Chapter 1. Harnessing IT to Drive Enterprise Strategy

BY MICHAEL HUGOS

To put it plainly, the chief information officer (or CIO) in any enterprise is the person responsible for two things. One is a thankless task and the other is a high-risk undertaking. The thankless task is to make sure the enterprise systems infrastructure is operating correctly and efficiently 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The high-risk undertaking is to continually evolve and enhance that infrastructure so that it remains properly aligned and able to deliver what the enterprise needs to drive its evolving business strategy. This chapter explores ways that strategically minded CIOs respond to and handle the many elements of risk that come with IT leadership positions.

It has become abundantly clear that successful CIOs figure out ways to delegate systems operations tasks to others so that they can devote most of their time to that second thing, the high-risk task of alignment and use of systems infrastructure to drive enterprise strategy. This is where successful CIOs bring the most value to the enterprises that employ them. High risk also means the potential for great rewards, and CIOs who effectively collaborate with other executives to reap those rewards for their enterprises are indispensable players on any senior management team.

In most enterprises it is useless to discuss IT strategy without simultaneously discussing business operations strategy. As operations evolve and grow, they must be effectively ...

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