Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Entrepreneurial Personality

“Do you have an Entrepreneurial Mindset”

... Are you ready to change your life to support your vision and passion.

See how you measure up:

1. Do you work well alone? [Y|N]
2. Are you disciplined? [Y|N]
3. Are you naturally competitive & persuasive? [Y|N]
4. Do you harbour an inner drive to succeed? [Y|N]
5. Are you confident and assertive? [Y|N]
6. Do you have a sense of humour & a positive outlook? [Y|N]
7. Can you make decisions and live with the outcome (good or bad)? [Y|N]
8. Does being told NO, it can not be done - make you try even harder? [Y|N]
9. Are you understanding and humble? [Y|N]
10.Are you always looking for ways to improve something, or yourself? [Y|N]

If you answered yes to 7 or more, start writing your business plan and go for it.
If you do nothing else for yourself this year, make 'Six Figure Mindset' your transformational year a priority

Read More......

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recovering Your Organisation

“5 steps to getting your Organisation back on its feet”

  • Maintain Business Vision:
    ... don't lose sight of your (strategic & tactical) vision

  • Motivate People:
    ... motivating your people to want to change is not an option. Change starts with you, take a long hard look in the mirror; if you can do it so can they...

  • Cut through Bureaucracy:
    ... Communicate with Enthusiam, Energise your Thinking, Listen with both ears and eyes, Execute and Take Action

  • Changing Mindsets:
    ... Re-shaping the old way with new culture

  • Manage with Less:
    ... Adopting a lean(er) culture and structure, the timing is everything, act fast to deliver 100% efficiency to your customers inside and outside your organisation

Read More......

Monday, February 09, 2009

Best Job in the World

“1st July start, deadline closes on 22 Feb 2009”

Are you ready for to take on the "best job in the world" - Can you become the new caretaker of the "Great Barrier Reef" in Queensland Australia!

Exit the credit crunch and enjoy an alternative uplifting career challenge for 6 months of this year starting July 1st on a pro-rata salary of 70k (AUD$150,000) plus accommodation on Hamilton Island.

Tourism Queensland will organise a schedule of travel and events on the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Your schedule could include sampling a new luxury spa treatment at qualia on Hamilton Island, trying out new snorkelling gear on Heron Island, or bushwalking on Hinchinbrook Island.

Read More......

Friday, February 06, 2009

Curbing Pay, Obama Seeks to Alter Corporate Culture

“Curbing Executive Pay”

NY Times reported on Wednesday the executive pay limits

President Obama is trying to hold the financial industry accountable to taxpayers while aiming to change an entrenched corporate culture that endorses outsize bonuses and perks that often bear little relationship to corporate performance

President Obama is on his way to altering 'Corporate Culture' in America; changing the face of culture across the corporate board will mean more structured salaries. The brightest and the best who failed at performance are facing 2009 with a reality check "shape up or shape out"

The new rules would set a $500,000 cap on cash compensation for the most senior executives, curtail severance pay when top executives left a company, restrict cashing in on stock incentives until government assistance was repaid and prod corporate boards to closely scrutinize luxury perquisites like private jets and country club memberships.

New rules will mean Shareholders have more say about restricting stock incentives and bonuses capping. Obama commented on Wednesday

We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success. And we believe that success should be rewarded. But what gets people upset — and rightfully so — are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers

Hopefully this is sending out the right message not only in the USA but in UK, Europe and everywhere else; people want to be the CEO but very few want to “Do” CEO moving in this direction is politically necessary.

Source: NY Times

Read More......

Monday, February 02, 2009

Been made redundant?

”Survival Tips

If you are one of the many thousands of workers up and down the country to be told you're out of a job, help is at hand. With money tight, making sure you are getting everything you are entitled to is paramount.

Don't panic

While losing your job is both financially and emotionally devastating, it's really important to stay calm and work out your options.

