Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What is Smart Resources?


Even as the global economy continues to fluctuate, IT and business executives have an opportunity to drive improvement while positioning for future growth. The reports and events described here will keep CIOs informed of the latest trends and help the business stay on track.

We’re also introducing a Smart Books section where we review and preview some key business books. This month, to get you geared up for end-of-year production cycles, we highlight two recent and one upcoming book on IT from the Harvard Business Press. Each should surely be among your next reading selections.

Smart Resources

  • Green Productivity: CIOs are making the connection between clean technology and IT productivity. In a June report, Spencer Stuart, global business leaders discuss their involvement in green IT and how it helps their enterprise as well as the environment. Magnus Holmqvist, Director of Business Innovation and corporate spokesman for Green IT, Volvo IT, Sweden, says that Green IT is “focused on three things — usage, infrastructure and tools, as well as processes and ways of working.” Every new project at Volvo needs to increase efficiencies in sustainable ways, he says, such as finding ways to reduce travel needs and doing lifecycle analysis on supporting IT solutions. Steve O’Donnell, former SVP IT Infrastructure, First Data International, U.K., says: “Some are now claiming that the [IT] industry rivals the airline industry’s carbon footprint. CIOs have to become familiar with terms such as power usage effectiveness (PUE) — a measure of the effective computing output from a fixed quantity of energy.” O’Donnell says IT leadership must focus on driving up average equipment utilization; “ruthless” decommissioning of legacy, underused and duplicate platforms; and “managing end-to-end energy efficiency of systems, including cooling and power redundancy as well as computing hardware.”

  • Joint Efforts: Although significant cuts have already been made, additional efficiencies and cost reductions are still possible if companies take a broader look at the way they manage IT architecture, according to an August article in the McKinsey Quarterly. McKinsey & Co. says that key to these economies is uniting business and IT leaders “to rationalize not only business applications and processes but also core IT infrastructure and operations.” The article cites one large consumer products company where a joint initiative to combine, consolidate and rationalize disparate IT systems across business units led to a drastic reduction in inventories, increased leverage in negotiating discounts with suppliers, and faster completion of new IT initiatives. Read the executive summary of the article, “IT Architecture: Cutting costs and complexity.”

  • qa_staff_chart.jpgQA Staffing: How much quality assurance is sufficient? According to a July study conducted by Computer Economics, less than half (45 percent) of 200 IT organizations report that they have QA staff in place. This is up from the 38 percent reported in 2006, but still raises questions about how well errors are being reduced in general IT processes, and in application development efforts, specifically. Read the Executive Summary for more details.

  • Check out our Live Exchange pages to download recent PDF presentations on the topic of IT productivity and Lean IT.
  • You can find slides by CA Inc.’s Peter Waterhouse discussing “The Power of Lean IT” in Bangalore, India, and consultant Peter Hinssen discussing “IT/Business Fusion” in London and Rome. Live Exchanges are also coming up in  Miami, Fla. and Short Hills, N.J. in the  U.S. in coming months as well as in Milan, Italy, and Paris in Europe. Review the full schedule and register here 

  • Professional Development Summit: The CA Inc. Development Exchange Summit will help your staff gain greater knowledge of the company’s products, roadmaps and best practices. Your IT staff can meet one-on-one with CA developers as well as their industry peers who are using CA solutions. Attendees will also experience the latest technology with hands-on labs, share best practices and increase their knowledge through more than 100 technical sessions. Two events are scheduled for October:
– October 11-16, CA Islandia Conference Center and the Islandia Marriott, Islandia, N.Y., Find more details and register here
– October 28-29, Ditton Manor, Slough, U.K. Find more details and register here

Smart Books

  • Active Leadership: IT Savvy, the newest book by noted MIT professors and authors Peter Weill and Jeanne W. Ross, addresses issues that CIOs face daily. Weill is Chairman of MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research and Ross is its Director, so they are very close to the IT community and have co-authored other books on the topic. In  IT Savvy (Harvard Business Press, 2009), the pair identify five imperatives that will help you derive value from IT, with detailed explanations on their implementation. For example, they say you can learn to leverage IT for profitable growth by building a digital ROI into managers’ job descriptions, then hold them accountable for using the company’s IT activities as assets. The authors contend that “IT-savvy executives depend upon a reusable digital platform of business processes, data and systems — and they don’t shy away from addressing IT-related business problems.”

  • Forging Ahead with Innovation: Also available is The Silver Lining (Harvard Business Press, 2009) by innovation advocate Scott D. Anthony. Anthony offers business leaders a path forward despite the current economic turbulence. Anthony is President of Innosight and lead author of The Innovator’s Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work (Harvard Business Press, 2008). In the new book he updates his previous work and uses his current consulting experience to advise leaders to think beyond spending cuts and view innovation as the way to “stop ineffective initiatives, change key business processes, and start more productive behaviors.”

The book provides examples from diverse industries and takes into account the need to safeguard profitability. Among the recommendations are to: prune your innovation and business portfolio; adopt radical new market-segmentation schemes; mitigate risks by conducting strategic experiments and forging alliances; and to fend off low-cost attackers.

  • Value Creation: MIT Professor George Westerman and Gartner’s Richard Hunter team up to remind CIOs of ways they can erase the skepticism some business leaders have about whether their IT investments are paying off. In The Real Business of IT; How CIOs Create and Communicate Value, due out in October from Harvard Business Press, the authors take a fresh look at this long-time problem, concluding that it’s communication, not costs that are at the root of the business-IT disconnect. “Companies that can communicate effectively about the value of IT are able to create more value from IT. When CIOs make IT’s performance and decisions transparent, everyone -- from seasoned technology experts to nontechnical employees -- can better understand their roles in using and managing IT.” 

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