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  1. Leadership
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October 27, 2010

Seven ways to convince your boss he shouldn’t CSR you out of your job

Gartner has produced a very handy survival check-list for CIOs to get through the recent spending cuts. Gary Flood looks at the advice

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In the wake of the recent (in the end, not as) Apocalyptic (as we’d thought) Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) – henceforth, a euphemism for radical organisational surgery of the most painful budgetary kind – analyst leaders Gartner has produced a very handy survival check-list for CIOs, in both the public and private and, let’s not keep on ignoring them as they are part of Cam’s Big Society, the third sector variety, too.

(We should also note that the seven CIO cardinal sins are being released as part of the build up to the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo conference and exhibition process in Cannes over the next few weeks.)

The group says there are seven common CEO concerns that need to be addresses or headed off at the pass. These are, in turn, fading confidence, maintaining internal cash generation, investing in new internal cost efficiencies, ‘engaging the politicised economies,’ long-term sustainability, and dealing with legacy and succession issues.

Let’s briefly unpack these. The first means you need (surprise) to plan for much more organisational caution/reduced budget. The next means that because most CEOs are pleased that their radical cost-cutting programmes instituted in 2009 ran ahead of falls in demand, now they are faced with the need to invest in growth at the same time as maintaining healthy cash surpluses as a hedge against the bouts of high business volatility the financial crisis aftershocks continue to generate. Translation: give him IT projects that will mean your team’s contribution to cash generation and cash flow acceleration is visible.

Next, look to target at least one major business process to be revolutionised or obliterated completely in 2011 or 2012 or if you can, propose even larger structural cost saving ideas, like major end-to-end process changes or automations (e.g. eradicating paper statements to customers in favour of online access) as a way to keep costs down.

Then see how you can help wherever possible in bringing new product and service innovations to technology-enabled markets by such moves as adding e-commerce, e-service, social marketing, smartphone or location-based innovations to bolster new product and service launches.

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What does this politicised economy bit mean? Gartner is saying that regulatory and tax changes governments make will harm the markets of business leaders and in particular, leading CEOs are concerned that complex taxes levied to recoup bailouts and stimulus packages will raise their costs and dampen demand.

So as your CEO seeks useful strategic information to win political battles and rapid compliance to avoid penalties, make sure you have a strong tactical liaison in place with the office of the CEO and the legal department to help with complex data analysis and information inquiries.

Also on the bigger picture – business and industry sustainability; CEOs are learning to work with a sustainability mind-set and profit from it, and It just isn’t for hippies any more. So, while reducing the power consumed in IT operations remains important, for most organisations the more important and strategic issue is how IT can help the business to operate in a more sustainable fashion. Best move here: order high-level, long-term sustainability business systems and information architecture development plans.

Finally, CEO turnover may well accelerate – Gartner says it expects to see a rise in CEO turnover over the next 18 months as boards set out on new, post-recession, strategy directions. But as most CEO appointments are internal, these new and old CEOs probably knew the last two CIOs and if their attitude toward IT is "misguided," "perhaps an opportunity was lost".

Your best move here would be to identify the people around you most likely to rise to the top job and take time to help them in the late stages of their professional development. Thus teach, mentor, advise, persuade, support, nurture and generally cultivate the next business leader you hope to be working for.

This is all excellent stuff, though it could be argued that it’s timeless, not necessarily 2011-fixated.

To which the only answer is – if you’re so smart, how come you ain’t rich, and/or done all this already?

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