The traditional IT department has entered a period of massive transformation and CIOs are having to completely rethink the way they lead, strategize, and manage their careers. That was the message from Gartner analyst Ken McGee at arguably the boldest and most honest session at Gartner Symposium 2011.
McGee told the convocation of CIOs that it's time for drastic action and they need to stop doing a lot of the things that are traditional mainstays of IT strategy, and it needs to happen as soon as possible. He said that if you want to use IT to create value in your company as well as develop valuable experience for your career then you need to embrace "creative destruction."
The idea is that you create something new and don't worry about the fact that it will kill something old in the process. That's a natural part of transformation, in this line of thinking. McGee said CIOs should be guided by a "new CIO manifesto" in driving these changes and he gave four principles of this new manifesto, which I've listed below.
McGee then listed 16 IT best practices that IT leaders should eliminate as soon as possible. The list below has 15 items because McGee had No. 4 as a two-parter (business apps + technical infrastructure). I simply left it as a single item.
"New CIO manifesto"
- Information is just as important, if not more important than information technology.
- More than 50% of annual CIO project spending will be directed toward measurably improving the financial conditions of an enterprise.
- More than 50% of all enterprise information and IT spending will directly support revenue generating rather than expense related business processes.
- The incentive portion of CIO compensation will be derived from the amount of money created by the efforts of CIOs and their staffs.
IT practices to eliminate
- Reject annual mismatch between CEO priorities and IT's most funded projects
- Terminate support of projects that will not improve the income statement
- Abandon CIO priorities that do not directly support CEO priorities
- Stop recommending IT mega projects
- Abolish environment of little or no IT spending accountability
- Terminate existing applications that do not yield measurable business value
- End the practice of placing enterprise IT spending within the CIO's budget
- Eliminate IT-caused business model disruption "surprises"
- Eradicate "cloud-a-phobia"
- Abandon level 1, 2, and 3 tech support
- Cancel most IT chargeback systems
- Cease issuing most competitive bids
- Stop holding on to unfunded projects
- End discrimination against behavioral skills and social sciences
- Abandon IT's unbalanced support between front and back office
You've got to like Ken McGee's boldness here, because it is absolutely warranted. IT is facing rising responsibilities with stagnant budgets and it simply can't go on doing things the way it has in the past. It's completely unsustainable. IT has to stop thinking of itself as a business utility and start seeing itself as a business catalyst. In order to do that, it's going to have to think in business terms and economic impact for everything it does, from asking for a replacement router in a branch office to recommending a new cloud app to run customer service. That's ultimately what McGee is getting at, and while the idea has received lip service for years, it's time to use that principle to make some painful decisions that will reshape IT.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks.