Adding Value In Information Systems
by Rick Sidorowicz

Chief Information Officers have the difficult responsibility of directing a function that requires a high and ongoing level of investment with often little measurable evidence of adding tangible value. The perception of Information Systems and Information Technology is usually polarized between the extreme views of the function as a cost and overhead (necessary evil,) or a strategic resource (an ‘underpinning’ to support a strategic advantage.) Obviously, CIO’s and CEO’s alike would opt for the latter view, and have an IT function that can ‘enable’ the execution of strategies for success. How can this be done?

Forget about MIS strategies and IT plans!

Forget about investment plans for technology. Stick with business plans and view Information Systems as an integral part of business strategy. CEO’s should send the ‘teckies’ back to the drawing board to discover how they can identify and support business imperatives. CIO’s can add value by continuously linking technology to the key business priorities.

Establish a track record of on time delivery!

Assemble the capability to develop new supporting applications quickly. The record of reliability of ongoing operations is important however, the business impact is usually measured in the speed and efficiency of the development of new supporting systems for an enhanced business capability. CEO’s should view the systems development capability as an integral business ‘tool’ to create new opportunities and advantages. A CIO’s obsession must be to establish an impressive track record of delivery. This does require the technology, the people, and the focus on key business priorities.

Focus your IT investment!

As well as being linked to business strategy the IS effort must be concentrated on initiatives that strengthen areas of weakness, leverage a unique capability, or ‘underpin’ a new area of opportunity. CEO’s should resist funding a portfolio of applications and focus instead on the few high impact opportunities that ‘enable’ business success. CIO’s can focus their attention and resources on performance improvement and change efforts that support new business strategies and competitive advantages.

Put the business into Information Systems!

The first loyalty of the IS or IT group must be to the business, not to their technical empires or budgets. CEO’s can assist in developing a business mentality by focusing on results and the returns for investments in technology. CIO’s can bridge the technology gap, demystify the language and ensure all investments in information technology make business sense.

The CIO’s role and outlook are critical to ensure Information Technology is deployed as a strategic ‘tool’ and delivers value. CIO’s and CEO’s that run IS as an integral component of the business and see IT as an ‘enabler’ of opportunity can focus their investment and energy to deliver value and create new business capabilities.


Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

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