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Saturday, July 21, 2007

The CIO Conundrum

I call it the “CIO Conundrum”, and it goes something like this: you are the CIO of a large company and each year, your budget is, on average, decreasing by about 4%. And, most of the money you’re allocated (perhaps 70% of more) is used to maintain your existing environment, with probably a lot of legacy stuff in there. Of course, your users are demanding more and more features with greater accessibility to key data. And, if you are like most Fortune 500 companies, you probably have over 40 different financial systems and three ERP systems*. These systems are obviously each performing similar functions, but perhaps not exactly the same way (think 48 different versions of tax calculation).

To make matters worse, your company’s end-user customers want seamless, consistent access to their information. For example, if you are a brokerage house, your customers want access to their accounts and trading platform from anywhere including their cell phones. And, if the customers have multiple accounts (ie savings, corporate stock plan, 401K, capital growth, etc.), they absolutely want a common interface and “look and feel” into each of their accounts. The customers don’t care what applications are running in your environment, nor do they particularly care which databases, operating systems, and hardware are there. They expect it all to work and to give them what they want, when they want it. And, no doubt that if you don’t meet these user’s needs, your competitors will.

And, if that weren’t challenging enough for our hypothetical CIO, you are also being held more and more accountable for business results. You are no longer just a cost center. You are actually being asked to contribute to the business at the top line as well, and you may even have a seat at the executive committee table.

Hmm. That sounds like a pretty daunting task, and it is. That is the “CIO Conundrum”, and it is what makes the modern-day CIO job a very difficult role. But, the good news is that there is a way to solve this conundrum. And, that was the thrust of my keynote talk at the InterOpen Forum yesterday in Minneapolis. The forum was designed to help senior business executives leverage open solutions and interoperability toward improved business performance.

My talk was titled Harnessing Mass Collaboration for Business Results – How Open Source and Web 2.0 Are Solving the “CIO Conundrum”. We had a full house in the beautiful Wheelock Whitney Hall at the Minneapolis Community & Technical College. We had a great discussion in the hall, and also heard a wonderful presentation from Dominic Sartorio, President of the Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) who presented “A Case for Customer Centricity” and the activities within the OSA. Michael Grove, OpenITWorks CEO, also spoke about collaborative projects to drive business results. My special thanks to Ron Fresquez, CEO TOSTA, for setting up a great event (and also for the great dinner at Brit’s Pub
... although we never got around to lawn bowling).

If you are interested in seeing any of the presentations, send me an email and I’ll be happy to forward them to you.

*2006 Bloor Research report


Aingaran Pillai said...


I would be keen see your presentation. Can you please send me a copy to aingaran.pillai[at]


Anthony Gold said...

I mailed the presentation to you. Let me know if you have any additional questions or comments.

Damu said...

Hi Anthony,

Could you mail me your presentation? You have painted a very pragmatic problem that CIO's face today. My email address is


Anthony Gold said...

Done. Thanks for the feedback.

Goncalo Salgado said...

I wish I could have made it. I am sure you had a great talk.

Michael said...

Looks like you read my mind! Exactly the position I'm in.
There must a Union for CIOs somewhere.