CIO Perspective: Taking Action in Uncertain Times
Beyond keeping the lights on
Peter Blatman, Principal, Technology Strategy, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Information Technology (IT) touches and enables all other parts of your business, so you can make a case for exempting your department from across-the-board cost-cutting plans. Not from cost-cutting itself — but the calculus here should be in dollars, not percentages. IT can help control costs elsewhere in ways other departments can’t, but lopping a certain fraction off that support across the board could bite back many times over in other areas. Those decisions must be made with more precision.
How is the chief information officer (CIO) role different at the bottom of a downturn? Like everyone else, you're looking for ways to innovate and fuel growth. You’re doing everything you can to contain costs. But you may also have some housecleaning to do. Before the downturn hit, your company may have enjoyed a lot of growth or merger and acquisition (M&A) activity that was never fully integrated or rationalized. There’s no room for those inefficiencies anymore. On the other hand, you can be a champion for smart investments such as cloud computing that will reduce operating costs in the long term.
To promote efficiency while maintaining future potential, it’s more important than ever to align your IT priorities with the company’s core value offering. If your reputation is built on innovation, it’s unwise to gut support for research and development (R&D) or engineering. If you’re known for great customer relations, your data mining and business intelligence operations need to remain strong. If you keep the go-to-market priorities in your sights, it’s easier to tell whether you’re trimming fat or cutting into bone.