CIO priorities: What must we do better in 2011?

A panel of CIOs spell out their New Year's resolutions...

Analysts are always telling CIOs what the priorities should be for the next 12 months. But what do CIOs themselves see as the main areas of focus? Mark Samuels reports.

The return to the office after the New Year holiday brings its own customs: the misery of the commute, a heaving inbox and a desire to do things better in 2011.

Such aims are accompanied by another tradition, one where analysts and consultants rush to tell you about the key technologies the business must purchase and implement during 2011.

But are these technology projects the real focus for CIOs? Here, IT leaders discuss their priorities for 2011. These discussions are grouped around five key themes. What seems apparent from such themes is that business leadership, not simply IT implementation, will be top of the CIO's priority list for 2011.

1. Understanding the business perspective

Andrew Abboud, CIO at City University in London, has one governing thought for IT leaders in 2011: "CIOs should spend little, if any, time on technology and focus instead on raising their game and profile from a business perspective."

When it comes to his own approach, Abboud says he will concentrate on the business perspective by focusing on the important, rather than just urgent, activities that executives sometimes forget.

Man at a business meeting

CIOs should spend more time communicating the positives of recent tech investments so the business value of IT is understood
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Abboud groups such perspective-based activities into communication, education and engagement. First, driving through the benefits of recent investments and communicating the positives so the business value of IT is understood.

Second, educating senior management about the opportunities presented through new technology, such as social media and mobile devices. Finally, deepening his understanding of customer needs and the reality of how IT services are delivered: "I will do this by going back to the shop floor," says Abboud.

2. Precisely defining governance

Recession and recovery bring a series of economic challenges. Old and established ways of delivering IT for the business are analysed and new cost-effective means of production demanded.

Step forward the CIO, who has to lead the business towards a promised land of better - and cheaper - IT. This new IT is based on key technological approaches, such as the cloud, virtualisation, collaboration and mobility - and the CIO must provide a tightly defined framework for delivery.

"It is clear that we have a new normal in terms of baseline IT spend post-recession and with this new baseline comes a requirement to...