It's time for spring cleaning in the IT closet

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Successful CIOs seek to hide complexity by creating easy-to-use systems and interfaces. There's a lot to hide. Acquisitions and mergers bring additional systems and processes. New technologies must mesh with existing ones. Business partnerships must be embraced. New products and services must be supported.

Not all complexity is bad, though. For example, companies are moving away from relatively simple, contractual relationships with external business partners and toward more complex relationships that are full of collaboration, knowledge-sharing and innovation, said Arun Rai, a professor at Georgia State University, at a recent meeting of the Society for Information Management's Advanced Practices Council.

But beyond a certain point, more complexity reduces profits, even when revenues increase, says Michael Wade, a professor at IMD business school in Switzerland.

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