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All a CIO Wants for Christmas Is…

Is it all pie in the sky speculation and supposition or is there meat here to feast on?

So it's the end of the year and we've all had about as many 2012 retrospectives and 2013 predictions as we can eat. So let's take a different tack and see if some fanciful (but hopefully somewhat informed) conjecture can give us some pointers for future innovation roadmaps.

What do chief information officers really want to find in their Christmas stockings this year?

Let's start with the obvious - it's probably not another stack of whitepapers or surveys detailing "findings that suggest" 61% of it security professionals say businesses are more vulnerable to attack during the holiday period. These are not CIO goodies, nor are analyst reports breaking down the rise of PC shipments to China and the rise of cloud computing infrastructures.

Really Useful CIO Presents
Actually, while you might imagine that the fanciest most powerful smartphones might top the list of what the CIO wants, it's probably the more mundane elements of technology that are going to go down really well.

Given the rise of high-end social enterprise collaboration software being produced now by everyone from IBM to Salesforce.com (and many other smaller less "behemoth" size vendors), the emphasis is very much on the front-end user functions that appear to be most tangible first.

Allow me to explain, while social enterprise chat and "collaboration" functions are at the "sexy" end of this innovation curve; it is the core elements like an effective enterprise calendaring solution that will really make the difference in terms of the way employees are able to work and be more productive.

Fantasy Future Email Solution
Present number #2 is even simpler to work out. CIOs want less email. But how can we make this happen? Answer: "intuitive contextualized email content data analysis filtering" set to a pre-programmed level of control by the user based on co-correlation of data relating to his or her direct and indirect colleagues, company stakeholders, partners and (of course) customers".

Does this exist? Of course it doesn't, but it should.

By now we should be able to use the data analytics technologies at the forefront of in-memory computing to produce real time results that will help us deal with the blight of unnecessary emails and reduce our stress loads. The trouble is, the human "control freak" factor could still get in the way and people might just generally still think that they want to see everything that is sent to them.

Hopefully, if the human curiosity factor prevails, then extremely well-connected smartphones will allow us to clear our inboxes on the move for some years to come. Maybe you should reserve a few kind words for Research In Motion and the BlackBerry mobile email model despite the company's rough ride of recent times.

What is needed is a new paradigm and BlackBerry 10 is here with us from January 30 2013. Alas, pre-orders for the unit are not going to be on too many CIOs list for Santa. Devices like the new Nokia Lumia 920 are packing a heavyweight punch and OK so this comment might be out of date in six months time, but this unit is even making the Windows Metro interface look good right now.

A Seat at the Table
Present #3 is really simple too. CIOs want a full voice at the boardroom table and want IT to be seen as a business enabler and facilitator i.e. not simply as a necessary evil and service function that must exist in order for all employees to be able to do their job anyway.

"Today's CIOs understand the need to innovate quickly to help create new business opportunities, to find faster, easier and cheaper ways of completing tasks, and ultimately, to unlock their company's full potential in order to remain competitive," said Andi Mann, vice president, Strategic Solutions, CA Technologies.

The Innovative CIO
Mann has just written a book with co-authors George Watt and Peter Matthews entitled "The Innovative CIO" which seeks to help promote the injection of IT into the dynamic core of an organization's culture, training, structure, practice and policy. Ah... you can just hear CIOs everywhere getting all watery eyed and wistful at the very thought.

Let's cut to the chase. All CIOs really want for Christmas is better software.

Research firm voke released data showing that 40-50 percent of the work IT performs falls in to the "rework category" and this is a huge tax on departments' abilities to deliver new functionality.

Senior VP of worldwide marketing for Serena Software David Hurwitz says that that if he were a CIO, "I'd want to cut that rework down and spend more time on creating value. This is a great example of where the old maxim ‘measure twice, cut once' applies to IT."

No surprise to find that a company specializing in DevOps-focused software orchestration or release management (to use a less colourful term) tools is advocating control at this level, but hey - it's a good CIO gift if it works.

"Better software delivery processes will help IT deliver software right the first time, with the large companion benefit that much more software can be delivered by development organisations that are dramatically less burdened by rework," said Hurwitz, who agreed to be quoted in a Santa outfit on the basis of his comments being used here.

There's our CIO Christmas list. Is it all pie in the sky speculation and supposition or is there meat (and gravy and cranberry sauce obviously) here to feast on? Let's hope it's a bit of everything with all the trimmings.

•   •   •

This post first appeared on CIO Enterprise Forum.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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