CIOs should resolve to change

For the bold at heart: Seek out innovators and fund their schemes with up to 3 percent of your budget

Well, we’re one week into 2007, which means it’s time to revisit those New Year’s resolutions from 2006 and delete them (or pretend they never existed). Or we could drag them forward into 2007, as part of our ongoing guilt list with no specific deadline.

If you’re a CIO, you probably have a conventional list of annual resolutions (“deliver more business value”). But you may also want to take a look at Gartner’s New Year’s Resolutions for CIOs, which focuses this year on so-called high-value sidebar actions that will supposedly complement your conventional list. This is the soft stuff — flossing for CIOs. And Gartner picked a pretty interesting mix this time around, grouped into three buckets: things to start doing, things to do more of, and things to stop doing. Here’s the quick rundown:

Things to start doing: First, “Create an IT generation succession plan.” Focus on Generation X (born between 1963 and 1978) and lay the post-boomer foundation for your IT shop. You also need to get more women in the mix, because IT needs to be more collaborative. Second, “Start tracking the environmental performance of IT.” Be part of the solution on this one, before you’re seen as part of the problem. Third, enable “true innovators” within your organization. Use 1 to 3 percent of your budget for creative, risk-tolerant initiatives, Gartner suggests.

Things to do more of: First, re-establish your visibility into total enterprise IT spending. We’re back in a growth phase, Gartner concludes, where shadow IT spending tends to proliferate. Second, help HR become strategic. Empower them with social networking, collaboration, and so on — tools to use talent as a strategic weapon. And third, “improve front-line business experience.” Make hands-on exposure to business operations mandatory for your whole team, suggests the report.

Things to stop doing: Stop giving back budget savings! Apply them to IT priorities elsewhere and report IT yield back to the business as your key yardstick, not cost savings. Stop treating IT governance as an elaborate process and focus more on the people side of governance — winning hearts and minds. And finally, stop obsessing about the minutiae of technology and find ways to deflect or redirect these time-sucking conversations before they happen.

Having said that, Gartner also suggests getting hands-on with the following technologies in 2007: 3-D printing, social information analysis tools, newer high-level programming languages (such as Flapjax and Phrogram), and virtual communities such as Second Life. (Note to self: Flapjax? What about Wapphles?)

Overall, I like the “think different” feel of these Gartner resolutions, even if they are a bit apples and oranges, and maybe not practical for every CIO. Maybe you won’t get to all 10 this year, but remember, this is the optional list, the little something extra. Don’t forget your primary 10; keep the lights on, the trains running, and the network up. And don’t forget to floss.

On a personal note, starting Jan. 1 the name of this column has changed (to Enterprise Insight from From the Analysts) implicitly raising the bar on my performance. Previously I was relaying other people’s insights (salted with my own half-baked opinions), now I’m on the hook for creating some insights of my own. The global competitive landscape has finally caught up with me. I’ll try to be worthy. If you have any good ideas, however, send them along.