Convergence and the CIO: Blame It on the Messenger?

Senior management teams everywhere are buttoning up their profit plans right now and asking every division head to confirm or moderate expectations for the cost reductions they recommend.

The same request applies especially to IT departments, which have come under intense scrutiny during the past few years as senior management demands more performance out of its long-accumulated investments in IT systems.

The impact of this management dictate is reflected in the subdued share prices of Microsoft, Intel, IBM and other IT bellwethers, which are not the growth companies they once were. And the individual charged to deliver this cost-efficient IT performance? The chief information officer (CIO).

More Burden Shouldered by CIOs
Until recently, the CIO had only to worry about traditional information systems, while making recommendations “upstairs” for strategy and cost improvements. But the analog to digital conversion has presented the CIO with another performance challenge in the person of a security executive whose network can be integrated with IT.

In the case of privately held corporations, this task can be daunting due to the pressure on operating costs. In public corporations, however, the pressure is even more intense since the organization must also comply with state and federal policies, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), which mandates a lot of oversight and reporting.

In doing his or her pre-physical security job, the CIO regularly interfaces with senior management, IT staffers and division managers, all of whom were asked in a recent survey what they thought of their CIO.

The findings are revealing and paint a picture of what a physical security integrator faces when making a presentation to an IT group for a security network running over the IT system. These points of view were obtained from CIOs who rated themselves and from senior management, IT staff and division managers.

As illustrated in the comparative survey results, it is clear that the CIO spends substantial time with senior management, judging by their overall agreement with the CIOs’ own conclusions. Conversely, the CIOs’ IT staff has a different viewpoint. And the division managers serviced by the IT department tend to agree with the IT staff.

The sample size of this survey is more than 500 participants. We have to say that this is not an anomaly of a particular group of companies with a few malcontents, but a national picture of the attitudes of the different disciplines that work with the CIO. After all, it falls on the shoulders of the CIO to placate IT and line managers, as well as senior executives before even considering taking on the physical security executive who has to converge his or her network to reduce operating costs.

Security convergence is on everyone’s mind. The point of this analysis is to depict the degree of the challenge now faced by CIOs, as well as integrators as they jointly tackle the issue of physical security networks.

For the complete version of this story, see the January issue of Security Sales & Integration magazine.

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