The role of the chief information officer (CIO) is mutating to include business considerations as well as traditional IT functions, report analysts at Dataquest's annual Predicts conference.
The consequences of this transformation for the channel are significant, according to Alan Hansell, program director, IT executive program. Suddenly the CIO must discover and report on issues that previously were outside the realm of the reseller/client relationship. Hansell explains that CIOs must now demand of their supplier total cost of ownership figures, efficiency predictions and the business value of IT.
In response to these new relationship criteria the reseller must possess an understanding of the business issues facing the end user and how technology fits into a business's overall strategy. "This information allows CIOs to become credible within their businesses. They have to gather and pass on information that will let the management team decide what is important and what isn't cost-effective. By helping them determine this with upfront costs and risk assessments they can provide you with the deal to make it all happen," explains Hansell.
Hansell believes a CIO's and reseller's revised focus on business issues is important when faced with management determined to cut IT spending and costs and who have become cynical about IT in the face of complicated and expensive ERP solutions and the ongoing Y2K saga.
Needs and implementations
In order to meld the disparate goals of businesses and the channel, Hansell suggests that there needs to be a meeting of demand and supply management, that is between what a business thinks it needs from IT and what the IT department can actually implement.
And with Dataquest predicting that less than 30 per cent of large enterprises expect to maintain an internal technology arm by 2004, businesses will be more dependent upon the channel to provide both IT products and services.
Dealing with the new-look CIO
Focus on business as well as technological needs. Recognise the business needs of customers and fit the technology to thoseBe upfront about costs, implementation time frames and capabilitiesAssist businesses in rolling out technology properly rather than quicklyOutline what the technology will improve and provide figures on "value for money"Pass on information about technology and its applications in general. A more informed CIO will be able to sell technology to the business managers more efficientlyProvide a risk assessment and be honest about itTrain your employees and promote their skills as a differentiating factor