Target CXO



The recently organized 3-city "DQ CIO Summit on Managing IT" was
not an eye opener, but it surely once again rubbed some old bruises. The touchy
areas revolved around the vendor and his relationship with the CIO, and the CIO
and his relationship with end users in his or her organization. The CIO Summit
broadly focused on three crucial aspects of IT in enterprises today, namely
storage, security, and IT infrastructure.


IBRAHIM AHMAD

There also appeared to be gaps in terms of the CIOs’ knowledge of what the needs and expectations of their desktop users were

There is so much discussion and debate happening on storage these days that
we decided to call the theme of the discussion on storage: "Simplifying
Storage as Demand Explodes". It came out during the course of discussions
that the CIOs level of confidence in storage vendors was low on account of
several factors. These included pricing policies, lack of a clear technology
roadmap, insufficient support at the time of up-gradation, to name a few.
Similarly, the vendors felt that the CIOs are themselves not too sure of what
their real requirements are, and do not do adequate homework before placing
orders, which causes heartburn later. Clearly, the CIOs and the vendors need to
work more closely. Not that storage buying will come to a standstill if the CIO
and the vendor do not work together, it’s just that the success rates of
storage investments (RoI) will be higher.

While I knew that not more than 30 to 40% of storage that
organizations have is actually utilized, what surprised me, however, was that
not more than 20 to 25% of the info that is stored is actually ever retrieved
for use. Panelists in the discussion alleged that their biggest problem came
from individual desktop users.

What emerged from the discussions was that there were hardly
any storage related policies that most organizations have, especially for
desktop users. There also appeared to be gaps in terms of the CIOs’ knowledge
of what the needs and expectations of their desktop users were. It was felt that
sanctions for more storage investments, was a big nut to crack before the CEO
and the board.

One interesting point that needs mention here is the lack of
excitement that a subject like storage seems to be generating these days. Most
CIOs, when given an option to participate in a group discussion at the DQ CIO
Summit, did not state storage as their first choice. To be specific, between
storage, information security, and IT infrastructure management, storage was the
last option.

The other major discussion at the CIO Summit was the
challenges to information security. Most CIOs now agree that security is
becoming a major challenge, and they are finding it tough to handle all on their
own. Also, they feel that while responsibility for security of enterprise
networks and information is finally heaped on the CIOs, there are several
departments in an organization which play a role and need to be involved. Well
laid out security policies are absent in most organizations, and end-users are
not involved or given awareness lessons. Most CIOs reluctantly said that they
needed expert advice and third party support for enterprise wide security
planning and control, but were not very comfortable with the idea of outsourcing
it completely. Not as of now.

Lastly, while discussing IT infrastructure management, there
was more or less complete unanimity that it should not be the CIO’s mandate,
but should be outsourced. However, most of them said that they are looking at
outsourcing as much as they can, although finding good third party
infrastructure companies was proving to be tough. On a very sensitive question
of the possibility of CIOs to convert their IT department into independent
profit centers, the opinion was sharply divided. While some felt that they dream
to become independent business units, those who seem to have gone though the
experience were vehemently against the idea.

Who said that the CIO’s career is over? I think there is a
long distance to travel as far as his relationships-both with suppliers as
well as internal customers-is concerned. The CIO’s next challenge is in
terms of building relationships with his CXO, and not so much in terms of
selecting technologies.

The author is Editor of Dataquest
ibrahima@cybermedia.co.in

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