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.


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.

CIOs: The systems that got you here won’t get you there

Leading CIOs are working to escape the grip of outdated IT, which is impeding their efforts to compete in the digital economy. Why? It’s hard to be a digital innovator if your technology is anchored in the past. Plus, the IT staffers who know how to run the old systems are retiring.


My IDC report on “Breaking Free of Legacy Systems” ($$$$) identifies the best practices of three CIOs: Michael Macrie, senior vice president and CIO at Land O’Lakes Inc.; Kevin Steele, CIO at the National Restaurant Association; and Anil Cheriyan, then-CIO at SunTrust Banks Inc.

The report covers how CIOs can:

  • Educate the C-suite about technical debt
  • Analyze legacy system costs and risks, then prioritize modernization
  • Develop roadmaps for modernizing legacy systems
  • Manage the IT talent issues: recruitment, retraining, and retirement


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.


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.

A history of creating strategic reports for C-suite executives

During my years at Computerworld, I created “Executive Briefing” reports for IT executives on specific enterprise technology topics. Then, at CIO magazine / in 2012, I created another series of strategic guides; this monthly series of ebooks (in PDF format) could be downloaded free of charge, after registration.



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”