Five Resolutions For 2006

Technology Staff Editor
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Every January I can count on two things: winter weather hampering my travels and an in-box full of messages from CIOs having made a New Year's resolution to find a new career opportunity, asking about the global job market. My advice to these executives is to broaden their thinking and resolve to make positive changes in their management style and in their own career. In sum, here are the five resolutions CIO should make in 2006: Establish a CIO succession plan. CIOs should seek strong, highly qualified managers to succeed them as they cross over to more general, high-level business management. Grooming one or more potential successors will not put strong CIOs at risk of being pushed aside. It is one of the best ways for CIOs to demonstrate confidence in their leadership capabilities to their company's CEO. A thoughtful, well-communicated succession plan will also attract talent to a CIO's organization. Pursue a board seat with another company. In 2005 we saw a growing demand from public companies to round out their board membership with a CIO, especially one who can marry technological expertise to broader strategic visions. Serving on the board of another company is a great way for CIOs to broaden their exposure to other business leaders, learn how other organizations approach similar challenges, and enhance the status of the CIO position itself. Ask how convergence can be a competitive advantage. Convergence of voice, data, and images is getting closer every day. The CIOs who understand this and can control the technology will be able to produce efficiencies for companies on an entirely new level. Marrying this type of productivity enhancement to the company's long-term vision will put a CIO in a strong position to be a central member of the top executive team. Improve relationships with visionary executives. CFOs and chief strategy officers both see themselves as visionaries and create budget, spending, and strategic plans that look three to five years out. CIOs need to be in close communication with these officers, in order to be part of the strategic planning process for their company—and to enhance the profile of the entire technology staff. In addition, with merger-and-acquisition activity expected to reach record levels in 2006, improved communications with these key executives will help solidify the CIO's role in M&A planning, due diligence, and integration. Think and implement true global strategies. CIOs should adopt the motto "think global or die" for their company and their career. The shifts are seismic—with China being home to the world's fastest-growing economy and India's economy growing 8.1% in the six-month period from April to September 2005. The upshot is that increasingly important CIO and other executive roles will have a large global collaboration component. Any CIO who can implement a true global strategy--one that is managed with equal success at world headquarters and at business units eight time zones away—will be in high demand. Rare are the CIOs who truly grasp the significance of globalization beyond outsourcing and supply chain logistics. To create a career that will take them to 2010, CIOs must make a global strategic view part of their everyday thinking. Umesh Ramakrishnan is vice chairman of executive search firm Christian & Timbers. Tell us your resolutions for 2006, for either your career or your company.


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