From the Editor-in-chief

In last month’s issue I referenced the concerns reflected in our annual survey about senior business managers.

I also said that, while on the breakfast tour to present the results, I would try to find CIOs who had established a supportive partnership with their non-IT peers and report their secrets.

I got to speak with many people both in and outside the IT department and, though I wouldn’t claim any statistical validity for what follows, there were some interesting views expressed.

More of the people I spoke with were critical of their counterparts – IT of business people and business people of IT – than were complimentary. Perhaps my questions in the context of the survey results had an influence on responses.

Some examples from the IT community…

“Many executives don’t want IT to be a business partner. They seem to view the IS department as a kind of store where you can order some hardware, and maybe an application or two.”

“It’s difficult to create a partnership if they [the business managers] are unwilling to share their business plans.”

And from the business managers…

“They [IT] are not willing to talk to me about business. They’re all speeds and feeds and bells and whistles.”

They’re old and very familiar charges, but versions closely resembling these quotes still appear to be popular.

On the positive side, there was a general acknowledgement of the need for a more cooperative relationship between IT and business, and a couple of pointers from CIOs who have had some success creating it.

Said one, “Everything matters. If someone is having a problem with his e-mail or his notebook, that’s IT. If we don’t take it seriously, we lose credibility for the big things. I try to stay close to all my key users and ‘chat’ to find out what’s going on in their minds, and to see if they have problems that aren’t being fixed. Some of those conversations also give me a heads-up on plans, and maybe an opening to make a contribution to the thinking.”

And from one who is clearly part of the senior team, “I tell my peers that IT is everyone’s business. I want the executive team to make collective decisions about how we fund IT projects, just as with any other projects. My job is to make sure the funds are used effectively, and that the projects deliver.”

There’s a report on the survey in this issue’s Trendlines, and the full survey results can be found at