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CIO Wisdom II : More Best Practices

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CIO Wisdom II : More Best Practices by Laplante, Phillip; Costello, Thomas, 9780131855892
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  • ISBN: 9780131855892 | 0131855891
  • Cover: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 10/31/2005
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1. Preface

This sequel to the best selling CIO Wisdom brings together expert contributions from members, speakers, and friends of the CIO Institute, a Greater Philadelphia Metro Area-based community of practice for CIOs. A complete description and history of this group can be found in Chapter 4, Creating a Community of Practice.

Inspired by the public meetings and private discussions of this elite group of thought leaders, this book covers many areas of interest to CIOs, IT professionals, and business leaders. Featuring new coverage of essential topics found in the original CIO Wisdom, as well several new topics this book should be considered complimentary to the CIO Wisdom, and we encourage you to read that book as well.

2. Book Organization

One of the greatest challenges of any book is determining how to best structure and/or categorize the thoughts and chapters into a flow that is both meaningful and efficient for the reader. That challenge is compounded in this work by the vast array of contributors, writing styles, and intentions of the authors providing the chapters that comprise this text. Further, we wanted to ensure that this collection of material was evenly distributed across a set of timely focus areas. As a result, the chapters have been grouped into the following 5 major categories:

  1. What Makes a CIO Tick? – The personal drivers and pressures facing the CIO

  2. Hardware and Software Technology – Nuts and bolts topics facing the enterprise.

  3. Internal Forces – The internal pressure and value of the CIO

  4. Information Architecture – The mechanics and interconnection of the IT organization with the enterprise.

  5. External Forces – Various pressures, technologies, and compliance opportunities/challenges facing the IT organization.

While each of the authors contributed their own thoughts without prompting or guidance, there are threads that appear between the various works that weave into something interesting. While the reader may cherry-pick their favorite topics and hop around between chapters, connections will appear around every turn. While every CIO has their own way of clustering their view of technology and business, the section grouping in this book is just one way to help you find a starting point for your learning experience. The following paragraphs describe the rationale behind each section.

2.1 What Makes a CIO Tick?

Ever since the dot com bust and the corporate financial reporting scandals of the late 1990s and early 2000s, dramatic changes have been taking place to the internal and external environment in which the CIO operates. This, in turn, has forced CIOs to reevaluate who they are, how they should set their priorities, and how best to react to the dynamic forces of change. In the wake of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation and the mandated increased board oversight of operations, many CIOs struggle under the intense scrutiny. As the IT operation seeks to maintain its role in the organization, or perhaps gain more influence and respect at the executive table, how the CIO is viewed and how he1 thinks is ever important.

In this section we look at unique role of the CIO and try to understand what drives him.

Chapter 1, "The Changing Role of the CIO," by Phil Laplante and Don Bain, first appeared as an article of the same name in the IEEE's respected magazine, IT Professional. It is reprinted here with permission. In this chapter they examine Nicholas Carr's hypothesis that the role of IT in the organization no longer matters, because it offers no competitive advantage. In fact, because a company can only be at a disadvantage if their IT functions poorly, IT is a commodity. Phil and Don examine Carr's thesis from the perspective of CIO functional roles, reporting structures, and career risk.

In "Scope of the CIO," Tom Costello, a long time industry insider, looks at the evolution of the CIO and the environment around him along several broad dimensions including: organizational structure, governance, mission and function. Tom argues that the role of the CIO has changed over the last 20 years, but that in some ways, it has remained the same. While the old checklist style of IT management may still work at some levels, a well constructed IT Plan may prove to be useful for both the operations of the IT department as well as a roadmap for the career development of the CIO. Finally, the elements and purpose by which such a plan can be constructed are covered.

In the "It's All About Marketing," Autumn Bayles, gives us one perspective on the role of CIO; that of the CIO as "salesperson". We've heard time and again from our member CIOs of the importance of being able to influence colleagues, subordinates, superiors, and especially board members through persuasion (or, marketing, as she puts it), and Autumn addresses her enlightenment in this regard. This is the only chapter written in the first person but we didn't want to change it to third person because it's really a delightful glimpse into the life of one of our Superstar CIOs.

In the last chapter, "Creating a Community of Practice," by Phil Laplante describes the origins and evolution of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area CIO community of practice, the CIO Institute. It provides the setting from which this book evolved and provides a glimpse at the dynamics and creation of this high-powered group. Some of the situations and issues described here should prove of value to those starting or nurturing a similar community of practice for CIOs or any C-level community, for that matter.

2.2 Hardware and Software Technology

While it is true that many CIOs did not come up through the technical ranks (often through finance or operations) and even the most technical CIOs frequently delegate the most minute details of the technical aspects of the job to subordinates, a CIO needs to be techno-savvy. In this section we look at a selection of the kind of hardware and software technology issues that the CIO most face. In particular, the convergence and integration of hardware and software within the physical operations– security, operations, and supply chain –is noteworthy in each chapter.

In the first chapter, "Securing the IT Facility," Joel Richmon and Paul Nowak look at a frequently overlooked aspect of the IT function – interfacing with the systems that control the physical security of the facility and its employees. Indeed, many CIOs are being tasked with overseeing some aspects of physical security as these systems become increasingly more complex and networked. In some cases, the CIO works in conjunction with a Chief Security Officer (CSO). Whatever the case, the CIO needs to be as aware of facility access control, fire protection and notification, and human identification as he is of firewalls and antispam filters.

Next, David Frigeri looks at the importance of network throughput measurement and improvement of data communications in "Business Critical Applications over the WAN: The Middle Mile." In particular, he discusses why simply increasing bandwidth is not enough to alleviate congestion – you must also understand the underlying communications protocols and how they behave under stress. As he notes, taking advantage of the Internet is a matter of accomplishing two strategic objectives, assessing where the organization or the application is today and what the fu

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