The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
Chief Information Officer
Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
How does your vision of IT support your company’s mission?
Our company's mission statement is to help our clients accomplish more of their business goals. For the last couple of years Dinsmore has been on a growth trajectory. In 2008 we grew almost 40% in 90 days. We brought in two different firms from two different cities. I mean, we were running. I don’t want this to sound lame, but I believe my group achieves the firm’s mission every day. Accomplish more on a regular basis. I have not had an increase in staff in probably seven years, which is what we need to focus on. We need to do more with more as the operational side begins to build up. Not just from a tactical perspective since growth creates a short term need. We are no longer just four offices. I look at the growth path of the firm; they want to be a national law firm. We owe it to the business and our clients to have an IT group that can successfully support a national law firm.
That’s what it’s been about. We want to make sure we are doing it in a staged fashion from a growth perspective first. A knee-jerk reaction is to say we need X more workers when we grow. We’ve been able to absorb a lot, but from a long-term perspective that is not what you want to see in an IT group. You want to see people with very specific roles and responsibilities. There is a season to accomplish more with more, but generally we want to accomplish more, smarter.
How do you move away from simply a transactional relationship with your business partners?
I think that you can never get away from the transactional. I think that often times when I get multiples of the same types of requests, that usually tells me that there is something else going on. There may be something else that we need to change. Our users and their clients have a very high expectation of availability. Fundamentally we all have that same goal. While it’s great to have the one-off types of requests, I think they all understand that we have a long-term strategic plan here. We will give you as much as we can for what you need. But it has to be scalable. Attorneys love the word “precedence.” Once you start something it’s hard to stop. Sometimes we have to make sure that the requests we accommodate are the ones that we can do not once, but will also want to do another 500 times.
How do you correlate business risk back to IT?
The example I think of is on the security side of the house. That is probably where we are really seeing the people and the technology intersect. Now it’s no longer just an IT problem. I can build my fortress as strong and tall as I can, but it’s also up to the end user to understand that IT cannot prevent everything from happening. We can educate, mitigate and remediate. At the end of the day we really have to have more awareness that the responsibility is on everyone.
The business side of the firm sees there is a value in what we are doing in the security space. It’s at the forefront. As this is an evolving area, we have been beefing up that particular area for us. That is where changes are coming for us as we look at restructuring internally. Some members of my team have been here for some time and we are developing them into more formal security roles within the firm as well as bringing in top talent in others areas.