Page Two

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2003-05-12 Print this article Print

Next, and most ironically, CIOs blamed their own IT departments for failure to implement the products correctly. But in the enterprise, IT departments typically spend huge amounts of time reverse-engineering spaghetti code left by the CIOs long-gone predecessors rather than implementing the vision that the new CIO has failed to communicate to them.

Finally, the CIOs blame end users for not being able to handle new software implementations. Most likely, the end users had no idea of the process in the first place because the CIO failed to communicate that there would be new software deployed and that theyd need to change the way they worked. In September, Accenture, a major integrator, said that 75 percent of CRM systems failed because of flawed execution plans. The No. 1 problem with a flawed execution plan, according to many studies, is failure to garner the support of the staff.

CIOs as communicators? The only thing they communicate is how necessary they are to the CFO. But that doesnt keep CIOs from being little more than pawns of the CFOs. The average tenure of CIOs is 18 months. CIOs are supposed to fix things, but more often than not, they leave a mess behind for the next CIO to clean up.

It will be interesting to watch how the CIOs deal with the new batch of CRM systems, which are hosted by ASPs. These applications are more flexible, can be implemented faster, have at least some integration capabilities and are generally less expensive.

In fact, the goal of most of the hosted CRM systems we tested is to be implemented and usable in two weeks to four months. Believe me, four months is taking it leisurely. A product like should take no more than six weeks to be up and running—and that includes training time.

Could these applications save CIOs from themselves? I doubt it. In many cases, departments in large organizations are bypassing the CIOs and using the applications on their own terms. When CIOs are involved, the hosted CRM applications are used as point solutions—solving some tactical problem without concern for the future. Its only rarely that the CIO considers how a hosted CRM solution may be a strategic asset to an organization.

Strategic? What we really need are chief architects, not misinformation officers. Maybe its time for organizations to evaluate just how strategic CIOs are.

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As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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