Synopses & Reviews
The Practical CIO: A Common Sense Guide for Successful IT Leadership
Author: Jose Carlos Eiras
Foreword by Tony Scott, CIO, Microsoft
In today's ultra-competitive economy, IT must deliver solutions that enable the business to achieve its goals. IT must be aligned with the business; the goals of IT and the rest of the enterprise must be compatible and mutually supporting.
The modern CIO must develop a comprehensive IT strategy that maintains the alignment between IT and the rest of the enterprise. In addition to supporting the business, IT must also be ready to drive the business.
Few executives understand this better than Jose Carlos Eiras, the former CIO of GM Europe. In addition to holding key executive posts at GM, Eiras has also been a senior executive at General Foods, Philip Morris, DHL and other leading global enterprises.
The Practical CIO examines the challenges facing IT from the perspective of top management. It is an invaluable guide to strategy and success in the modern business environment.
Why is The Practical CIO necessary reading now?
As the global economy evolves and transforms, IT executives face dilemmas of truly mythic proportions. Despite understandable feelings of helplessness, they must still choose their destiny. Whether they emerge as heroes or scapegoats is up to them.
The Practical CIO focuses on 10 manageable strategies for success:
1. Build a great team. As the manager of an indispensable organization within a larger business, one of your primary responsibilities is attracting, nurturing, promoting, motivating and preserving talent. This responsibility to find and manage talent extends well beyond the traditional boundaries of the company to include vendors, consultants, business partners and all the various outsourcers that IT depends upon. A deep pool of talent is a great asset and the best hedge against the uncertainties of a bad economy.
2. Proactively establish goals for IT. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do or you'll always be trailing the pack. In a challenging economy, it's actually easier to set realistic goals and accomplish them than it is during periods of rapid growth. Since all areas of the business are in a cost-cutting mode, now is the perfect time to simplify your IT landscape by eliminating legacy systems and redundant components. Remember, IT owns the systems, so there's no excuse for not acting swiftly when the opportunity arises to ditch a costly and inefficient legacy system and replace or revamp it with a more cost-effective alternative.
3. Design the IT strategy. Even in the best of times, you could not raise capital for a business unless it had a strategic plan. Think of IT as a business and think of your company's board of directors as a group of venture capitalists. Write out a strategy for IT, share it with the board and use that strategy as the template for everything you do.
4. Hold all of your vendors accountable. Make certain they are delivering on their promises to you. Remember, they're part of your team. Manage your relationships with them and make sure the contracts you sign reflect your business needs and not just the needs of your vendors.
5. Before negotiating do your homework. Very few CIOs relish the prospect of negotiating contracts with suppliers. Even fewer of them enjoy renegotiating contracts. But in a difficult economy, sometimes you need to bite the bullet, call a supplier and say, You know, this deal just isn't working. That's when you need all your ducks in a row, because renegotiating a contract requires more than courage - you need to know precisely what you're trying to achieve and be ready to offer alternatives.
6. Manage contracts, don't just sign them. Negotiating a good contract can be a burdensome chore. But managing a contract is where the real works starts. Just because you have a signed contract with a service provider does not mean that you can put your feet up on your desk and relax. Business conditions can change, rendering some conditions in the contract meaningless. A shift in business strategy might require you to seek new terms. Nothing is chiseled into stone, no matter what the lawyers tell you. Most of all, a contract does not guarantee performance. It is your job to make sure the provider delivers.
7. Work with the business. The business values results. If you cannot deliver results, the business has no need for you. Once you understand what the business needs in terms of results, you can align IT operations to help the business deliver those results. Work with the business, not for the business.
8. Manage and market the IT brand. IT is a product and like any other product, it cannot speak for itself. That is where you, the CIO, come in. You must put a face on IT, you must explain to the world what IT does and how it creates value. In other words, you must sell IT. But before you can sell IT, you must learn how to market IT. To the amusement of your colleagues in the marketing department, you are likely to discover that marketing a complicated product such as IT is harder than it looks.
9. Build and manage relationships up, down and sideways across the enterprise and beyond its traditional boundaries. Remember that IT is a team effort, and you need cooperation from an extremely wide range of participants, in and out of the organization, to get the most value from your IT systems. Usability and user acceptance will always be critical issues, so don't forget to include the user base in your considerations.
10. Act like a CEO. CIOs need to define their role broadly. They are the chief executives of complex businesses that exist within larger complex businesses. When you act like the CEO of IT, you generate respect for the IT organization. That respect usually translates into more cooperation from all the various constituencies required to keep IT running smoothly. Acting like a CEO also makes it easie
"High tech was once the back end of business strategy. The two are now one, says tech exec Jose Eiras, author of "The Practical CIO." To get with the program, chief information officers should: Think like a CEO. Unlike other areas of a firm, information technology operates best "when it's managed like a free-standing business" as opposed to a service center, Eiras said." (Investors.com, April 16, 2010)
This book is designed for clear-eyed IT and C-level executives with no patience for hype or overly optimistic visions of a better tomorrow. Today's IT executives need help now, and this book provides exactly the kind of hard-nosed, actionable advice that they urgently require. Case studies of international companies are used throughout the book (e.g., IBM, Microsoft, SAP, HP, Dell, Sony, GE, Accenture, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and General Motors). The tentative contents is (1) Build a great team; (2) Proactively establish goals for IT; (3) Hold all of your vendors accountable; (4) Extract maximum value from existing IT investments; (5) Make sure that everyone knows that you are responsible and accountable; (6) Build and manage relationships up, down and sideways across the enterprise and beyond its traditional boundaries; (7) Act like a CEO; and (8) Looking to the Future.
