With the 2014 budgeting process well underway at some enterprises, this is a good time to consider what CIOs should be investing in. There are always more "good things" to do than money and people to do them. Here are a few things I think are priorities for organizations to invest in.
Everybody is talking about big-data. If you're focusing on the "big" in big-data you might be doing it wrong. The real goal is to figure out what data you need, what data you have, and how to bridge the gap between the two. And then you need to know how to aggregate that data into one place and how to allow your clients to access that data in an easy-to-use fashion whenever and however they need access to it. Whatever the size of your data, it isn't useful if you aren't looking at it this way.
We also need to understand the consumers of our products and services will increasing engage with us digitally. Whether that means social media, or enhanced web capabilities, or any one of a dozen other things, it's important that we find ways to directly engaged with our community in an authentic, real time and responsive fashion. That's a lot more complicated than it sounds. [Editor's note: Look for articles on this topic from our CIOs in the coming weeks.]
I'm a big believer that mobile platforms will soon become the primary device used by many professionals. Whether you interpret this as a tablet device, a phone or some hybrid of the two, in my opinion the days when people make huge investments in either desktop or even laptop devices will be limited to specialty situations.
Of course, every organization is different. Your need areas will differ. To get a better handle on your budget priorities, I suggest an exercise like this:
Step one: On the left-hand column of a whiteboard, write down the three to five things that truly matter most to your company. This may be launching a new product or service, entering new markets, expanding to new geographies, enhancing customer intimacy, or a dozen other things.
Step two: Down the right-hand column of the same whiteboard, write down all of the projects you are either currently working on or are considering asking for funding to support.
Step three: Connect the items in the left-hand column with the items in the right-hand column. In many cases you will find that there are a bunch of projects or proposed projects that simply don't "connect" to the things that truly matter.
Unless you work in a company that has unlimited human and financial resources (and if you do please call me so I can come work with you), it's imperative that we are judicious about where we invest our limited human and financial resources. Too many IT organizations are running projects with no business sponsor, no tangible business ROI, and that nobody in the business even cares about. This is a recipe for failure.
What kinds of capabilities are you investing in? What kind of competitive advantage do you hope they will provide your organization? I'd love to hear what you are up to and why you are making these investments.