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January 17, 2013

Power Up by Aligning Business Objectives with Tech Objectives

By Dave Courbanou

CIOs mulling over their next big step may want to take a look at Gartner’s latest survey: Over 2,000 CIOs were asked to reveal their top priorities in 2013 and the results show there’s a significant focus on the latest “digital technologies.” That no surprise for the astute reader, but aligning new technologies with business objectives is key to making a 2013 strategy a powerful one.

First, the facts: Gartner identifies mobility, analytics, Big Data, social media and cloud as “tipping point” technologies that have built up potential in the enterprise. But because these technologies are relatively new to the scene, Gartner stresses CIOs must take the reigns “in a world of change” and not limit themselves to exploring how existing business strategies can accommodate new technologies. CIOs reading this today are likely past this hurdle.

The next step is to outline business priorities. Gartner reveals the top 5 business priorities for all CIOs include enterprise growth, operational results, reducing costs, attaining new customers and improving IT applications and infrastructure. These are flanked by the top 5 technology initiatives, which include business intelligence and analytics, mobile technologies, cloud computing, collaboration and (the increasingly critical) legacy modernization.

For flavor, the survey also reveals 67 percent of CIOs are leading projects outside normal IT, and a fifth of all respondents say they act as CIO and chief digital officer (CDO) — an indicator of the shifting role CIOs now play.

But where to start? Gartner’s survey shows 70 percent of all CIOs believe mobile technologies are the most disruptive. Big Data and analytics close in at 55 percent while social media hits 54 percent and public cloud tails at 51 percent.

Maximizing the impact, however, isn’t about picking one path and sticking to it, but about combining technologies to formulate a cohesive solution. Although it’s not chemistry, it will require CIO planning, and the aforementioned initiatives are a good place to start.

Consider the following: A focus on mobility and cloud together can reduce costs and improve apps and infrastructure. If picking up new customers is a priority, legacy modernization with cloud adoption will produce marked improvements in business agility — critical for staying competitive. Delivering improved operational results will come naturally once analytical capabilities are employed.

The best combination of technologies are the ones that align with C-suite sentiments. That will require the CIO to ensure open communication across the board, which could be the most difficult task.

But each task, once completed, will make the transition to additional technologies easier, since the business priorities will be understood and revealed. In essence, it’s putting together the pieces of a brand new machine; CIOs just have to find the best part to start with, and the rest will fall into place. That keeps every CIO well-aligned to their number one priority: increasing enterprise growth.

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