Firstly, visit your local job centre as soon as you can to make sure you get all the benefits you are entitled to as quickly as possible, while you job hunt. Likewise, visit your local Citizen Advice Bureau if you require extra advice such as legal or technical information.Some of the bigger firms give free redundancy counselling - offering both practical and emotional support to help you find work and sort your finances out. Take advantage of this as anything that helps you re-establish some stability is the key to getting your life and finances back on track.

Redundancy notice and pay - check your employment contract

Check your employment contract and read over your redundancy rights. By law, you are entitled to notice based on how many years you have been working for the company - a week per year, up to a maximum of 12 years.

To qualify for a statutory redundancy payment, you need to have completed at least two years' service. The formula is half a week's pay for each year if you are between 18 and 21; one week's pay up to and including the age of 41; and thereafter 1.5 week's pay subject to a maximum of 20 years. The payment is capped at £330 a week - a dramatic pay cut for those who have been on higher incomes.

Redundancy packages - negotiate the best deal possible
Companies are aware that staff redundancies are a terrible blow to the whole workforce. Beyond your statutory redundancy pay, some employers may also agree to a lump payment - often a month's salary for every year's service - the first £30,000 is tax-free.

If you are paid more than this, the rest is paid at your highest rate - so 40% for those in the top tax band. For those that are currently higher-rate taxpayers there are steps you can take to improve your cash flow position. Ask your company to ensure that this money is paid after you receive your P45 - the tax document you get when you leave your job. This will ensure that only 20% of the remaining payout is taxed at source.

If you do get this money in your last pay packet, then 40% will be deducted at source. In most cases these workers will have to pay the remaining tax in the following year's tax return

You could also negotiate your period of notice and holiday leave in exchange for payment. Or, your boss may allow you to stay in the company medical scheme.

Use redundancy payments to boost your pension

Workers can avoid tax altogether on any surplus by paying this directly into their pension. Under current rules, individuals can pay the equivalent of their annual salary each year into their pension plan and they will receive tax relief on these payments. This means for higher-rate taxpayers a £60 payment is worth £100 in their pension, once the Government has added tax relief. Basic-rate taxpayers have to put £80 into their pension to get the same £100 contribution, thanks to the vagaries of tax relief.)

This is a particularly attractive option for those who are 50-plus. This is because you can draw a lump sum from your pension once you reach the age of 50, so those in this age group can instantly take up to 25% of their pension fund as a tax-free lump sum. In other words they get the benefits of tax relief but can still have access to the majority of this money if they need it for day-to-day living expenses.

For younger workers this may be a tax-efficient option, but it isn't recommended if you think you are going to need these funds in the immediate future - it could be locked away for a long time.

Remember that from April 2010 people will have to be aged 55 or over before they can take a quarter of their pension fund as a tax-free lump sum.

Counting the cost

Sort out all your priority debts such as your rent or mortgage, fuel bills and council tax. It is well worth calculating a fresh budget, post redundancy, to assess your outgoings and costs.

In the current economic climate it is more crucial than ever to factor in redundancy in advance of making any financial commitments - from loans and mortgages, to credit cards and hire purchase agreements.

If you have taken out unemployment insurance - call your provider straight away and find out what you are entitled to. You are likely to be asked to submit a copy of the official letter of redundancy and notice details, so get all your paperwork ready.

For those who have not been made redundant but are worried about their job security, it may be worth looking into income protection just in case the worst happens. Make sure you check the terms and conditions carefully before you buy because providers are clamping down on unemployment cover given the current climate - many insurers will still cover unemployment as long as you have not been officially notified that there will be cutbacks and provided that you are not made redundant in the first 120 to 190 days.

Before you buy any new cover, it's also worth checking what protection you already have in place - if you have mortgage, loan or credit card payment protection insurance you may already be covered for redundancy.

Mortgage worries

For homeowners, redundancy can mean losing more than your job. Repossessions have shot up and the latest statistics show that every 10 minutes a house is repossessed with a rise of 24% in the number of homeowners falling behind with mortgage repayments.

