Three questions for Charles Feld

We ask industry luminaries to predict the big IT stories and surprises of 2007

Charles Feld is executive vice president of portfolio development at Electronic Data Systems, where he's responsible for the company's service offerings. From 1983 to 1992, Feld was the vice president of MIS at Frito-Lay, where he orchestrated the adoption of handhelds by 10,000 salespeople, a move that streamlined inventory management while freeing up salespeople to focus on selling. Feld has also done stints as a temporary CIO at Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Delta Air Lines and First Data. In 1992, Feld launched The Feld Group, a CIO consultancy that was acquired by EDS in January 2004. He spoke recently with Computerworld's Thomas Hoffman.

Which IT story took you by surprise in 2006, and why?

The thing that surprised me was the rapid change in the way people are rushing to modernize their businesses. I was thinking this would occur in '07 or '08, but it began in '05 and '06.

What surprises are in store for IT users in 2007?

The biggest issue for them is going to be the flip side of what we just talked about. Very few organizations are in a position of implementing business modernization in the time frame that customers want it. People have had their foot on the brakes for so long, and it's not going to happen in one budget cycle or one calendar year to transform this. It's going to take companies years to get their businesses modernized, to move work around [regionally] and extend their supply chains. Most IT organizations are going to get caught in not having that loving feeling again because they won't be able to respond quick enough [to business demands].

What will be the biggest IT story of the new year?

The thing that we've been fighting for the 40 years I've been in the business. There's been a huge gap between business owners and IT in terms of knowledge, passion, etc. That gap is narrowly closing in companies where CIOs and the rest of the CXOs really come together in a shared vision of what needs to happen. It's going to happen in more than one in 10 companies; it's starting to happen now. I'm very optimistic that more and more stories will be told about how they're fused together to create a 21st century company.

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