Experience teaches tech know-how

There’s no substitute for experience, especially when it comes to recognizing value in information technology — and knowing how to make the most of it.

The big corporations have written the book on what to do and what not to do in computing. They’ve made the investments, endured the expensive failures and reaped the rewards throughout decades of hit and miss IT projects — from mainframes, to client/server, to Web-enablement — in the continuing effort to build today’s world of highly distributed computing.

To truly understand how to manage expectations and recognize necessary payoffs in IT, talk to a CIO. It’s the CIO’s job to ultimately “connect the dots” between computing’s real capabilities and what’s absolutely important for the business. It’s the CIO’s job to ultimately “connect the dots” between computing’s real capabilities and what’s absolutely important for the business. Text The CIO is the techno-arbiter, continually conferring with other C-level execs trying to figure out what a business is all about, where it needs to go and how IT can get it there. More often than not, the CIO is the one individual with the most influence when it comes to major IT purchases by large corporations. That means they’d better get it right most of the time. Their experience is gold and their word could be gospel to those not so savvy in the ways of business computing.

What have CIOs learned about IT investments? IT World Canada’s reader survey late last year of more than 250 Canadian top IT executives within large businesses suggests a whole lot.

For example, what do many managers of information technology in large business say when it comes to identifying the greatest inhibitor to their effectiveness as champions of computing? Unrealistic and/or unknown business expectations in terms of what information technology can do for a business, say senior IT professionals, is among the biggest problems they face.

Even in the largest of companies, there can exist a discerning lack of knowledge about what computing can and should provide for the corporation. CIOs wrestle with user perceptions that run the gamut. There are those business users who believe IT is a panacea and should provide everything a business needs to make it successful. Other users don’t know what to expect, and are apt to consider computing a void — a necessary, but grudgingly accepted, business expense that reaps little or no measurable value. Both views task the CIO with educating them about the reality of IT — that technology can do some things, but not everything.

CIOs have learned that IT never works in isolation. What’s needed, prior to purchasing IT, is a clear understanding of what business is about. Simply put: know your business and you’ll know what IT you’ll need to buy.

Poor investment decisions lead to short IT careers.

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Related links:

Does IT matter? Pundits sound off in Toronto

Why IT is now a board-level concern

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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