It’s a familiar job description: make past IT investments pay. Cut spending. Meet user demands. Then do it again. What’s a CIO to do?

James Noble, CIO at Philip Morris, put it another way: “How can you be innovative and increase productivity when you’re just keeping the lights on?” he asked at a recent Society for Information Management CIO Forum in New York City.

Noble’s answer: set up a company store for IT services, what he calls a “service centre model on steroids.” Noble convinced Philip Morris execs to set up a Web-based company store where business-unit leaders can shop for IT needs. The store, which has its own revenue and profit goals, offers both goods and services, and uses Meta Group Inc. benchmarks to compare store prices to the cost of outside vendors. Noble says low overhead keeps the store’s prices competitive.

With the store meeting basic user demands, Noble says he spends more time on tackling innovation for top-line results.

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