Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

CIOs Speak Out - Insights into the CIO Mind-set

During the week of September 20th, Harvey Nash and PA Consulting Group went on a road show across the U.S. and conducted three CIO Forums. More than 75 IT leaders joined us in New York, Seattle and Denver to examine critical issues and learn from their peers. Attending each of the events, I heard firsthand what IT leaders are focusing on, striving for and frustrated with at this uniquely challenging time for businesses.

What I noted is that despite the hard times we are slowly leaving behind and the continued bottom-line pressure, today's CIOs have a very clear sense of what's working, what their focus is and how they are going to get there. There was great determination and clarity of purpose in each forum. I would like to thank the CIO panel leaders and participants who joined us and whose names are listed below. Your experience and perspective made the Forums dynamic, thoughtful and well worth attending.

I would also like to share some of the more lively arguments and ideas discussed during the event as a way to further the discussion on topics that are shaping today's IT organizations and their agendas. Was the recession good? Can you continue to do more with less or has something got to give? Has outsourcing peaked? Here's what CIOs in New York, Seattle and Denver had to say. I welcome your comments on any of these positions and ideas.

Better Post Recession - In several of the forums, IT leaders made the point that despite the turmoil of the past few years, their IT organizations are better for having endured this historic recession. Business processes were never more efficient and focus on business goals had never been sharper. Teams are leaner but stronger. The challenge now is to maintain focus and efficiency as budget reigns loosen and more demands from various areas of the business come in after a long dry spell.

Budgets Are Growing - Most IT leaders agreed that the recession required to do more with less but that it cannot be the constant modus operandi. One CIO pointed out that there comes a point when you really can't do any more and less is just too little. That said, no CIOs at the Forums were clamoring for big budget increases. Instead, most attendees expressed relief to have a little more budget room to strategically tackle IT and business problems.

Outsourcing Has Peaked - To the majority of attendees at the Forums, outsourcing has peaked. That's not to say that they will use it less, but that they have found the right balance of outsourcing and insourcing for their IT organizations. Will they continue to draw on outsourcing for greater efficiency and skill expansion? Yes. Will they be doing it in large segments and outsource new, bigger parts of their IT operation? Not likely.

IT and the Business Are Integrated - When it comes to the debate over whether IT and the business are well integrated or not, a handful of CIOs had one strong sentiment: enough already! According to several participants, the gap between IT and the business organization is no more different that the general business organization and the finance or legal department. IT is not an island but a functioning unit within the business that does have its own responsibilities and expertise but is still well aligned to business goals.

As we discussed these and many other topics, it struck me how true it is that IT is no island in today's business world. The IT leaders at this event were focused first on business issues--such as increasing competitive advantage and better engaging and supporting customers. It was a reminder of the kind of steady concentration we all need to help accelerate a slow recovery and put businesses everywhere into in a more competitive, innovative position.

Once again I'd like to thank the CIO Forum Panelists and I invite you to contact me at for more details on the Forums we hosted or to learn more about the 2010 Harvey Nash CIO Survey.

New York Panelists
• Alfonso Perez, Head of Technology,
• Jonathan Manley, CIO, Estee Lauder
• Larry Bonfante, CIO, United States Tennis Association
• Mark Mooney, CIO & SVP, McGraw-Hill

Denver Panelists
• Michael Kolbrener, CIO, Aurora Bank FSB
• Molly Rauzi, CIO, City and County of Denver
• Neil Holsteen, CIO, Janus
• Rod Hardin, Director, IT, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority
• Tom Wind, Former CEO, Lehman - Mortgage Cap Division

Seattle Panelists

• Edmond Mesrobian, CTO, RealNetworks
• Rob Strickland, Board Director/President, Atigeo
• Scott Porad, CTO, Cheezburger Network