CIO Resolutions for 2009

Jan. 8, 2009
Gartner, Inc. tells CIOs to stop fearing the future and start driving it

In an effort to help CIOS starts 2009 off correctly, Gartner, Inc provides its 10 'CIO resolutions for 2009.'

"The unfolding economic crisis of late 2008 has created a more challenging situation than many businesses and most CIOs have ever experienced," said Mark Raskino, vice president and Fellow at Gartner. "They face a daunting and uncertain year ahead. Many CIOs have already been instructed to operate with lower budgets and many more expect such instructions. Chief executives need to cut short- term costs very quickly to cope with volatile market sentiment in many industries and countries, but without damaging recovery growth prospects."

Gartners 10 CIO resolutions for 2009 are grouped into four strategic themes:

Theme 1: Reinforce Enduring Strengths and Assets

1. Start building an alumni network: To maintain legacy skills and complex experienced pools of labor, Gartner recommends CIOs establish alumni networks. This could include a semi-official company IT alumni association with its own web page, use of web social networking tools and re-establishing bounty schemes, where staff are paid for recruits they bring in.

2. Stop Being the Exception that Enforces the Rules: In tense times, leading by example matters more than usual -- from body language to dress code, and from vocabulary to attention-span. CIOs should design and adopt two or three key behaviors to match the required direction they want their reports to follow such as turning away their option to upgrade to the glitziest new smartphone.

3. Start Scouting for Key Talent: As large numbers of laid-off people flood the market, some salary-level attrition is inevitable and even good people could find themselves without a position for months. "This will create something of a buyers market for some high-caliber IT talent in 2009. However, company recruitment lockdowns will stop CIOs taking advantage if they dont take specific actions," said Raskino. They should use personal networking paths to find out where talent pools are strong.

Theme 2: Prepare for the Next Change, Sooner than you Think

4. Start preparing for the unexpected: "It's important to challenge and develop the thinking styles and frame of reference of your leadership team as well as yourself. We advise CIOs to find people to join the discussion who don't fit the existing mould and perhaps even deliberately choose people who will irritate the majority," said John Mahoney, vice president, Gartner.

5. Start Using Social Systems Yourself: CIOs need to start visibly using social networks themselves to kick-start their participation from other staff -- lurking in quiet observation is not enough. Gartner advised CIOs to also encourage the leadership team into using social media more openly to communicate internally and externally to rebuild brand confidence, energize the company culture, develop ideas and refine solutions.

6. Start Taking Cloud Seriously: Cloud computing is a major new stage in the evolution of commercial IT but at this stage is confusing. In 10 years, much of IT will be served this way, so CIOs need to start leading their organizations safely in this inevitable direction, or risk being sidelined by its progress.

Theme 3: Survive in 2009 Without Collateral Damage

7. Stop ignoring people and opting for soft targets: CIOs will be under pressure to be seen taking swift action. There will be temptation to cut quickly in areas where staff is working on longer-term goals that suddenly seem of lower relevance. However, CIOs should not lay off the people they will need long-term and who will be hard to replace just because their work is not an immediate deliverable (e.g. enterprise architects, emerging technologies staff). Instead, they should require their temporary tactical redeployment and displaced market-standard heads elsewhere. Similarly, they shouldn't cut projects in areas which are in the hype cycle 'trough of disillusionment' just because they are unfashionable. CIOs should defend them if they will still yield significant value in a year or two.

8. Start Offering your Vendors a Free Lunch: CIOs will require vendors to deliver flexibility and cost savings and will need to reset the style of the relationship. At the same time, suppliers will be keen on staying in close touch, working hard to attract CIOs off-site for 'face time', so CIOs must resolve to politely decline vendor courtesy trips in 2009. Both sides must give ground and CIOs must signal a reset to a new style of interchange.

9. Stop Fearing the Future; Start Driving It: Internally, CIOs should also reflect conspicuous frugality but not be defined by it. They should resolve to occasionally and visibly splash out a little - where it really matters to staff moral such as training courses or software development tools. Work on real money saving like flying economy instead of business class - but avoid empty-gesture cost cutting such as taking cookies off the plate at management meetings.

Theme 4 and Resolution #10

Get Experience in Newer Technologies: With so much work to do, Gartner reminded CIOs that they need to protect the time to stay in touch and get 'hands-on' with some key technologies in 2009:

  • e-book readers
  • Google Chrome
  • Building mini cloud applications
  • YouTube as a default search engine for a day
  • HD teleconferencing

To view the report entitled "CIO New Year's Resolutions, 2009" visit

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