The IT executive's ultimate handbook for survival in a rapidly changing economy
The Practical CIO: A Common Sense Guide for Successful IT Leadership provides needed advice for modern executives competing in a challenging global environment.
- Proactively establish goals for IT
- Hold all vendors accountable
- Extract maximum value from existing IT investments
- Manage and market the IT brand
- Build relationships up, down and sideways across the enterprise and beyond its traditional boundaries
- Act like a CEO
Brimming with interviews and case studies from leading global enterprises such as Microsoft, Prudential, Citigroup, Chiquita Brands, Smithfield Foods and West Marine. The Practical CIO is designed for clear-eyed IT and C-level executives with no patience for hype or overly optimistic visions of a "better tomorrow." Truly a commonsense guide for successful IT leadership, this book delivers exactly the kind of hard-nosed, actionable advice that executives urgently require.
As the global economy evolves and transforms, IT executives face dilemmas of truly mythic proportions. Despite understandable feelings of apprehension, you must still choose your destiny. Do you hunker down and wait timidly for fate, or do you seize the moment and act like a hero?
Guiding you in redefining your role as a chief information officer in a global marketplace, The Practical CIO: A Common Sense Guide for Successful IT Leadership tells it like it is. Here you will find the new modes of thinking and novel approaches necessary to increase your chances of surviving through the turbulence and uncertainty of a rapidly changing economy.
This is a unique book, superbly written by a seasoned executive leader who has "been there, done that" in positions of authority all over the world. Filled with real-world stories of success and failure, this timely book provides crucial advice on:
Attracting, nurturing, promoting, motivating, and preserving talent
Proactively establishing goals for IT
Writing, sharing, and using your IT strategy
Keeping your vendors accountable
Doing your homework before negotiating
Managing contracts—not just signing them
Working with the business
Managing and marketing the IT brand
Building and managing relationships up, down, and sideways across the enterprise and beyond its traditional boundaries
Acting like a CEO
Unlike earlier generations of CIOs, today's IT executives are expected to help the enterprise achieve its business goals. This represents a fundamental shift in thinking and poses a monumental test for the modern CIO. Savvy—and yes, practical— The Practical CIO helps you brace yourself for the coming changes and deal successfully with the challenges ahead of you.
Praise for The Practical CIO
"The insights and stories collected in this book are invaluable. It is filled with useful advice that will help CIOs respond successfully to the challenges and opportunities of rapidly changing global markets. The Practical CIO is pure gold."
—Eric Chow, CIO Asia, Standard Chartered Bank
"José is one of a handful of global CIOs who genuinely understand the crucial need for developing formal IT strategies and managing IT investments in ways that make sense for the business. Many CIOs still focus on the specific needs of IT and lose sight of the big picture. José knows from firsthand experience that successful CIOs leverage the power of IT to support the business and drive its growth."
—Beth Kirkpatrick, former vice president, EDS Europe
"This book shows CIOs how to act like CEOs. In today's ultracompetitive markets, that kind of guidance is priceless."
—Mindy Cunningham, Regional Managing Director, Resources Global Professionals
"I have known José Carlos Eiras for more than three decades, and in my opinion, his combination of vision and intelligence is truly unique. Senior executives responsible for managing information technology investments will find this book extremely useful. I highly recommend this book."
—Michael Moran, former chief financial officer, Kibon, Brazil
"José is smart, skilled, and savvy. Anyone with a stake in the IT industry will learn valuable lessons from this excellent new book."
—Mike Barlow, coauthor of Partnering with the CIO
If it looks like IT, feels like IT, and smells like IT, then it is IT . . .and you're responsible for it
Never before have CIOs faced the kind of tough decisions they are being forced to make as the economy undergoes incredibly rapid shifts. The ultimate road map to a "new normal," The Practical CIO: A Common Sense Guide for Successful IT Leadership is your common sense guide for successful IT leadership, delivering exactly the kind of hard-nosed, actionable advice that will keep your career on an upward path.
About the Author
JOSÉ CARLOS EIRAS was most recently CIO at DHL Express U.S.A., a division of Deutsche Post World Net (DPWN), the world's leading logistics and transportation company. Prior to joining DHL, he served as European CIO and Global Services Information Officer at General Motors. He has also held top executive posts at General Foods, Philip Morris, and other multinational corporations. Eiras is a recognized industry expert and respected IT consultant; he has a solid foundation of support in the global IT community.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Build a Great Team.
Chapter 2 Proactively Establish Goals for IT.
Chapter 3 Design the IT Strategy.
Chapter 4 Hold All of Your Vendors Accountable.
Chapter 5 Before Negotiating, Do Your Homework.
Chapter 6 Manage Contracts, Don’t Just Sign Them.
Chapter 7 Work With the Business.
Chapter 8 Manage and Market the IT Brand.
Chapter 9 Building Relationships Across the Enterprise—And Beyond.
Chapter 10 Act Like a CEO.
About the Author.