The advice is to contact your lender straight away because if you fall behind on your payments and have not informed them, your lender could apply to the county court for possession of your home.

If you have taken out a mortgage payment protection plan, call the provider and explain your circumstances. The rules on these products are strict and paperwork checks can be lengthy.

Due to the huge escalation in repossessions, there is now an agreement from the major lenders called a pre-action protocol, allowing lenders three months' breathing space. Some lenders may even allow six months but you have to inform them of your situation and your job-seeking efforts.

As of this month, the Government has reduced the length of time for those on benefit to be entitled to housing payments covering the interest on their mortgage. To qualify claimants need to be registered unemployed for at least 13 weeks, as opposed to 39 weeks previously. There are some restrictions and you will need all your mortgage paperwork, but it is worth the effort.

Check your savings - your 'rainy day' has arrived

If you are made redundant, it may be time to dip into your 'rainy day' savings. Building a savings buffer is a great idea but do check if there is not a penalty for withdrawing cash quickly.

And once you've received your redundancy save it carefully. With interest rates at record lows it's hard to make a decent return on your savings at the moment, but there is a big difference between the best and worst paying accounts so make sure you maximise your return.

If you haven't already done so, use your Isa allowance first. You can invest up to £3,600 in a cash Isa and interest is paid tax-free. If you have money left over, go for a standard savings account and look to draw on these funds first because once you take money out of an Isa you lose the tax-break on it. For more information on savings accounts, read Kevin Mountford's article, 'How to choose a savings account'.

Many of the highest interest rates are available on fixed rate accounts, but if you will need your redundancy money to live off, this type of account isn't suitable as you cannot normally access your capital during the fixed term. Instead look for an easy access account that allows penalty free withdrawals.

Among cash Isas, Scottish Widows bank E-Cash Isa is paying 3.6%, while Yorkshire Building Society has the best catch-free standard easy access account at 3.75%. Click here to compare more savings rates.

A word of caution however. Those applying for Income Support and Job Seeker's Allowance will have to declare their savings and this may affect their benefits.

Still in a job but...

Naturally, even if you are still in work the spiraling economic downturn could result in job losses in the future. The best thing you can do is plan now to make sure you are prepared should you be made redundant:

  • Make sure you have a savings buffer in place - putting aside some money each month as an income back-up plan is a great idea.

  • Tackle your debts. If you have outstanding debts on credit cards or loans try and pay them down as this will be much easier to do while you have an income. If you are made redundant you'll want minimal monthly outgoings.

  • If you are struggling with debt, seek advice straight away - inform your creditors if you are having problems and see if they will agree to accept lower payment from you each month.

  • Home owners should check that they are fully protected. Update any policies and read the fine print on redundancy and unemployment cover. Mortgage protection policies could be a life-saver - it is one thing to lose your job but losing your home is one risk you could avoid by taking out sufficient cover.

  • Most employees never check the redundancy section on their contracts. Dig yours out and see what your rights are - forewarned is forearmed.


Read More......

Sunday, February 01, 2009

C. K. Prahalad - Management Expert

C. K. Prahalad

“Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad (pronounced as: Pra-huh-laadh)... is the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, specialises in corporate strategy ”

C. K. Prahalad is the author of a number of well known works in corporate strategy including The Core Competence of the Corporation (Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1990). He has authored several international bestsellers, including: "Competing for the Future"(with Gary Hamel), 1994, "The Future of Competition," (with Venkat Ramaswamy), 2004 and "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits," Wharton School Publishing, 2004. His new book with co-author M. S. Krishnan is called The New Age of Innovation.

He was co-founder and became CEO of Praja Inc ("Praja" from a Sanskrit word "Praja" which means "citizen" or "common people"). The goals of the company ranged from allowing common people to access information without restriction (this theme is related to the "bottom of pyramid" or BOP philosophy) to providing a testbed for various management ideas. The company eventually laid off 1/3rd of its workforce and was sold to TIBCO. He his still on the board of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs.

