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Leading CIOs are working to escape the grip of outdated IT, which is impeding their efforts to compete in the digital economy.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.

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.



The future of asset management: No tool left behind

Stanley Black & Decker, at its annual shareholder meeting April 16, touted its line of RFID-embedded “smart tools” as the future of the industrial tool market.

The company’s ProtoID tools – such as sockets, wrenches and pliers – have RFID chips that are embedded in the tools (not applied to the exterior) so that they can be located at any time. The company also offers CribMaster storage cabinets that automatically keep track of the RFID-embedded tools.

“It’s especially important for people in airplane hangars, on military bases or in other critical applications where mechanics need to know where every single socket is, for instance, before a plane can fly or before a Hummer can leave its garage,” said John F. Lundgren, chairman and CEO of the company.

The CribMaster website notes that “whether it’s due to waste, hoarding, or even theft, inefficient tracking and control of these inventory items can quickly cause major problems.”

At the shareholders meeting, Lundgren said: “These tools make facilities and workers both safer and more productive, and we believe they’re the future of the industrial tool market.”

Four emerging risks for corporations

The Corporate Executive Board’s “Risk Integration Strategy Council (RISC)” has released the January 2011 “Emerging Risks Update,” (pdf) noting the following risks on the horizon for enterprise risk managers:

Leaks of sensitive corporate information like strategic planning documents or embarrassing memos (think Wikileaks, which is on its way to becoming a verb, like Google). Strategy: Bolster information security, especially as “new technologies and platforms like cloud computing, SaaS, and social networking gain prominence.”

Shortage of rare earth minerals, an essential component of clean energy technology, computers and electronics (e.g., mobile phones). China controls 97%. Strategy: Other countries (including the U.S.) with deposits of rare earth minerals can open or re-open their mines, “but it can take up to [10] years for a new mine to begin operations.” Meanwhile, “world leaders” must discourage China from unfairly exploiting its position. Continue reading “Four emerging risks for corporations”

17 questions to ask about that gee-whiz tech development

Science-fiction author David Brin explains his method of examining the future:

“The top method is simply to stay keenly attuned to trends in the laboratories and research centres around the world, taking note of even things that seem impractical or useless,” says Brin. “You then ask yourself: ‘What if they found a way to do that thing ten thousand times as quickly/powerfully/well? What if someone weaponised it? Monopolised it? Or commercialised it, enabling millions of people to do this new thing, routinely? What would society look like, if everybody took this new thing for granted?'”

Those are good questions, as far as they go. My methodology for examining new developments (especially technologies) is to ask additional questions, some with a decidedly negative slant:

  • What if it runs into legal or political problems?
  • What if it can be used by criminals?
  • What if it raises ethical or religious objections?
  • What if people prefer doing it the “old way”?
  • What if a cheaper alternative overtakes it?
  • What if it’s too expensive to make or distribute (in volume)?
  • What if it lacks the necessary ecosystem or support infrastructure?
  • What if it runs smack into a counter-trend?
  • What if entrenched interests squelch it?
  • What if it has unintended consequences?
  • What if the roll-out is botched, glitchy, underfunded, embarrassing?

And, when will it emerge from the Hype Cycle‘s “peak of inflated expectations” and “trough of disillusionment”?