You Report To ... Who?

Beyond the endless discussions about death march CIOs who report to CFOs, and Chesire CIOs who have landed seats at the big table courtesy of their CEO-reporting relationship, are huge issues around how to make IT "work" in your company. Steve Andriole outlines a few, and how best to approach them, in this multi-part column.
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Beyond the endless discussions about death march CIOs who report to CFOs, and Cheshire CIOs who've landed seats at the big table courtesy of their CEO-reporting relationship, are huge issues around how to make IT "work" in your company. Here are a few of them:

  • The re-engineering of IT organizations will surface as one of the major corporate imperatives of the new millennium: Companies will look to IT to (really) integrate with the business and provide competitive advantage; organizations that fail to assume this new role will be ousted in favor of new regimes that "get it."
  • Speed and flexibility will become as important as consistency; "good 'ol boy" relationships will be (partially, not completely!) replaced by strategic partnerships that will be judged by performance - not historical inertia.
  • As skill sets become obsolete faster and faster, there will be pressure to change IT organizations at a moment's notice. This will dictate against large permanent in-house staffs organized to protect their existence. New applications pressures will kill entrenched bureaucracies and give rise to a new class of results-oriented hired guns.
  • The emphasis on business/IT alignment will increasingly focus on business requirements which in turn will lead to business applications and computing and communications infrastructure specifications.
  • Given the pace of technology change, it's essential that your organizational infers requirements and produce specifications quickly and efficiently. This will require companies to tilt toward staff with these kinds of capabilities as they proportionately tilt away from implementation skills. IT organizations will be driven by "architects" and "specifiers" - not programmers.

  • Companies will find it increasingly difficult - if not impossible - to keep their staffs current in the newest business technologies. This means that IT organizations by default will have to outsource certain skills. The approach that may make the most sense is one which recognizes that future core competencies will not consist of in-house implementation expertise but expertise that can abstract, synthesize, integrate, design, plan and manage IT.
  • How many of the above drivers hit home?

    The components of your organization strategy appear in Figure 1.

    Business Strategy Linkages

    If you live in a decentralized organization - where the central IT organization owns the enterprise computing and communications infrastructure and the lines of business own their applications - pay very special attention to IT organization. Unless you're prepared to fight lots of religious wars between central IT and the lines of business, organize your internal IT professionals in ways that support the lines of business.

    If your current organizational structure in any way, shape or form encourages an adversarial relationship between central IT and the lines of business then your organizational structure is flawed.


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