Prahalad has been a top ten management thinker in every major survey for over ten years. Business Week said of him: "a brilliant teacher at the University of Michigan, he may well be the most influential thinker on business strategy today." He is a member of the blue ribbon commission of the United Nations on Private Sector and Development. He is the first recipient of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award for contributions to Management and Public Administration presented by the President of India in 2000.

Read More......

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We are all architects of our fate

“Peter F. Drucker – The Practice of Management (1954)”

We must develop yardsticks [measurements] – with some way to distinguish between creative and parasitical overhead; the impact on productivity of time utilisation, product mix, process mix, organisation structure and the balance of activities

Read More......

Monday, January 26, 2009

IT outsourcing contracts merit review given scandal at Indian firm

“Satyam scandal will have ramifications across the industry if Satyam customers flee and take their business to other IT outsourcers”

Rachel Lebeaux of Search CIO writes in her latest reporting that Customers of any IT outsourcer that runs into trouble should consider renegotiating their IT outsourcing contract, and make sure they have the documentation and staffing needed to take their business elsewhere, experts said this week in the wake of the financial scandal at Indian IT services firm Satyam Computer Services Ltd.

She further goes on to say that "even if a crisis is limited to one provider, CIOs with any outsourcing contracts have work to do, to make sure their projects or levels of service are uninterrupted."

News broke last week that Satyam, a 22-year-old global IT services firm based in Hyderabad, India, had been listing assets far in excess of what it actually held, a scandal that has been referred to by some as "India's Enron." The "financial irregularities," disclosed by the firm's founder, were followed by other allegations. The company denies these charges.

Source: SearchCIO

Read More......

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

uberblog: Obama presidential inauguration 20 Jan 2009

uberblog: Obama presidential inauguration 20 Jan 2009

“President Obama's speech was outstanding, uplifting and inspirational”

... My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath ...

The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and ploughed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction. This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.

Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.

With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the fire-fighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

... This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

... This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

... This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.

At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: “Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Read More......

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama presidential inauguration 20 Jan 2009

“Monumental expectations for Obama's inauguration address”

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural address is one of the most anticipated speeches in decades, with many expecting his words to be chiseled into marble some day.

Obama has a high reputation in giving excellent speeches and tommorrow will mark a national milestone the inaugration of the first african american president. It is expected that Obama is likely honour Martin Luther Kings legacy and to refer to King and the dramatic struggles African-Americans have fought as they emerged from slavery and fought for full civil rights

In the 1963 speech, delivered to a civil rights rally on the Mall in Washington, King said:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Obama has said he has been studying previous inaugural addresses -- including President Abraham Lincoln's and the speeches President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave as he took office amid the Great Depression.

Tommorrow Obama will declare his administration's intent, making his first presidential speech and take office.

Here's wishing Barack all the best tomorrow on one of the memorable days in history and every other day afterwards

Source: CNN

Read More......

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Business process improvement tops IT '09 agenda, say Gartner, IT execs

“CIOs are essentially going to have the same resources as last year to address a whole new range of problems.”

Enterprise IT budgets in 2009 are nearly flat, and CIOs must drive business process improvement while creatively using existing resources to advance their organizations' agendas.

So says the latest research from Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based consultancy, as well as interviews with CIOs, who put business process improvement atop their agenda for 2009. Today, Gartner releases the results of its 2009 CIO Agenda survey, which took the pulse of more than 1,500 CIOs between Sept. 15 -- just as news of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s bankruptcy filing broke and stock markets subsequently tumbled -- and Dec. 15, 2008

The survey finds that IT budgets in 2009 will rise, but by such a miniscule percentage -- .16% -- as to be considered flat.

Therefore, organizations are not slashing their IT budgets wholesale -- "in fact, they are using IT to change the way the company works, to make it more effective and efficient," said Mark McDonald, a group vice president at Gartner and author of the study. "CIOs are essentially going to have the same resources as last year to address a whole new range of problems."

