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New CIO Playbook: Positioning IT as Strategic to the Business

This gives the ability for the CIO to now have real intelligence on multiple levels

Chief Information Officer on Ulitzer

According to a Smart Enterprise Magazine CIO report, three-quarters of today's CIOs help their companies develop new products or services. Gartner Group's 2008 Worldwide Survey of CIOs, 85 percent of CIOs are now looking toward "IT to make the difference in their enterprise strategy."

This move away from "keeping the lights on" to a focus on business strategy and external customer interaction is completely changing the day to day activities of today's CIO. The result of IT's executive leadership becoming a "part of" vs. a "supporter of" the business is forcing a shift of culture

and mindset across the IT organization. If CIOs do not approach this change with a sound plan, inertia may set in due to passive/aggressive behavior and create operational risk.

We work with CIOs and their executive team to implement a playbook and use our design optimization tools based on our lessons learned having lived/survived/achieved through a

CIO role and organization transformation.

The three pillars of the CIO playbook incorporate design control processes, ensure alignment and sustain intelligence about how to leverage IT in driving the success of the business.

Pillar of Control
To institute change effectively, the playbook calls for gaining control thru service definition and instrumentation activities. The CIO team must solicit,

define, and document with the business a natural language "service plan or contract" that accurately reflects the day in the life of the business, the various nuances, business calendar events along with key performance indicators of user experience, volumes, peak loads, max users, business priorities of tiers of service entitlement, regulatory policies, and so forth.

This can simply be captured in spreadsheets and formatted into a service contract that is signed off with the business and incorporated into an operating level agreement with the production support team. (In the pillar of alignment below strategies for ensuring execution of the service plan are covered)

The implementation and discipline of sustained use of instrumentation is the other key component of gaining control. You can't change what you don't know! Three key tools of instrumentation will enable the CIO team to gain an accurate insight into what they have, how it is being used, and how the platform translates to user experience.

Application mapping and discovery tools provide the foundation with the creation of an accurate inventory database and dependency maps which help the executive team visualize and understand the limitations of the deployed legacy platform.

User Experience instrumentation captures the real time evolution of transactions as they are executing. This creates transparency and leverages the power of visualization to either identify to the business why investment and/or change is necessary OR to provide full transparency to the business that illustrates real time the IT platform is executing as required.

Usage consumption instrumentation provides objective data that structures a dialogue for the CIO team with the business on who uses what, when, and for how long. This empowers the CIO to guide the business accurately as to where investments need to be made and where priorities need to realigned based on the business strategy.

Pillar of alignment
As the CIO team asserts control, it then becomes necessary to ensure execution aligns to the defined requirements and behavior of the business.

It is strongly recommended that the CIO team implement strategies around both "execution" and "supply" management.

It is critical to note here that the definition of execution management is atypical to the traditional IT meaning and approach. A CIO and the executive IT team MUST implement "runtime control" and execution management enforcement of ensuring the right work gets done at the right time with the right resources.

Supply management by a CIO team incorporates the implementation of infrastructure and information resources that are exposed as services and made available on demand for consumption (provisioned, re-purposed, allocated, and so on, based on service policy). Additionally, all applications, information, and infrastructure services should be built on top of standardized plumbing (client, server, mediation and data).

Pillar of Intelligence
As the CIO begins to assert control and has implemented strategies that ensure alignment as described above, the opportunity arises for the new CIO to begin to drive innovation and direct contribution to the business strategy.

The implementation of product and portfolio management strategy becomes the next critical step. This is the discipline of managing, tracking and trending usage of the firm's digital assets as reusable component widgets. Such a practice provides transparency and intelligent insight into how the business supply chain leverages its assets to drive business.

What is important is how this gives the ability for the CIO to now have real intelligence on multiple levels to look at business opportunities and challenges.

The CIO can make recommendations that no one on the business side has -– insight into how the business is truly conducted (Instrumentation) and what it takes to deliver the business (Product & Portfolio Management).

No one else at the table will have deep insight in terms of end to end business delivery. This complements the typical operating committee insights which are based on direct experiences and client situations that business executives would have dealt with recently. The future is bright for the new CIO.

More Stories By Tony Bishop

Blueprint4IT is authored by a longtime IT and Datacenter Technologist. Author of Next Generation Datacenters in Financial Services – Driving Extreme Efficiency and Effective Cost Savings. A former technology executive for both Morgan Stanley and Wachovia Securities.

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