The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds

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Ralph Watkins

Pure Romance

How do you correlate business risk back to IT? 

That’s been one of the challenges for us as we grow our team. The past few years we have been working to become better business partners and trusted advisors. Working closer with the business leaders and consultants ensures we understand the actual business needs. As we shift from order takers to stronger business partners, we inherently start understanding the risks. If we truly understand the needs, we are able to deliver solutions that make an impact. If we are not successful becoming better business partners we can end up just getting in the way of progress, in turn slowing growth. If we get it wrong, our consultants struggle to be successful. If they aren’t successful, our organization is not successful. 

How do you direct the relationship between IT and your consultants away from being simply transactional? 

That is often difficult for tech folks. It requires an intimate understanding about the actual needs of the consultants. It’s mostly creating continuous conversation … having a process that includes the consultants throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. Whether we are building something internally or offering an off-the-shelf solution. Creating these types of processes ensure the team, as well as the consultant, feels a sense of ownership and is invested in the success of each project. It builds a better sense of trust that we have their best interest in mind as we are releasing new technology, more of a partnership. This isn’t always easy, but it is something we work towards every day. 

What happens when this relationship breaks down? 

RW: It completely falls apart. This is why I say we need to become better business partners. We can create the best tool or best piece of technology and give it to our consultants, but if it does not meet their needs then they won’t use it. These women are business owners. Some of them are very experienced, and as business owners they will find the solutions that meet their needs if we don’t offer them. In the past we have given them the tools that we think they need and not gotten their feedback throughout the development process. (These are) some of the changes we are making now, including them in the process. 

We have a group of women we are calling the Tech Council. We want their participation throughout the entire process and not waiting until the release and say, “Here you go, here are your tools, hope it works.” 

What is the biggest challenge? 

Our biggest challenge is keeping up with the pace of our business. Like I said earlier, we have been on a rapid growth trajectory for many years. As fast as we can deploy technology, there are more opportunities coming in. Even though we have grown our team significantly we struggle to keep up. As much bandwidth we add to the team, the business can consume it. We have a large consultant base with a large range of experiences. They continually challenge us to bring new ideas. It’s a challenge to prioritize what we actually tackle. The business is moving so fast, there are so many things on the plate. It makes it hard to see the future because you are so busy trying to keep up. I have this conversation with our CEO all the time. We just need to slow him down a bit so we have time to put these ideas into fruition. So I would definitely say our biggest challenge is being able to get in front of the business.


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The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds

26 of 27

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