Companies have been getting a lot more serious about investing resources in innovation as CEOs push to generate new revenue streams in a sluggish economy. As they do, a growing number of companies such as Harley-Davidson, Motorola and Xerox have set up cross-functional innovation teams to brainstorm on breakthrough ideas to support different areas within the organization. More on that later.
First, how important is it to have a single senior business executive to spearhead innovation within the organization? To that end, which executive should it be? The CIO? CMO? COO? The answer to this depends on a few factors, including the industry the company is in, the culture of the organization and the person who's best suited for that role.
There's an article in the Dec. 2010 Harvard Business Review which explores the following issue in its title: What's the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs? The article examines approaches that companies such as Johnson & Johnson have taken to lower their health care costs through a structured approach to help workers make improvements to their social, mental and physical health.
For its part, J&J executives estimate that its wellness programs have saved the company $250 million in health care costs over the past decade. From 2002 through 2008, the return on its wellness efforts was $2.71 for every dollar spent.
One of the things that I find fascinating about the role of the CIO is the divergence of opinions that abound regarding the CIO's standing within the enterprise. Two articles I read the other day highlight some of these distinctions.
One article, which is really more of an advertorial regarding Gartner's annual CIO survey results, calls attention to research which illustrates how more than half of all CIOs have picked up responsibilities that extend beyond their traditional IT management duties. These range from overseeing innovation to corporate development and strategic planning and other operational roles. These developments are hardly new: Gartner reported similar findings in its 2008 CIO study.
It's a question that's been the subject of intense debate within many companies - who is (or should be) responsible for an organization's social networking efforts? There are a few schools of thought on this.
When organizations first began launching Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts a couple of years ago, a widely-held belief at the time was that oversight of a company's social media efforts should be handled by one of the communications functions such as marketing or public relations.
Earlier this month, Computerworld published a story about a new user group called the Open Data Center Alliance. The story describes how the group's 70 members comprise enterprise organizations from a wide range of industries, including BMW, Marriott International, UBS and Shell.
The group is focused on using their influence to try to thwart vendor lock-in in the cloud and to improve interoperability.
In a Q&A in the current edition of PricewaterhouseCoopers's quarterly Technology Forecast, EMC Corp. CIO Sanjay Mirchandani shares his views on how the cloud is accelerating the repositioning of IT to support business development and innovation. Cloud computing, the self-described "career businessperson" tells PwC, is enabling IT to be more responsive to the business. At EMC, members of the IT team are responsible for running core integration projects, "and they're seen as subject matter experts."