The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
Regional executive officer, Vice President of Information Systems for Americas and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)
How does IT support the vision of the business?
We are part of Kao Corporation, a $14 billion consumer products company, headquartered in Japan.
We manage the IT function for the Beauty Care Business in the Americas and EMEA regions, serving more than 3,500 users. The guiding principles for Kao are called the Kao Way. The Kao Way states that “Our mission is to strive for the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people globally and to contribute to the sustainability of the world, with products and brands of excellent value that are created from the consumer’s and customer’s perspective.” IS lives closely to Kao Way principles, especially Genba-ism, which “defines the importance of observing things ‘on-site,’ in the actual location and environment, both internally and externally, in order to maximize our understanding of the business and optimize our performance.” That is one component of the Kao mission that we really buy into and model within IS. The Information Systems group has a very robust mission and vision statement that ties to the Kao Way, including global business standardization, optimizing processes and providing information and analytics to enable the business to make good decisions. In this way, IS supports these so the Kao Way can be accomplished.
How does IT move from transactional relationship to more of a partnership with business executives?
We have always partnered very closely with the business. There are a few tenets that we always work under. In any work that we do to provide a solution for the business, we work closely with our business contacts at all levels. On the business process side, we orient all of our support functions by process areas, such as order to cash, forecast to finish goods, finance, human capital development, etc. We ask our resources to become knowledgeable about the business processes, best practices and current market-leading solutions in those areas. We try to be very knowledgeable and collaborate with the business when they say we have this requirement or need, and then we are able to provide perspective. We also encourage our IS team members to engage with the business to influence them to move in a direction of optimization; not waiting for them to come talk to us, but proactively engaging them. Through the collaborative dialog about best practices we can influence what is implemented for the business in a positive way.
How does IT affect change to mitigate business risk?
We have a group that we call the Productivity Management team. One of the disciplines this group owns is change management. From my point of view, there are four key disciplines for change management: 1) training, 2) communication, 3) executive sponsorship, and 4) monitoring role changes.
We go through a process of evaluating the change management requirements for every initiative, from infrastructure projects to new robust systems. Then, for every project that we execute as an IS group we incorporate change management. I have insisted on this from day one of my 16 years here. It is a part of our DNA now. The change management process is a key aspect of how we mitigate risk and ensure we get people through the change process successfully. It is a robust process, but it is really something we must focus on to not only reduce risk, but to also optimize outcomes for the business.