CIO and report roles changing, of course

This article had a fantastic sentence about IT roles.     

“They need greater political skills to deal with senior-level executives who may feel threatened by global business processes.”

I could not agree more.  The CIO and his IT group will be matrixes deep into the organization as IoT, analytics, cloud services along with new mobility optimize legacy processes and create brand new services.

This will create threats.  Optimizing a process by removing inefficiencies may also eliminate control points that line of business executives and managers are not happy to give up or the downsizing of their staff that might be no longer needed.

I recall a manager who over a period of 3 years lost 20 people in their 80 person department in 3 office locations.  When I was hired in the 3rd year, the finance person was explaining to me how my budget got hit for the amount of space my division used in all the buildings globally.    Asking for a breakdown by department for the past 3 years, I noticed that this same department’s salary and other expenses reduced significantly each year, but not their overhead expense or the stated office space utilized.

In speaking to the manager he explained that he had been there for 20 years and they would reduce staff and then 3 – 4 years later add them back in.  If you gave up the space, it would take another 3 – 4 years to get the additional space, so you held on to it. Use it as a storage area, move a contractor over to the desk, stop sharing for different shifts – anything to keep the space.

Oh did I open up can of angry cobras (worms are just wiggly, not mean).  Finance went through each area and found globally almost all departments guilty of the same.

I am sure that still happens today and what IT evolves into will only run up against this more and more.

IT is already a matrix.  Per a prior blog, each line of business area has that tech savvy person or persons.  Marketing has those web and/or analytics hot shots.  Finance has their excel guru’s who became analytics gurus.  Operations application gurus and everyone is becoming cloud based services gurus.

You have to work across all of them.  But, that is merely about application upgrades, new services or changes to the same.  They still see that as changing what IT does.

Now IoT, analytics, cloud and mobile technology can impact the business operations by changing them radically.  Thing Uber and taxis along with retail stores vs Amazon mobile app.  What will happen with self driving cars.

The issue is that protective nature over the status quo.  First you will hear IoT is unproven, analytics is too hard and cloud does not save you money.

 

Hmph.

This is where Harry Truman make some sense.   

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.  

Align your proposal with their specific concerns (illogical as they may be).

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Make it their idea, give up ALL the credit when it is seeking approval for this GREAT business strategy idea and most of it when you are successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How you should create an IT Strategy

As anyone who started his or her own business, like I did, or have been in a senior leadership position with a business, yep I have that too to draw upon.

experience

You were likely asked to add to or develop a strategic plan.

Might have been 3, 5 or even 10 years.  Longer if you are in city planning or such.  There are plenty of templates along with courses on how to develop a strategic plan.  Thousands of consultants, myself included who would love to be hired to help you with that effort.

From the technology side you tie the strategy (new technology, upgrades, replacements, yada yada) with a technology roadmap.  Think of it like major house renovation.  Parts of the house will stay, but most of it will be replaced. house

 

In this case servers, switches, storage and so forth.

 

 

stopWell, you should stop doing that – now!

 

 

 

Instead, focus on capabilities.  capabilities  A capabilities strategy will not only improve alignment with business, but ensure you are working with the right partners.

If your organization says they want to know more about their customers. What capabilities are need to learn more about your customers?

Improve flexibility of getting to existing internal data, plus adding multiple external data sources from purchased structured data to unstructured social and other data sources.

Stop – don’t start listing the types of databases, servers and application integration points you will need.  That is later, like knowing what size refrigerator or TV screen you want for the house.  What you need to know is how you like to entertain.

Capabilities again.  Integration, analytics (cognitive and predictive), data cleansing, visualization and so forth to create the capability to deliver the business value will be needed with in house or consulting services.

Yes, there will be a point where you have to start talking about databases and infrastructure, but by focusing on capabilities you can start with learning your customer’s habits from the internal buying habits for insights as a start to capabilities.  The second part of the roadmap will add another data source and then another, integrating into CRM and Order Management application processes.

This works as I said not only to the benefit of ensuring the technology strategy is exactly aligned with the business strategy, but provides you the language you want to hear from your partner consultants either directly or from their customer references.

executives   It also gives you the language to explain the strategy to your fellow executives.

It works equally with growth and profit focused strategies.

Aaargh – stop selling me technology

That constant barrage of sales calls, emails and even that occasional snail mail or Fedex package all wanting to talk about a growing set of technologies.  Whether it be the latest software package, servers, flash, converged, cognitive analytics and on and on and on.

finance-tech

Consider the above a list of just most of the accounting technologies out there.  Multiple this by 1,000 fold for all vendors who want you as a customer.  multiple

Now multiple that by the number of companies who are focused on calling directly into your accounting, operations, marketing and other department selling them services.

