ZIFFPAGE TITLETechnical Politics

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-05-23 Print this article Print

What's the trend this year among big-ticket deployments? Enhancements to existing systems.

Technical Politics

According to our survey, the chief information officer—by a nose—most often has the last word on spending: 22.4% of respondents said the CIO makes the final decision for their company's most critical technology initiative, compared with 21.4% who said that was the chief executive's call.

Still, CIOs and other information-technology leaders have to make their case to get their budgets approved, and that alone may feel like a full-time job.

Consider the typical week of John Hummel, CIO of Sutter Health. He's in charge of information-technology strategy and operations for the not-for-profit health-care system based in Sacramento, Calif., which has budgeted roughly $120 million for I.T.-related capital expenditures this year.

In a given week, Hummel says, he's on the road four days out of five, visiting one of Sutter's 25 hospitals or other facilities and justifying the amount of money his group plans to spend to executives and board members who approve the budget. "I get to be the drum-beater," Hummel says. "You have to constantly show the board of directors how important these projects are to the success of the organization."

Securing approval for an individual project is, of course, easier when a high-ranking executive gets on board.

Jim Cupps, information security officer at Sappi Fine Paper North America, wanted to install intrusion-prevention software on 50 process-control servers, which regulate the paper-production machines at plants in Maine, Michigan and Minnesota. The software looks for and blocks unauthorized commands sent to the system's central control module—a last line of defense against any malicious bot or hacker that evades Sappi's antivirus and firewall software.

Cupps got the green light in November 2004, very soon after presenting the project proposal to Sappi's manufacturing group. How? The unit's managers wanted to be as certain as could be that a network-borne worm wouldn't shut down its paper plants. "It wasn't just my CIO who was behind it," he says. "It was the guy in charge of our manufacturing operations."


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