The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
Chief Information Officer
How do you see your role with other business role leaders in your company?
Recently we have gone through some management changes so it’s caused some introspection about the IT mission and vision and how it relates to the broader organization. The thing I kept coming back to is the “trusted advisor.” That’s the role I see us playing from an IT standpoint to the broader company. Both at a company level and an employee level – macro and micro. I want to be the advisor to help the individual employee to know what technologies are available for them to do their job well, to exploit all technology has to offer. But also from a broader context of the overall organization, define the standards and processes we implement that help do that as well.
That idea of being the advisor is the core of it. Back in the early days of computing, you think of the data centers with the raised floors, DECwriters, reel-to-reel tape drives and guys in white coats. An antiseptic environment. Lowly users would approach on bended knee, begging the oracle to bestow on them an application that would make their life easier. Today, you go to the app stores and see there are 1.2 million apps with Apple and 1.4 million in Google Play.
The universe of apps out there is well more than any department ¬-- and certainly my department -- can be experts on. So the trusted advisor is a phrase that resonates because we have moved from that model of IT - knowing it all and going to them to solve their problem. Now we are collaborating with people that are coming to me saying, “We want to solve this problem and I have this app and/or idea. Is there a way we can use it?” Like a broker, I can match up their particular need with the right kind of resources, whether the resource is internal or external, to satisfy that need. I like working with them to figure out how we can bring that in and not feel like I have to be the person that vets all that or finds it all in the first place.
How do you move away from a transactional relationship to one that is more collaborative with your business partners?
At our size organization we just don’t have the luxury of a lot of staff interacting on a project basis with the business. My team does interact constantly with the business, but in kind of a tactical support, transactional way. For example, ”fill-in-the-blank is not working as it should,” so my team takes action on that. Or, “My PC is not working as it should,” so they will respond to that. I need to make sure my team has the education and tools to solve those problems. That is not the project level, but the transactional.
The project level falls to me. We are reaching the point that we need people to consult on a project basis. As an interim, we are bringing in tier one outside providers. If we want to do a project around collaboration with the sales force, we will go to the market and find subject matter experts for that. We brief them on what our infrastructure looks like so they know the background to plug into. They work with the business to further understand those needs and go off and do that project. It’s faster than us trying to come up to speed with all the different things out there. I can be the jack of all trades to the normal things of our business, but there are issues that will come up that need these subject matter experts.