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When looking for opportunities to produce ever more impressive results, we know that a CIO is presented with two categories of opportunity areas: (1) projects that you initiate proactively and (2) projects that must be completed to respond to an external catalyst for change. Unfortunately, the typical CIO rarely has the luxury of choosing proactive initiatives over those that are required by external influencers. As such, a major conundrum for CIOs is how to find a way to best position the organization to respond to external requirements quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively enough to still have resources, funds, etc. left over to work on those proactive initiatives that can best benefit the organization-and bolster the CIO's image.

With this in mind, we begin our series by discussing the latest trends in technology utilization-not what technology is new, but rather, how companies are newly leveraging technology for strategic or tactical advantage. "Why not start with other issues facing CIOs?" you ask. The answer boils down to impact and survival. The more prepared you-and your organization-can be to respond to external demands, the more you'll be able to begin tackling the proactive initiatives you believe will best benefit your company and solidify your personal competitive differentiation. After all, we all know that the CIO credo is "Deliver or die!"

In subsequent articles in this series, we'll look at unearthing significant internal proactive opportunities for delivering worth, creating leaders within your staff, the real role of the CIO in today's organization, defining non-disposable evolutionary paths for continuous improvement, effectively molding/managing the organization's perception of IT, practicing newspeak with the executive team, avoiding the five most treacherous IT mistakes, the risks and rewards of information sharing, the information overload potential of RFID, and many other CIO issues.

For decades, organizations have been leveraging information technology (IT) to reduce costs, improve performance, create competitive advantage, etc. Words like automation, integration, process improvement, re-engineering, and others have become a part of our daily business vernacular. But, the incremental benefits organizations can expect to realize from their future IT investments will depend on the extent to which they embark upon the next frontier of IT utilization, becoming a visible business.

In this multi-part series, we’ll look first at where most companies are today and how they got there; the gaps that remain between your current capabilities and what is possible with visible business; the penalties of not addressing those gaps; and what you will need to move forward.


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