How do deal with this onslaught of activity is truly incomparable to any other function in the business.  business-function           Here is a process that helps me.

No, not the one where I never ever answer my work phone.

Categorize all activities, projects and strategies around simplify, business process optimize, customer satisfaction and compliance.

  • Simplify – removing complexity from your technology delivery whether it be infrastructure, applications, access… simplify
  • Business process optimizing – focusing on profit.  Removing costs aka waste from business processes optimize
  • Customer satisfaction – my way of saying generate revenue – new net or more per customercustomer_satisfaction-650x300

 

 

 

 

  • Compliance – the one you never have a choice to do or not to do and while you wish it was otherwise always becomes the top priority whether it be PCI, HIPPA, Sarbanes or othercompliance

Not just the IT projects, but I gather input from the finance, marketing and other functions and put them in the above categories.

Finance is easy – almost all Compliance or Business Optimization.  They they are attracted to Simplify.

Marketing yes Customer Satisfaction is their sweet spot, but again Simplify can work especially if it decreases time to delivery new services to Marketing.

Over all this pushes the complexity of cloud/public/private/hybrid, analytics, mobility, security, converged, hyperconverged, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and so on off the table and focuses your attention, the functional areas and evidentially your key suppliers on talking about business outcomes.

open-for-business

 

 

Oh boy, oh boy, it finally is announced!

The latest Gartner CIO survey is out.

Untitled1

Vendors will go wild with selling stories around the results. 

CIO’s will point to it internally to drive their desired initiatives.

And the business will…

They will…

um, they will

yawn.

Perhaps roll their eyes (in tribute to my L1).    Untitled2

Maybe even go, ‘really, hmmm’.

But that will be about it.  Why?

Untitled3Well a CFO will look at the list and think about the cost,

difficulty in creating a ROI and worse

the low prognosis of achieving said ROI,

ever.

A Sales VP will say when can you have that done and you are not using any of my budget.

Pretty much the same for a VP of Marketing; though they may also offer up they already have solutions for #1, 2 and 7.

Analytics and business intelligence

Mobile technologies

CRM

To which, the IT executive will to their best to not look surprised by this revelation.  

.

.

The VP of Operations will be with the Sales VP, though more supportive and really wanting #1 and #10 to help them drive out costs that have been a tough nut to crack.

Analytics and business intelligence

ERP

The HR and Administrative leaders will simply wonder when they are going to get the IT solutions they have been asking for, well for years.

.

.

That leaves the CEO/COO/President, you know the Jack Donaghy.   Untitled4

Depending on their relationship with the IT leader, it ranges from dismissive, to intrigued to truly wondering if any of this is needed to deliver on the strategy.

The last is what I will dive into the next entry.   Always leaving them wanting more – all 3 of you.

Thanks by way.

Microsoft Enterprise Agreements, not fun

Here I am with a need to select a web platform, a possible new ERP, a long term strategic IT plan to develop and oh yeah, that bloody Microsoft EA expiring this December.  While part of the IT strategy will be what will be the future desktop, server, mail, and collaboration platforms which the EA could be a part of the cost efficiency that the strategy can deliver.  But, EA complexity has given birth to a consulting industry.  Managing the EA is not effective.

MS as listed here goes on and on about ‘More choices, more value’.  Really, I doubt it.  As for simplifying my license management get out of here.  For us mid-size companies we are pinched by not being big enough to get the value of 1,000 plus licensing, but too big to just ignore the EA.

Open Value

Open Value Subscription

Select Plus

Enterprise Agreement

Which one to choose, which one to choose?  Are you going to grow over the next few years?  Will you be committing to MS solutions primarily during the same time span?  Will you upgrade to 2010 and Windows 7?  What is the value of those two upgrades – know one knows for sure?Microsoft monopoly

The questions go on and on and the variables are — well too damn many. 

 You have the stories about the ‘looming Windows 7 disaster’  from IBM and the similar looming story from Infoworld.  So what are my choices?  Stay with MS and spend weeks trying to ensure you make the right decision.  Than worse than that time spent, you have to explain it to your Finance group so they understand it. 

