Cost-cutting, thankfully, didn't dominate the language of IT this year the way it did in 2002. A review of CIO's 2003 coverage shows that CIOs were, instead, locked in a struggle for control. Control of spending, yes, but more important, control over the levers of IT investment. CIOs were trying to get a grip on new government regulations; they were studying ways to improve network reliability and systems security. It also was a time for CIOs to brush up on techniques for finding and keeping good people — whether here or abroad. And to solidify their position in the executive suite. A look back at the big stories:
February 15 — Network failure: All systems down
It takes constant vigilance — and the replacement of creaky network gear — to maintain a modern IT infrastructure. That's the lesson Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center learned the hard way when a network outage forced the facility to divert emergencies to other hospitals for two days and required doctors to revert to paper patient records. Fixing the problems took a total rethink of network architecture, disaster plans and IT staff assignments. Later in 2003, Beth Israel's CIO claimed that these efforts protected his systems against a summer onslaught of Internet-borne worm attacks.
April 15 -- What to do when Uncle Sam wants your data
In recent years the federal government has responded to major crises with new laws that place a heavy emphasis on IT systems and data access. The Patriot Act, a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, allows the FBI to ask retailers and other businesses for customer records — requests that violate many companies' privacy policies. Caught between their customers and the government, CIOs in 2003 needed to revise privacy policies and seek legal advice. Good relations with lawyers was a theme that carried through the year, as other government rules — applying to issues such as corporate governance and medical records privacy — hit the top of CIO agendas.
May 1 — Portfolio management, how to do it right
Though CIOs are no strangers to fiscal management, 2003 saw a renewed interest in such disciplines as project portfolio management, a process for prioritizing projects that align with business goals. (In 2003, CIO also ran stories focusing on the Balanced Scorecard and Six Sigma.) Why this emphasis now? More than ever, CEOs are demanding that IT investments return immediate dollars to the top and bottom lines.
June 1— Inside outsourcing in India
CIOs at United Technologies Corp. were sending work to Bangalore long before Indian call centers and programming shops hit the American media's radar. These outsourcing veterans learned that you need to control the work (choosing the right jobs for overseas technologists) and the relationships (managing expectations and performance) before you can reap the strategic and cost-cutting benefits of offshore outsourcing. BREAK