The Recession-Era CIO
A few months ago, I asked in a blog post whether the recession poses chaos or opportunity for CIOs.
Peter Whatnell, CIO of Sunoco and president of the Society for Information Management (SIM), sees a little of both.
On the chaos front, Whatnell says he (and many other CIOs) believe that the worst is over. "To the extent that I do hear any joy, it's that the beatings have stopped," he told me late last week. "But that's a long way from saying things are going up."
He doesn't see more cuts coming down, but he still believes the outlook for the rest of 2009 is "flat."
And in some instances, the cuts made may continue to bleed. "When we make cuts, you try to be as thoughtful about it as you can," he says. "But the truth of the matter is, some of us had to do so much in such a short period of time that many of those cuts weren't well thought out."
The opportunity side itself is a bit chaotic. CIOs shouldn't focus so heavily on flashy new technology options, but more on getting down to business:
"It's not an opportunity that we're going to Linux or we're going to Gmail--it's an opportunity in the sense that you can be clear to your business partners that you absolutely understand the situation the company is in, you have a good appreciation for what really is important right now, and you can demonstrate that everything you're able to do is lined up 100 percent behind those critical activities. Essentially, you can convince them to say, 'Hey, he/she is one of us.'"
But challenges remain:
"Sometimes you have to swallow hard and sit there. For example, if you're sitting across the table talking with someone from the business about how to remove costs. That person says to the CIO, 'Well, can't you cut out all your non-value-added stuff?' You have to resist the temptation to say, 'You idiot! What do you think we've been doing the last five years?' You have to deal here's what/why/how we do what we do, and explain how you make decisions."
I'll post more of our discussion on CIOInsight.com. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, are you working harder to gain the confidence of the business? And is it working?