Improving Value Of IT Tops CIO's Agenda For 2005

by Amit Tripathi    Jan 21, 2005

If you thought that as IT head you have got into the good books of your CEO due to various IT initiatives that you carried out, then take a relook at your strategy. The findings of a recent survey conducted by Mercury Interactive Corporation, a global business technology optimization (BTO) player, realign the focus on IT in delivering value to business.

An overwhelming 73% of the IT heads, ranked improving quality of IT as their top challenge. Does this imply that CIOs have fallen short of the expectation from the CEOs? CXOtoday probed more into the written agenda.

V.S. Manikkam, manager-IT, Converter Adhesives and Chemicals Pvt. Ltd., says, “It is true that IT initiatives are judged by the value it adds to business. But, we must recognize that CIOs are playing a vital role in the corporate framework. They are pioneering cutting edge approaches, whether it is adopting newer processes or tools their contribution is increasingly playing a pivotal role in today’s enterprises.”

Manikkam agrees that for the IT heads, the top management is still a hard nut to crack as far as new IT initiatives are concerned. All bucks stop when budgetary allocations are spelt out. This means that CIOs still need to gain more visibility within the organization.

Another challenge CIOs face is to check the efficiency of the implementor and the vendor in deploying a certain product, because after a system is deployed, any failure makes the CIO accountable. Exemplifying his view, Manikkam added, “We have chosen such a core system (Ramco) on which training is easy, unlike other brands which are complex and with hidden costs.”

Rajiv Rajda, vice president-information technology, Kodak India Ltd., too feels that as long as IT collaborates with business, the kudos goes to the CIO. Ensuring adequate uptime, efficient process automation, adoption of quality processes like Kaizen and simplification of business processes should be the immediate goals of a CIO.

However, R. P. Dumasia, GM-IT, Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd. thinks contrary. According to him, the initiative needs to come from the CEO or the top management. He believes that a CIO would feel motivated when he too is involved in the strategic business decision process. Citing the example of his own company, Rajda says that in his organisation the business plans are shared throughout the organization.

Rajda seconds the findings that 58% of India-based CIOs see data privacy laws as having the biggest impact amongst key compliance initiatives. According to him compliance is an ongoing activity and in this regard an IT department cannot afford complacency. However, Dumasia disagrees and is of the view that compliance is not much of an issue in the Indian context as not much of data privacy laws exist and whatever exists (IT Act 2000) is not adequately spelt out.

The survey has brought to light the importance attached to outsourcing as 67% regard that outsourcing has clear benefits as far as securing and protecting data is concerned, while a good 60% feel that through outsourcing, quality of IT can be improved.

Concludes Rajda, “Outsourcing is here to stay since it makes a good case for cost reduction and smart business. But the control has to remain with the user organisation.”