Introducing the I-Manager

One of the best things about being a controlled-circulation publication is that we know exactly who our readers are.

One of the best things about being a controlled-circulation publication is that we know exactly who our readers are. Our Web site, of course, is open to everyone, and we welcome all online readers who find our content useful. But if youre reading this column in print, its because you took the time to fill out our qualification form and we decided you were the kind of reader we wanted — an I-manager.

You wont find that term in any dictionary — at least, not yet. We made it up earlier this year because we felt we had to. Let me explain.

To qualify as an Interactive Week subscriber you have to be either a service provider or a crucial cog in your enterprises interactive machinery — the person authorized by a corporation, firm, association, government agency, you name it, to decide what hardware, software, network and communications technologies and services will satisfy your organizations business needs. You must have the authority to buy and implement those solutions.

There was a time, not long ago, when the majority of readers who qualified from the enterprise side were the executives in charge of information technologies — the "IT guys." Its not that simple anymore.

To be sure, the IT executives among you are still top dog in many enterprises — and among our most veteran and valued readers. But in the past year, the Fortune 1000s attitude toward the Internet shifted from a panicked "We have to be there yesterday at any cost!" to "Where does it advance our business plan?" And we began observing an evolution in the way corporations embrace the Internet, telecommunications and other interactive technologies. This wasnt just a matter of new job titles. Since we qualify you by function rather than title, youve always been a polyglot bunch, with designations ranging from CEO, COO, CIO and executive vice president for business development to tech evangelist, IT director, systems chief, solutions guru, and hundreds of other business and tech labels in between.

Whats changing is the nature of your authority and responsibility within the enterprise. No matter what division or department you came from, suddenly theres a lot more strategic business responsibility in your portfolio. How that change manifests itself depends on your own professional strengths and your enterprises corporate culture. In some cases, IT executives with strong business and management experience are finding themselves propelled up the management ladder and suddenly responsible for bottom-line objectives far beyond their departments budgets. In other cases, IT is finding itself relegated to the role of digital maintenance crew, as authority for selecting interactive technologies is increasingly assumed by high-ranking business executives assigned to oversee e-commerce initiatives.

But how you got to this point is irrelevant. To us, youre the I-manager, the executive entrusted with overseeing the design and evolution of your companys interface with its crucial constituencies — employees, vendors, partners and, most important, customers. As your challenges have grown, so has your need for a wide range of relevant information. Thats where we come in.

In April, we introduced our weekly I-manager Profile, a quick snapshot of one of your colleagues — where he or she fits into an enterprise, what relationships exist with other divisions and departments, how decisions are made. We even ask how this colleague relaxes and what kind of car he or she drives.

More recently, we undertook a detailed survey of our subscribers. The purpose was twofold: to discover how to deliver the news, insight and advertising most relevant to your challenges today and in the future, and to offer a mirror of sorts, in which you can explore the evolution thats redefining your profession.

Today, we offer you the results of our survey, a glimpse of who you are and how you fit into the big picture. Many of you will recognize yourselves in these pages. But remember: This is an evolution in the making. If you dont see your reflection today, take another peek tomorrow.