Alignment, Recruiting and Retaining Are Real Concerns
For years, alignment topped the Society for Information Management's annual survey of top CIO concerns. This year, it regained the top spot from recruiting and retaining top IT professionals, which took the prize in 2007.
It shouldn't surprise most IT pros that those two issues tend to dominate the annual survey. The industry uproar over alignment has been raging for years, and staffing issues take greater precedence in thes tough times, especially as the supply of talented IT workers dwindles.
But what should surprise many is that I rarely hear CIOs talk about those issues as their top concerns.
Not so for Union Pacific CIO Lynden Tennison.
I spoke with Tennison last week as part of my reporting for our December feature on the future of IT organizations, and as always when interviewing CIOs, I asked him about his top concerns.
Alignment came first. Tennison described his role as that of a technology leader, not necessarily a business strategist. Still, he understands the need for IT leaders to align themselves with their business-line colleagues and executives to keep strategy and priorities in line. Still, Tennison said he's always contemplating if they're aligned closely enough and what they can do to maximize their collaboration.
Next came staffing. Like many IT leaders, Tennison worries about the coming retirement of the Baby Boomer generation and finding talented workers to replace them. He sees a problem there:
"There's no shortage of really good graduating students with computer-science degrees, but less people are going into them. So I'm very concerned about the future our pool of people we'll recruit to fulfill these positions."
What Tennison said wasn't surprising; plenty of CIOs deal with these challenges each day. What was suprising, however, was that he mentioned them at all. I've seen the surveys (SIM's and others) claiming the critical issues of alignment and staffing were paramount, but I haven't heard a critical mass of IT leaders talk about them in-depth or even cite them as top concerns.
But times are changing.
So tell us, IT execs: what are your top priorities now as you prepare for 2009?