New “C” in town

There’s a new “C” title in the executive suite.

Well, not really. But nonetheless it’s fun to create new, meaningless titles. Are you ready? Let’s hear it for the “CF-No” as in, “No, your customer relationship management project is not approved…. No as well to that business intelligence proposal you submitted.”

Granted, I’m preaching to the choir. But the two-year reign of the CF-No, the self-proclaimed king of tech, is about to come crashing to an end. If I were a CIO, I would safeguard all the proposals I submitted to the executive management team in the fall of 2000. Why go back that far? The monthly CIO Magazine Tech Poll points clearly to November 2000 as the month when the CF-No began a palace coup in the corner office.

Our Tech Poll also reports that 15 percent to 20 percent of businesses “never slowed down” their tech purchases. Sometime in 2003, those companies–possibly your competitors–are going to introduce offerings in the market that generate revenue, enhance customer acquisition and reduce cost. Expect the call from your CEO asking why your company hasn’t matched them. Alas, those fall 2000 proposals just may save your job as you remind the boss that the CF-No thumbed them down.

CF-Nos have adroitly transformed the profession of information technology from an art to a science by putting every IT project under the quantitative ROI microscope. Sure, some of the stuff CIOs offered up during the late 1990s under the guise of mission critical was junk. But not all. And there’s a case to be made that the most important implementations of technology do not have a linear payback period. But don’t tell that to the CF-Nos, who continue to rule the lives of CIOs with tighter financial control leashes.

That control won’t last much longer. I predict by the end of 2003, there will be a plethora of very public, very embarrassing corporate IT infrastructure collapses. The culprit: aging tech infrastructures. Infrastructures that the CF-No refused to invest in during the turbulent times of 2001 and 2002. The short-lived reign of the CF-No will collapse along with those useless, out-of-date infrastructures.

The January 2003 CIO Magazine Tech Poll reported some good news: A significant percentage of businesses intend to increase tech spending throughout 2003. And, by far, most of that investment will go to new hardware and software initiatives.

My advice to CIOs is to really get to know the most senior sales executives in your company. If there’s a chief marketing officer, make sure that person is high on your buddy list. And, if you want to get a new accounting or business intelligence software project off the ground, go see your CF-No with the question, Do you think our aging infrastructure can handle the newly mandated accounting requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002?