The state of IT: A CIO's view part 2

Even though the economic climate is partly to mostly dismal with widely scattered cynicism and golf ball-sized blahs, IT execs are doing a fine job weathering the storm and will be in good shape when the sun returns. Kavin Moody, executive director of Babson College's Center for Information Management Studies (CIMS), outlines the silver linings of these cloudy times in this interview with TechTarget editors.

What are the top technology issues on the IT executive's agenda right now? Our list of topics for the Management

Workshops and Technology Update sessions reflect fairly well what is on CIOs' minds or, at least, what their organizations are interested in learning more about during the program year. The 2002/2003 schedule included management workshops on changing business conditions that impact IT, security and privacy, Web services, and ERP. Some of the technology update sessions included Microsoft .NET, broadband, wireless, and emerging technologies (most likely open-source). In almost every CIMS program, regardless of the topic, there inevitably has been some discussion about the implications for IT security and infrastructure resilience. Also, there is significant evaluation and exploration of outsourcing of different functions/services going on. So are there any silver linings in these dark economic clouds? While the state of the IT industry from a supplier perspective is currently fairly dismal, I believe that we will gradually return to reasonable growth and less volatility. There will always be flux in information technologies because it is an innovation-driven industry. But the lessons from the bubble experience should help prevent us from the effects of "extreme exuberance" in our industry in the future. I am impressed with how CIOs and many IT organizations have been navigating though the tough times. They are certainly not enjoying the times, but they seem to be in better command of their own destinies by being at the executive decision table and participating in the business process.

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Click here to read the first half of Moody's interview. What do you see IT organizations doing to improve their relationships with business users?
It's my view that IT organizations have made a lot of headway in improving relationships with business users over the past several years. There is no doubt in my mind that CIOs are becoming better business executives, and as this occurs, they are bringing their organizations along with them. Project management is improving. This isn't as much about IT getting smarter in the absolute sense, but more about how organizations (IT and business users) are figuring out how to work together. Cross-organizational teams are becoming routine, and business-oriented IT professionals are becoming more common. Progressive IT departments are also providing more management education for their promising professionals. We hear a lot about ROI these days. How do you think CIOs approach the ROI issue in justifying projects right now? How have ROI criteria changed in the more cost-conscious spending environment?
Knowing how to compute an ROI -- or whatever other financial hurdle -- is not the major issue. To me, the issue is mostly about IT alignment. The most important thing for CIOs is that they be on board with the financial decision approach that is embraced by their companies. IT investment decisions are business investment decisions and the IT division should be talking the same language and methods that everyone else uses throughout the enterprise. I think that problems can arise when an IT organization attempts to define the standards without working very closely with the corporate finance organization.

Portfolio management, balanced scorecards, and real options are appealing because they tend to promote viewing IT investment decisions through a wider lens.

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