and team outcomes beyond their core IT agenda.

"The unfolding economic crisis of late 2008 has created a more challenging situation than many businesses and most CIOs have ever experienced," said Mark Raskino, an analyst at Gartner.

"They face a daunting and uncertain year ahead. Many CIOs have already been instructed to operate with lower budgets and many more expect such instructions. Chief executives need to cut short-term costs very quickly to cope with volatile market sentiment in many industries and countries, but without damaging recovery growth prospects," Mark Raskino said.

Gartner's 10 CIO resolutions for 2009 are grouped into four strategic themes:

Theme 1: Reinforce enduring strengths and assets

1. Start building an alumni network: To maintain legacy skills and complex experienced pools of labour, Gartner recommends CIOs establish alumni networks. This could include a semi-official company IT alumni association with its own web page, use of web social networking tools and re-establishing bounty schemes, where staff are paid for recruits they bring in.

2. Stop being the exception that enforces the rules: In tense times, leading by example matters more than usual, from body language to dress code, and from vocabulary to attention-span. CIOs should design and adopt two or three key behaviours to match the required direction they want their reports to follow such as turning away their option to upgrade to the glitziest new smartphone. Such signals will cause people to comment and think about their own values and behaviours.

3. Start scouting for key talent: As large numbers of laid-off people flood the market, some salary-level attrition is inevitable and even good people could find themselves without a position for months.

Theme 2: Prepare for the next change, sooner than you think

4. Start preparing for the unexpected: "It's important to challenge and develop the thinking styles and frame of reference of your leadership team as well as yourself. We advise CIOs to find people to join the discussion who don't fit the existing mould and perhaps even deliberately choose people who will irritate the majority," said Gartner.

5. Start using social systems yourself, visibly. Gartner says that CIOs need to start visibly using social networks themselves to kick-start their participation from other staff. Lurking in quiet observation is not enough. Gartner advised CIOs to encourage the leadership team into using social media more openly to communicate internally and externally to rebuild brand confidence, energise the company culture, develop ideas and refine solutions.

6. Start taking cloud seriously: Cloud computing is a major new stage in the evolution of commercial IT that CIOs must take seriously but at this stage it can be confusing. In 10 years, much of IT will be served this way, so CIOs need to start leading their organisations safely in this inevitable direction, or risk being sidelined by its progress. They should first set aside a reading day in 2009 to immerse themselves in the issues, terms and sub-trends, then personally subscribe to and test a variety of cloud applications.

Theme 3: Survive in 2009 without collateral damage

7. Stop ignoring people and opting for soft targets: CIOs will be under pressure to be seen taking swift action. There will be temptation to cut quickly in areas where staff is working on longer-term goals that suddenly seem less relevant. However, CIOs should not lay off the people they will need long-term and who will be hard to replace just because their work is not an immediate deliverable (for example, enterprise architects, emerging technologies staff). Instead, they should require their temporary tactical redeployment elsewhere. Similarly, they shouldn't cut projects in areas which are in the hype cycle 'trough of disillusionment' just because they are unfashionable. CIOs should defend them if they will still yield significant value in a year or two.

8. Start offering your vendors a free lunch: CIOs will require vendors to deliver flexibility and cost savings and will need to reset the style of the relationship. At the same time, suppliers will be keen on staying in close touch, working hard to attract CIOs off-site for 'face time', so CIOs must resolve to politely decline vendor courtesy trips in 2009. Both sides must give ground and CIOs must signal a reset to a new style of interchange.

9. Stop fearing the future and start driving it: CIOs should reflect conspicuous frugality but not be defined by it. They should resolve to occasionally and visibly splash out a little - where it really matters to staff moral such as training courses or software development tools. Work on real money saving such as flying economy instead of business class, but avoid empty-gesture cost cutting such as taking cookies off the plate at management meetings.

Theme 4 and Resolution 10 - newer technologies to get experience of in 2009: With so much work to do, Gartner reminded CIOs that they need to protect the time to stay in touch and get 'hands-on' with some key technologies in 2009:

e-book readers

Google Chrome

Building mini cloud applications

YouTube as a default search engine for a day

HD teleconferencing

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