Dear CIOs: Speed matters

It’s time to hit the accelerator and turn that sluggish IT department into a high-velocity producer of business results.

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Top CIOs are speeding up the IT department’s ability to deliver business value — at the ever-quickening pace of the digital economy. Traditional IT department practices, with long lead times for requirements gathering, coding, testing, and adding hardware, can’t match the needs of today’s businesses, where “time to market” is measured in weeks, not years. As John Marcante, global CIO at Vanguard, urges his IT department: “Deliver business value at start-up speed.”

My IDC report, Accelerating IT’s Delivery of Business Value in the Digital Economy ($$$$), provides peer advice about how to:

  • Develop an IT culture built for speed.
  • Exploit cloud infrastructure and rapid application development.
  • Slash IT complexity through standardization.
  • Streamline IT processes by busting bureaucracy.

In addition to an interview with Vanguard’s John Marcante, the report includes valuable insights from Niel Nickolaisen, CTO at O.C. Tanner, and Greg Tacchetti, CIO at State Auto Insurance.

Pixabay photo released under Creative Commons CC0.

Elite CIOs drive IT with the business metrics that matter

Top CIOs have learned that the best way to demonstrate the value of IT to other business executives — and guide their own IT staffs — is to focus on the business metrics that spell success in their organization and industry. Traditional IT-oriented metrics don’t resonate with other C-suite executives, thus painting the CIO as out of touch with the business. But CIOs can reposition themselves as strategic leaders by connecting IT work with the metrics that matter to other department heads.

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Failing to use business metrics in C-suite conversations “anchors IT into a bygone era,” says Joe Topinka, CIO at SnapAV.

My IDC report, “Using Business Metrics to Drive IT ($$$$), describes how savvy CIOs do the following:

  • identify the business metrics that matter to the C-suite
  • consider modern metrics such as Net Promoter Score
  • map the business metrics to the actual IT staff work
  • incorporate the business metrics into shared bonus/compensation plans

In addition to Joe Topinka, the report quotes Niel Nickolaisen, CTO at O.C. Tanner, and Julia Anderson, global CIO at Smithfield Foods Inc.

Pixabay photo released under Creative Commons CC0.

Study: Remote shareholder meetings mean bad news

When a company moves its shareholder meeting to a very remote location, that usually means the company is trying to hide bad financial news, according to a study reported in “The NBER Digest.”

Companies that held a shareholder meeting at least 50 miles from their headquarters and at least 50 miles from a major airport experienced an abnormal six-month return of [negative] -6.8 percent, the study found.

“We find that managers schedule long-distance meetings when the firm is experiencing adverse operating performance that is not already known to the market,” the authors said. “Moving the meeting may be part of a strategy to reduce attendance or forestall questioning from audience members, so that the chance is reduced for questions or confrontations that might force the managers to reveal what they know.”

The working paper, “Evasive Shareholder Meetings” by Yuanzhi Li and David Yermack, was summarized in the July 2014 issue of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) newsletter. Continue reading “Study: Remote shareholder meetings mean bad news”

Consumers willing to pay more for eco-friendly food packaging

When it comes to food and beverage packaging, consumers are most likely to pay more for value-added features that relate to freshness and sustainability, according to a global study by Ipsos InnoQuest.

On a global basis, consumers were most likely to say they would pay more for “packaging that keeps food fresh longer” (55%) and “packaging that is environmentally-friendly” (55%). Following freshness and environmental benefits, consumers said they were likely to pay more for packaging that is re-usable (42%) and easier to use (39%).

Interestingly, more sophisticated packaging features were less likely to motivate consumers to spend more: packaging that prevents mess or spills, keeps food and beverages at the right temperature, and makes it easier to eat and drink on-the-go ranked lowest (34%, 33% and 31%, respectively).

Hiring managers discriminate against the long-term unemployed

“Employers statistically discriminate against workers with longer unemployment durations,” according to a labor-market study reported by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

The researchers sent fake résumés to 3,000 real, online job postings — noting the length of unemployment on the résumé — and then tracked the “callbacks” from employers. “The likelihood of receiving a callback for a job interview sharply declines with unemployment duration,” the NBER reported in its March 2013 Digest.

The effect is most pronounced in the first eight months after becoming unemployed, according to the study (NBER Working Paper No. 18387) by Kory Kroft, Fabian Lange and Matthew Notowidigo.