The survey, which ranked CIOs' top priorities, found that "improving business processes" topped the list once again this year, with 57% naming it as a top concern. Following that was "reducing enterprise costs" with 51% and "improving enterprise workforce effectiveness," which was up three spots from last year and garnered 37%.

Those pretty much mirror the mandates for Kathy Schue, district technician for the Gresham-Barlow School District in Gresham, Ore. "With the budget downturn, our No. 1 priority in the coming year is finding efficiencies in all processes -- not only in the technology department with network infrastructure, but since this is education, we have teachers, administrators and everybody else," she said.

The school system serves 13,000 users, including staff, employees and students. Six people work in IT, and Schue says her department's budget is down close to 12%, making it all the more important to accomplish as much as possible with the resources it already has.

"We're analyzing how things are currently done, and finding out if there's a way to either automate them or use other tools we currently have, or invest in new tools if they show efficiency," Schue said.

For instance, the department has decided to build a database in-house for its work order system, and expand it down to the user level. "We figure it's saving us at least $20,000 just on implementation and development," Schue said. "We have very talented staff, and they're always wanting to learn new things, so we're making sure we're cross-training so, if we lose someone, we're not left in a hole with services not being maintained."

Randy Meyers, information security officer at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., said he certainly agreed with the top priorities cited in Gartner's survey. "We're obviously looking at things at a much more tactical level and figuring out what are the points of pain," he said.

There are about 1,500 faculty and staff members at Ithaca College, with about 75 working in IT. The school is looking at virtualization for consolidation of servers, as well as modernizing a lot of its infrastructure.

Although IT's budget is down a bit -- less than 5%, Meyers said -- the school is still following through on a three-year, multimillion-dollar network security rearchitecture.

"IT, historically, is not a budget priority, but people are starting to learn the value of IT," he said. "They can save time and money and energy on their end -- the business unit -- if their IT systems are good and efficient."

Schue said her school district is also following through on previous plans, such as a five-year desktop computer renewal plan. "With the rate that technology grows and changes, it's just not possible to get off that schedule," she said.

Schue said she also sees a positive attitude toward investing in IT despite the recession. For decision makers in the school district, "this has been a very big year for opening their eyes," she said. "They've never really paid attention to what IT does before. Now they're looking for efficiencies and ways to transform processes. They're looking more to IT for ideas, suggestions and implementations of new approaches. It's good for us."

IT restructuring includes focus on governance

For its part, Gartner is seeing organizations change their cost structures and use IT differently.

In particular, some companies are restructuring IT to make it more flexible, both in terms of costs and resources, to enhance the ability to do different kids of projects. "A lot of IT organizations are organized around specific IT assets -- ERP, CRM -- so when the business wants to make a change, it has to negotiate with multiple teams to accomplish a particular goal," McDonald said. "So we are now seeing a reorganization around processes and products, as opposed to around teams, to be more responsive to those needs."

For instance, Deutsche Bank AG has implemented a service delivery framework, which reflects a greater focus on products and processes and makes IT resources more flexible to move across individual processes and initiatives, McDonald said.

Intel Corp. has simplified its IT governance by eliminating multiple governance structures. It has established a formal application retirement initiative, and this year expects to eliminate more than 200 applications, McDonald said. In addition, staff is being reorganized so more people are working on development.

In the past several months, Carquest Corp., an auto-parts retailer, has put additional energy into simplifying its IT governance structure. "It needed to reprioritize its entire project portfolio to focus on essential projects first," McDonald said.

The report also recommends that enterprises "modernize," which will actually aid your organization's bottom line. If an organization's infrastructure is pre-2005, there are significant opportunities to provide more compute power at a lower average cost, and at a lower operating cost, he said. "The new price point for performance and capacity capability of hardware is significantly greater than it was in the past," McDonald said.

Source: Rachel Lebeaux, Associate Editor

Read More......