Is the CIO the person to take IT forward?

Are companies well served by their CIOs? In many cases senior executives and boards are sceptical, at best, as to what is being delivered off the back of significant investment in Information Technology.  Is the CIO part of the problem or part of the solution?

Where businesses have a strategy – against which they are executing – chances are the IT has a role to play.  Perhaps there are opportunities in the supply chain or ways to better serve customers or ways to solve design problems more efficiently or in different ways?  Perhaps greater collaboration is required – internally, with partners, with customers?

But does business need a CIO to achieve this?

A CEO or divisional head may need to be aware of some new possibilities in the areas of collaboration or quality control or data analysis.  But does she need a CIO to make this happen? Perhaps she needs better informed executives – with better support within their divisions/ functions/ business units  – to drive these initiatives forward.  More importantly she needs support at Board level to support the required upfront investment (including any required interruptions) or additional monthly payments.

Does the CIO really belong to an era of building internal IT departments with significant inhouse technical capability?

And where there is a CIO we end up with the inevitable handoff from the business to the CIO – and potentially the CIO never succeeds in obtaining the required focus/ support from the business which uis actually seeking the solution in the first instance.

Good CIOs have not stood still.  They understand their own environments, they are familiar with the emerging technologies and they are seeking to involve themselves more closely in the management of the companies in which they work. In some cases they are ruffling feathers by asking some tough questions of business leaders.

Companies still need to understand IT costs, project complexity, requirements/ benefits of integration, data security – where does all of this end up if there is no CIO? And who has the expertise to manage/ broker a number of providers of managed services?

If we accept that there is a challenge (evidenced by recent flatlining/ reductions in IT budgets) then looking to see how more effective leadership can be provided has to be part of the analysis.  Businesses (who have effective strategies) need everything available to them to enable them to execute.  And that includes the best of IT.  Businesses lacking effective strategies will waste money on IT and many other expenses headings.


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UK – gathering momentum for electronic health records

Good to see that US push on electronic health records has not gone unnoticed elsewhere.

UK Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, seems to be push adoption of electronic records and alluding to the nonsense which is the current situation.  Will be interesting to see whether UK government seeks to push some real pounds sterling behind the initiative.

There have been a lot of scare stories about confidentiality of personal data – privacy of personal health records.  The key point is that the records belong to the patient.  Must be possible for patients to get better service by having up to date, comprehensive, electronic patient records which they can choose to share with any healthcare provider.

Some interesting debate taking place in the US now that we are in the ‘meaningful use’ phase of adoption – where providers need to demonstrate that the solutions are being used between providers and between providers and patients in a meaningful way.

We should not underestimate the potential complexity of moving this forward – and some of the likely blockers to change.  But this should be about improving quality of patient care and making it more efficient for everyone.  Should enable providers to provide an improved service.


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Ongoing challenges for traditional retail businesses

Today we read about appointment of Deloitte as administrator to HMV.  As I see my kids charging my credit card, again, last night for downloading songs to their ipods.

This is the reality.  My kids do not need to go to a HMV store to buy music.  In fact over Christmas we were in a HMV store looking for ipod covers and we could not find what we wanted.  Got online the same day and ordered them from Amazon.

And how many people received or gave Amazon (and the like) vouchers over Christmas?

Our own newspapers this weekend featured more articles about the challenges facing retailers in terms of upward only rental reviews in Ireland. There are lots of challenges – including the economy.

Notwithstanding this I think book shops can still  be attractive – with the risk that at all times the buyer is aware of the best on-line price.  Would not claim to be a retailing expert but not sure that the current HMV store in Grafton Street, Dublin,  presents a very attractive buying experience (it needs to be something different and more attractive than the online experience).




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EU and US continue to have different perspectives on Google

Interesting to read Mr Almunia’s (EU Commissioner responsible for competition) comments re Google and any apparent bias in the results of their search engine – as against the recent findings of the FTC.

Ed Black’s recent piece in Forbes makes the case for the FTC decision.

I suspect this has some way to run.  Competitors clearly unhappy that Google is exploiting its position.  Not unfair for Mr Black or Google to point out that others are not without sin either.  But I guess the real concern is the sheer size, dominance, influence of one player and the standards that must be seen to operate for such a player.

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