It’s not good to be known as the CIO who only cuts costs

It’s not good to be known as the CIO who only cuts costs

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CIO The Big Lesson from Twelve Good Decisions

CIOs are constantly facing pressure to cut costs. But any IT leader who buckles under that pressure and focuses solely on shaving costs should fear losing their job to somebody who says, "I can grow the top line revenue.” After all, CEOs have a vested interest in growth.

Focusing on cutting costs is not a recipe for success. Yes, it’s something you have to do. But it’s something you should do quickly, in small ways, and then focus on spending the money you saved on growth for the rest of the business. That’s a much more successful recipe.

Information technology is becoming part of everything that we do. On the front end, we have devices doing things that could never be done before. On the back end, we can now run everything on the cloud, which means we have unlimited resources at our disposal – unlimited storage, unlimited computing. As a result, we can do some very heavy computation that wasn’t feasible before.

Gone are the days when you needed to spin up a data center with a fixed amount of compute capacity. With the cloud, you only pay for what you use. It’s cheaper and easier to turn to cloud solutions.

What does that really mean?

It means you could keep shaving costs, but at some point you’re going to reach zero. Given that the demand for IT is skyrocketing, it doesn’t make sense to focus on cutting the budget for the very department your organization needs to grow. Instead, zero in on growing the top line revenue. One way to do that is to use data analytics to help identify what efforts are worth digging into deeper.

You can also use data analytics to show how IT is enabling growth. By having the metrics, you can demonstrate how you already are, or how you could be, growing revenue for the business. By showing how IT enables growth, you can become known as the CIO focused on growth rather than cuts. Which one would you rather be known as?


"Is your IT department a cost center or a business game changer?"   This infographic illustrates the behaviors of companies who support new business opportunities. To see all six, see "The 6 behaviors of companies out-innovating you."

Tom Soderstrom is Chief Technology Officer and Innovation Officer in the Office of the CIO at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Los Angeles, CA and a member of the Enterprisers Editorial Board. JPL is the lead U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system and conducts major programs in space-based Earth sciences. JPL currently has several dozen aircraft and instruments conducting active missions in and outside of our solar system.

Tom serves as the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, in the Office of the CIO at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where his mission is to identify and infuse new IT technologies into JPL's environment.

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