The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
VP of Infrastructure and Business Apps
First Financial Bank
How does your vision of IT support your company’s mission?
First Financial Bank’s employees share a common vision across the company and that is, “We will exceed our clients’ expectations and satisfy their financial needs by building long-term relationships using a client-centered, value-added approach.” From an IT perspective, our clients are not only our external customers, but each line of business that relies on the Information Technology department to provide a solid infrastructure in which the bank can operate and grow as needed by consumer demands. We could build and maintain the best infrastructure, but if we only did that and didn’t foster a relationship with our business and clients we wouldn’t have the insight of what was expected as technical trusted advisors to the business. Recently, one of our executives wrote, “A bank’s success is predicated on the ability to deliver products and services how, when and where the client desires.” We strive as an IT organization to help the bank accomplish that.
How do you see your role with other leaders in your company?
Our role has evolved greatly in the past several years. If I had to pick a role, I would say “advisor.” From projects, strategic initiatives and roadmap planning to a simple implementation for five users, we want to be involved at the very beginning of the process and sometimes it’s easier said than done. Workplaces in our industry are fast-paced environments and with on-premise software and cloud solutions so easily accessible by anyone at any time, it takes defined processes and relationships to become that “trusted” advisor rather than just an implementer or doer. I’m very proud of our organization and the relationships we have in place to allow us to fulfill that role.
How do you direct these relationships away from being simply transactional?
A few years ago, we started an initiative that reached out to First Financial Bank business leaders in an effort to better understand their organizational activities and objectives. We proposed a more formal and regular process of information sharing that would help both parties effectively manage technology, projects, change and other organizational challenges. The output of this effort would be a stronger relationship between the company’s technology group and the business partners charged with executing the company’s strategic plan. We called it simply the Business Partner Engagement Program. In summary, it was our way of showing IT’s commitment to building a relationship with our business partners. By embracing this model, I feel we are quickly moving away from “we need, you give” and turning transactional into relational.
Sometime business and technology are incompatible. How do you bridge that gap?
In all honesty, business and technology are incompatible quite a bit, and there are numerous factors that could cause the gap; limited budget, exposure/risk, compliance, resources, infrastructure and others. The best way to bridge the gap is to clearly identify the business need and work as a partnership to outline needs vs. wants, and consider the build-buy-leverage process prior to searching for a technology.