Viewpoint: Digital storm sweeps into CEO offices

Sitting at the top of the company ladder no longer means using traditional methods to manage operations and drive profits to ensure a healthy bottom line. Utilising and implementing IT at the heart of your business’s core functions is now a must otherwise you will fast be left behind

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By  Anil Kumar Published  February 16, 2006

|~||~||~|In today’s business world IT is crucial to the centralisation of the majority of a company’s operations and CEOs are more than playing their part. The individual at the top of the corporate tree is increasingly recognising the critical role IT plays in helping his business to stay on top of the game. Whether it is sales, operations, customer expectations and suppliers, IT is core to those functions. Most CEOs have risen from the ranks and earned their positions at the hub of the company through being ‘business savvy’ and having a close understanding of what is key to their business’s success. The days when CEOs were a collection of techno-innocent business people are almost over. Technology spend has become too big a part of most corporate budgets for CEOs to ignore. IT now represents more than 50% of all business equipment spending versus less than 20% 25 years ago and is today thought of as a major investment. The CEO is where the buck stops for any project, however insufficient IT knowledge can lead to spectacular failure. The main bulk of corporate technology projects that succeed are completed on time, within budget, and with most of the desired features and functions ready to roll out. Over time this has risen to around 30% but the figure remains disappointing. Chief IT officers should think again. The failure of IT systems rollouts is far too often blamed on the system itself or the consultant’s ‘failure to manage the project’. However, the truth generally comes out when the CEO and his team fail to fully understand the scope of the project – this is when some decision makers lag behind others. The worse case scenario is when CEOs are physically replaced because off their inability to understand technology. These CEOs don’t have to become IT nerds to avert tech disasters, they can do better than simply adopt the ‘delegate and blame’ method. So what is the mould of an IT savvy CEO? Today, more and more CEOs are wired to their organisations 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They invariably exploit and benefit from the tools at their disposal such as mobile phones, PDAs and laptops in an increasingly wireless world. The wireless revolution is gatecrashing all boundaries allowing you to be truly global anywhere and at anytime. Radio Frequency Identification is also fast replacing most conventional technologies and making logistics and operations faster and more effective. And with technology now ever present, the workforce and the extended supply chain can be sourced from anywhere and with minimal effort. But besides technology, conventional means such as scanning the business pages, talking to peers, and listening to members of the IT team, can objectively help CEOs stay on top of the game and enable them to become technologically wiser. Like a captain sitting in the cockpit of a plane, IT can give CEOs a 10 000 metre perspective on the critical, real-time status of every aspect of a business. This, alongside the ability to drill down to specific details is what every CEO needs and wants. The modern day CEO has a plethora of technological options to stay ahead of the pack. Not only this, he can use technology as a major differentiator among a fiercely competitive field where knowledge is the key to success. Love IT or hate IT it is almost imperative that you use IT.||**||

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