Monday, January 5, 2009

Business Process Improvement tops 2009 CIO Priorities

A recent survey of 220 IT executives (by CIO Insight) showed that 42% of CIOs believe that Improving Business Processes is a top priority for 2009. Surprisingly, Cost Cutting was considered a top priority by only 38% of respondents, while only 25% named Generating more Business as a priority for this year.

The survey results do not provide any details as to when the survey was conducted. Since the survey was published in early December, it's quite probable that the full impact of the economy's 3rd and 4th quarter performance was not accounted for in their responses. At the same time, however, by October, I was already starting to see a pull-back on IT initiatives. Nearly everyone I communicated with was focused on cost reductions and hard savings. And virtually no one was looking at the soft savings promised by many IT initiatives. In fact, even projects with clear and hard-dollar ROI were being scrutinized and frequently delayed.

What explains the difference?
The only thing I can think of is that the respondents expect the economy to begin righting itself sometime during the course of 2009. I haven't seen any evidence to substantiate this belief, but I cannot come up with any other reasonable explanation for these responses.

Another fascinating detail in the responses is in the Cost-cutting results, which I've highlighted below. Notice the disparity between smaller (< $500 million) and larger (> $500 million). Apparently, the larger organizations were ahead of the curve on belt-tightening. The opposite disparity also shows up, to a lesser degree, in the customer service response. Taken together, this tells me that larger organizations are going to be in better position to take advantage of the eventual recovery than their smaller competitors. And we should adjust our strategy accordingly.

Summary of Responses - Top CIO Priorities for 2009:

  • Improve Business Processes - 42% ... (Less then $500M - 43%, More than $500M - 40%)
  • Deliver Better Customer Service - 41% ... (Less then $500M - 44%, More than $500M - 37%)
  • Cutting Costs - 38% ... (Less then $500M - 34%, More than $500M - 45%)
  • Generate More Business - 25% ... (Less then $500M - 28%, More than $500M - 21%)
  • Innovate New Products and Services - 22% ... (Less then $500M - 23%, More than $500M - 19%)

Link to full survey results at CIO Insight: Top CIO Priorities for 2009

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