September 11, 2008, 7:26 PM — I know every CIO has a different name for it, but as we're hitting full stride in IT budget season I find myself referring to my "Now/Next/Never" List. This is the list of items that I've worked with for the past year (and revisited quarterly) to rank the areas of focus in IT. While the list includes specific technologies as well as business axioms, it is fundamentally a useful tool for avoiding the danger of becoming too tactical in my job.
The "Now" items are new technologies that have been on my radar, but are now hitting their stride and have a direct application with measurable value in an enterprise environment. Some of them had been on my "Next" category for a while, and have simply matured.
Watching some of those "Next" technologies evolve (or not) are effectively living b-school case studies; product evolution, market rollups, management team coups, etc.
For those items that have stayed on my list too long without progress or a clear path of how an enterprise could use them, they get one last year as a "Never" item. A very small set of these get the unique label of "Zombie" items - they were declared dead one or more times but they kept coming back in various forms.
If you are like me, you pull your Now/Next/Never list out when SIM or Gartner publish their "CIO Top Concerns" list to see how you're doing against the rest of the herd. I've never had a perfect match, but I can see enough to evaluate/rate my own list and tune, as necessary. Every now and then, something will appear on their list that I just didn't see coming. It makes me do a little research and self-appraisal.
When a technology shows up in a mainstream periodical or industry magazine, I have to prepare a statement (whether I think the technology has any legs or not)... because invariably the CFO, CEO, or Board Member will ask why we aren't using it. To date, nearly every one of those topics were already on my list as Next of Never.
Beyond its value as a CIO tool, I find it even more fascinating as a stark reminder of the volatility of business and IT.
How about your List? Do you have any "Now" items that are unique to your industry/vertical? What do you think is the biggest "Next" item for IT? What do you have on your list that you think is heading to the "Never" category? Any old Zombies that you think might actually come back onto your list? Feel free to post your thoughts as a Comment.