The dilemma: Planning ahead

Prioritising what to do next is a difficult balancing act, according to Mark Samuels.

future road sign

"You've left it too late if you're planning now for 2014," responded a CIO when I asked him recently about his priorities for next year.

I was a bit surprised by his response. Experience suggests the final part of the year always coincides with a gamut of analyst reports and magazine articles that poll CIOs on the next year's spending priorities.

Advertisement - Article continues below

By engaging with the business, and asking executive peers to set their expectations for technology, CIOs move the emphasis on IT leadership from top-down control to democratised governance.

So, I thought it was reasonable to assume the turn towards autumn would coincide witha look forward to the aims and objectives for 2014. But the flurry of editorial predictions in the latter part of each year is, in essence, a coda to already-completed work.

Modern CIOs engage with line-of-business peers months in advance. They generally ask their colleagues to identify business priorities. IT projects are then established that help the business achieve its aims from the available budget.

In short, any CIO worth their salt is thinking way in advance of the next quarter or calendar year. The CIO I spoke to suggested IT leaders now need to be thinking about what will be happen in 2015 and even 2016, rather than the next calendar year.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Foresight on spending plans seems an intractable challenge in the information age. Such farsightedness flies in the face of established wisdom about IT strategy, which suggests it is impossible to plan with certainty in an era characterised by consumerisation, choice and change.

But CIOs must grapple with the dual demands of forward planning and constant change. By engaging with the business, and asking executive peers to set their expectations for technology, CIOs move the emphasis on IT leadership from top-down control to democratised governance.

There will always be room for new priorities. In fact, the fast pace of IT change means CIOs must be open to new ideas. By working with the business to lay down laws and objectives, technology chiefs can develop a mechanism to monitor the menace of shadow IT.

CIOs can use such farsighted planning to establish which systems are implemented where and when, rather than discovering after the event that employees have already implemented non-approved apps.

Advertisement - Article continues below

IT leaders simply cannot stand in the way of change. But it's also not in their interests to act as a barrier to transformation. By engaging with peers to plan long-term priorities, CIOs can help the business take a timely approach to technology trends.

Dr Mark Samuels is editor at advisory organisation CIO Connect. He examines the future role of the IT leader each month in his regular column. 

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now

Most Popular


Zoom kills Facebook integration after data transfer backlash

30 Mar 2020
data breaches

Marriott data breach exposes personal data of 5.2 million guests

31 Mar 2020
cyber crime

FBI warns of ‘Zoom-bombing’ hackers amid coronavirus usage spike

31 Mar 2020
data management

Oracle cloud courses are free during coronavirus lockdown

31 Mar 2020