Or as this blog entry about moving away from MS by Nari Kannan is it time to plan that move away from the MS operating system.  Gartner talks about

‘Windows is Broken’ and I have been wondering for a few years about whether the reason for Windows is maintaining the majority  it enjoys simply because of a combination of complacency by both IT and business along

with a fear of failing with something new. 

Is it time to take a long, long look at moving to a Linux based OS with using Open Office?  There is that mail problem that is not quite fully solved by the available clients.  Ah, but that is for another blog entry.  What about just giving up on the homogeneous desktop and server platform and accept that you will need to take on the additional support staffing to offset the lower cost of OS and open source applications.  And than there is Google Chrome. MS vs Google

 Again, more on this in a future entry.

The focus here is the ineffective licensing process that Microsoft has put in place. What other vendor do you work with that you continue to stay with that makes your IT group less effective.  The only good thing is it is every few years versus every year.  We won’t go into the non-effective activities every Tuesday getting the latest patches from MS.  Because to be fair, if Linux or Apple had MS’s install base, the bored hacking community would be focused on them instead. 

From my perspective, if I give MS another 6 figure check for my next EA agreement.  I am buying the right to decide 12 to 18 months from now whether I want to upgrade to Windows 7 and other products.  Somehow the MS EA seems anti-nimble.  The solution is simple, but time consuming.  Do the homework to do a full evaluation of leaving MS.  That is just as Gartner puts it, the only way to get MS to start acting in the best interest of their customers, not just their shareholders.

MS tools parody 2

What is the critical information technology at your company?

If you gathered all your managers in a room, all accept the IT people. Gather all your non-IT managers, directors, VP’s and C-level executives and ask what is the critical information technology at your company. What answer would you get or expect to get.

Is the most critical information technology your ERP system?

A module of your ERP system? Finance? CRM? Product Demand Planning?

Even more specific, a single business process in your ERP? A/R? Order Management? Inventory Management?

Or is it your project management solution?

Your business intelligence solution?

Or your content management solution?

I offer that while the answer from management would be a mix of the above, your staff would demonstrate that none of the above are critical to their daily functions.

The three that most staff positions are affected immediately by when there is a service outage is email, Internet access and MS Office. If your IT function has a help desk software that tracks incidents and number of user calls per incident, compare the number of user calls when the ERP system goes down, to the number of calls when email or the Internet service goes down. Look at MS Office support activity and compare the time between users noticing it is not working and calling the Help Desk versus when ERP is not working. This may not be a metric your Help Desk tracks, but it would be very revealing once you gathered the data.

What does this mean to your business. First, when the ERP system is down your employees find other activities to do, but are they contributing to the top or bottom line growth? No, they are not. It is busy work that is wasteful as it is not focusing the end user critical business processes or IT on prioritizing operation performance and reliability on the right information technology.

The squeaky wheel, the loud, thunderous roar of end users squeaky wheel is when email, the Internet and MS Office are unavailable or just slow. Therefore, ERP, BI, CRM and the rest of the high priced, high return information technology platforms are allowed to have reduced reliability, performance and slow general maintenance, such as upgrades. IT upgrades email constantly in the hopes that the new version will be more reliable and lower support calls and increase end user satisfaction. The same for the Internet pipeline, they expand it and expand it, buying new routers and firewalls that have higher speed capacity. With MS Office you upgrade twice as often as your ERP, due to end users complaints that they cannot open files from newer versions from customers and suppliers.

The costs of this mis-directed prioritization is the lack of leveraging available ERP upgrades, that your business has paid thousands of dollars in maintenance contract payments for those upgrades.

Printers get more attention than your information technology that directly supports your critical business processes that drive your customer retention, new product launches and track revenue growth areas and most profitable products and customers.

What is this costing your business? Even with a strategically minded CIO, the IT support staff will be pulled by the demands of the end users, which will reflect in application, server and network administration focus and planning.

What should business people be doing?

Measure IT focus. Help desk and operation activities that focus on critical information technology in terms of time spent, budget and project allocations and training dollars spent each year.

Ask the question what is the IT response when ERP goes down? How long to recover and how many end user calls are recorded?

Compare this to to the IT response when email or the Internet service goes down.

If the answers do not satisfy you, setup metrics on IT incidents and recovery from incidents, focusing on your critical information technology. Setup metrics on not just allocation of budget to your critical information technology, but on actual project time allocated to improving those critical technologies versus other non-critical business technologies.

It may take a senior management decree that if email, the Internet service or your MS Office goes down that the company will live with a longer down time to allow prioritization of IT budget, staff, training and projects in support of critical information technology that in turn directly supports the corporate goals.