Gartner offers up CIO survival tips

Analyst Gartner has suggested 10 resolutions for chief information officers (CIOs) and IT professionals that it says will, if followed, help such decision makers weather the economic storms ahead of them and exceed their work goals and expectations.

"The unfolding economic crisis of late 2008 has created a more challenging situation than many businesses and most CIOs have ever experienced," said Mark Raskino, vice president and fellow at Gartner.

"They face a daunting and uncertain year ahead. Many CIOs have already been instructed to operate with lower budgets and many more expect such instructions. Chief executives need to cut short-term costs very quickly to cope with volatile market sentiment in many industries and countries, but without damaging recovery growth prospects."

The resolutions have four themes. Theme one suggests that CIOs work with what they have both in terms of their technologies and their own strengths. Here CIOs are urged not to over spend on gadgets and to behave in accordance with their sensitive role.

Gartner also recommends that they recruit talented workers from an expanding pool of the out of work. "This will create something of a buyer's market for some high-calibre IT talent in 2009. However, company recruitment lockdowns will stop CIOs taking advantage if they don't take specific actions," explained Raskino.

The second theme is all about being prepared for the unexpected. Gartner said that firms should be ready from emerging technologies like the cloud and should also be seen to be keen adopters of other emerging technologies such as social networking. "Add a small experimental cloud-based application development project in 2009 if you have not already done so," said Raskino.

Theme three, or to give it its full title, "Survive in 2009 without collateral damage" recommends that CIOs increase their visibility and choose not to sacrifice long term gains for short term goals. In order to gain the support of staff and vendors, CIOs are advised to treat them occasionally, creating a better working, or hardware partner relationship.

However, frugality should be the order of the day, according to the analysts, who write, "Both sides must give ground and CIOs must signal a reset to a new style of interchange. They should identify the senior management leader in each of their key vendors, probably not the day-to-day account managers, and invite them to lunch or dinner at a chain-restaurant venue that sets a starkly thrifty tone to discuss the value driven cost optimisation that both be required to deliver in 2009."

The final resolution recommends which technologies CIOs should have hands-on experience of in the coming months. The analysts suggest that Google's Chrome should be tested as a browser, that YouTube is used as the default search engine for a day, and that HD teleconferencing is used in replacement of face to face meetings.

Raskino added: "It seems inevitable tough times will hit most sectors at some point in 2009, so CIOs shouldn't wait for instructions to act. There's plenty they can do to protect assets and thrive on the change opportunities but they must start planning their way out right now."