letter from the publisher

IT Managers irrelevant to enterprise mobility?

I was struck recently by this headline that appeared in the daily news section of our Web site, ITworldcanada.com. It was a comment made at a vendor roundtable and it drew broad agreement. The panel’s view was that the IT department tries to make every project “a mission to Mars,” thereby missing out on often narrow windows of opportunity and quick-hit returns on investments.

It’s a story that originated in Australia, but it illustrates a distressing trend I’ve observed both here in Canada and in the U.S. Whether they’re talking about enterprise mobility, or customer relationship management, many vendors see the CIO and the IT department as a roadblock to sales. In many cases, acting on this belief, vendors try to bypass the CIO and gain the support of line-of-business executives or the CEO in the hope that their solutions will be endorsed and the wayward IT group forced into line.

Frequently the CIO is indeed a roadblock to sales. The question is: “Are CIOs being appropriately circumspect about vendor claims, and guided by the processes necessary to assess new technologies in the context of existing and planned infrastructure? Or are CIOs being short-sighted and slow to make decisions around opportunities their entrepreneurial line-of-business counterparts would jump on?”

I’m sure some of each is true, but if such a ploy is successful, what does that say about the CIO’s relationship with his or her clients and the corporate leader? If vendors, with the tacit agreement of their enterprise business contacts, are able to marginalize the CIO and the IT department, there’s clearly a lack of alignment between IT and the business, and it’s probably time for the CIO to reassess his or her options.

It’s dangerous for a CIO to be seen simply as a naysayer. It’s equally dangerous to take on projects or agree to short-cuts, unreasonable timelines or unrealistic expectations just to keep the peace. Our recent CIO Insider Survey shows that more CIOs are spending a significant portion of their time with internal clients. That’s an investment in relationships that should ensure inclusion. As a minimum, it will provide insights into the current hot business issues and the opportunity to selectively spend time with the right vendors before they can hijack your clients.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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