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Boom or Bust: Effective CIOs Prove Themselves during the Good Times

By Leonard C Wiens, Partner, Tricon Solutions

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Leonard C Wiens, Partner, Tricon Solutions

Global economic activity over the past two years has sent shockwaves through industries and geographies. Cities, states and even countries  found their balance sheets becoming drastically weaker. A war over market share in the Oil and Gas sector led to Brent Crude oil prices that peaked at over $110 a barrel in the first quarter of 2014  collapse to under $28 a barrel in early 2016. China’s slowing economy has dragged down resource based businesses and economies across the world. And companies in these affected industries are rationalizing capital spending and operating costs at a break neck pace to adjust to their new realities.

Many CIOs could then self-promote all of the transformative things they were doing to address their companies’ needs”

It was an easiertime to be a CIO in many respects.

Almost every economy and industry goes through its own growth and contraction cycle. During the good times, easier money for shared service departments results in fewerrigors on spends. Due diligence on spend justification for IT projects lessens. The traditional requirements for well thought out business casesare no longer referenced with such vigor. It is harder for a CIO to argue why the business should leverage an existing application with substantial functionality overlap, versus just purchasing a new one that may be a bit fancier, while providing nominal incremental value. Service tickets and enhancement requests aren’t relentlessly scrutinized, but instead, feed an insatiable appetite for new head-count. All too often, the good economic times get away from CIOs and result in terribly wasteful spending.

Even for the CIO’s who are seeingwhat is happening it is an understandably hard force to stop. There are significantly reduced levers to pull for running a tight ship as a CIO. It is an uphill climb to be disciplined when the business itself offers (or threatens) to cough up its own budget dollars to fund the IT initiative, or worse, to just “do it ourselves”.

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