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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CIO – Field of Dreams

There is a not so fun debate going on amongst senior technology people whether it be

Economist

ZDnet

or other experts (let’s not debate the definition of expert here) are how long does IT have to exist in most businesses.  Is it 5 years,

10 years,        dinosaur_extinction_insurance

15 – who knows.

So, this debate where many of my colleagues could potentially be seeking new careers if the predictions come true.  That is the not so fun part.  As one who decided to transition out of IT leadership to get refresh of my perspective and education these articles, studies and pundits started me thinking.

tumblr_m94z6p40Jz1rujblh

If I find that really cool CIO/VP of IT role and in a perfect world could have total say on how technology would work in a company, no constraints (time, money, politics) how would I design an IT team, strategy and changes to the overall company structure and strategy.  As this is a blog and not a book, I am not going to dig deep, but a few things came mind.

Some quick hits.

1. no data center – yep, I don’t have a power generator out back (well a back up maybe) so let’s get past the need for a DC.  Yes, there are concerns about protecting your data.  So, let me ask this question – your business as cash flow right, ready cash?  Do you keep that in a room in your building somewhere?

What? No?   images (1)

So you trust, say this again TRUST, an organization hold your cash for you and heck they even hold other peoples cash for them and they only distinguish your cash from the other people with a record that you have a department, aka Finance, that reconciles each month to make sure it is accurately held for you.

So data cannot be the same way.  Hmmm.

2. Experimentation with new technology and processes will be extremely high to provide us the opportunity to create competitive leverage and differentiation.   Roll the dice all the time.download

That means use the information part of IT, aka data, in unproven/proven ways to deliver to our clients – the lines of business as well as ourselves.  Yes, creating business user friendly data access from all your data sources with the goal of improving the capability of line of business clients in using the data regardless of tool they use to do so.

Even, yes even Excel, though Excel truly is a crutch to businesses everywhere.   download (1)

3. Last quick hit is like lean manufacturing, six sigma, or whatever continuous improvement program you like or is the diet fad of the year a relentless focus on process improvement.

Relentless focus.

I often use the analogy that if you go out to your car in the morning to go to work and see one of your tires is low on air.  low-tire-pressureYou might drive to a gas station, fill it up with air and go to work.  When you get out of work the tire still has air so you drive home.  The next morning you notice the same tire is low on air again.  Would you drive to the same gas station and fill it up with air again and the next day and the next without every fixing it.  NO.

So, why do we let by my estimate half of all business processes have low air in them and let our employees work harder than they have to with bandaids download (3) (putting air in the tire each day) to just get their work done?

You have hundreds of processes which are low on air in your business.  I would make it IT’s mission to have all processes measured for efficiency and effectiveness on corporate strategy and customer impact.  Only the lowest ones would ever be considered to let be inefficient, but never ineffective.

There are other things, but those would be my top three to tackle.  The first being the data center, because that would free up my staff and budget to be more aggressive on the other two.

Business functions separated by a common language.

Two nations divided by a common language“, this quote normally attributed to Oscar Wilde is about Britain and the USA.  Brit and the USSince my daughter has become engaged to a Brit, this is a frequent occurrence in my family.

 

 

 

So when I was reading the latest Gartner CIO survey results and read the below chart –

Top 10 Business Priorities

Rank

Top 10 IT Priorities

Rank

Increasing enterprise growth
1
Analytics and business intelligence
1
Delivering operational results
2
Mobile technologies
2
Reducing enterprise costs
3
Cloud computing (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS)
3
Attracting and retaining new customers
4
Collaboration technologies (workflow)
4
Improving IT applications and infrastructure
5
Legacy modernization
5
Creating new products and services (innovation)
6
IT management
6
Improving efficiency
7
CRM
7
Attracting and retaining the workforce
8
Virtualization
8
Implementing analytics and big data
9
Security
9
Expanding into new markets and geographies
10
ERP Applications
10

My first thoughts were to the quote above.  When the line of business, be it finance, marketing or another department talks to IT or vice versa you can see from the chart above that they are speaking English, but not the same language.

On the left business is saying what they want to DO and on the right IT is saying what they should BUY and IMPLEMENT.

The issue is who is ensuring that the right side from IT will DO what business wants on the left side.

That is an important exercise that both line of business and IT must do is not just at budget time, but throughout the year.

Let’s start with Increasing enterprise growth.  growthWhat is IT doing on the right to increase growth?

1. Analytics and BI can identify untapped markets, great customer sales potential and run tests to improve market success of new products/services.

2. Analytics, Collaboration technologies and ERP apps tied to Mobile technologies can provide field sales the ability to outshine competitors in front of customers.

Delivering operational results – results

1. Again analytics and BI can play a large role in provide visibility to internal processes, tie that to mobile technologies to speed decision-making and leveraging optimized ERP applications to improved processes.

2. The most obvious is that Cloud computing, Virtualization, and Legacy modernization can reduce IT cost and thus help the bottom line.

Reducing enterprise costs – see above  reduce

We can go through the entire list, but you get the idea.  The important note here is that both IT and the lines of business should have their strategies and tactics matrixed to clearly demonstrate alignment is clear.  Also, they need to communicate, measure and promote this alignment throughout the company during your fiscal year and across years for longer range projects.

Performing a constant translation is important, as this year it is Cloud, Analytics, and BYOD requiring translation from the IT to the LOB side.  Depending on  your industry there are several business terms IT will need the business to ensure they have clear translations.

Article Review: 7 Perspectives of IT in 2020

images (1)Please do, yes do read Ms. Zhu’s full article and determine for yourself your alignment or not with her perspectives.  For me,  I believe the overall basis is that IT departments in companies will go through the evolutionary leap achieving the gains of both political and strategic power that IT leaders, pundits, analysts and so on have talked about for more than 15 years.

Hmmm, ao in the next 7 years (2020) IT will achieve the missing link of change it has strived make happen in the past 15, 20, well since the 1960’s.

I agree with the 5 through 7 is the most likely.

5. Abundance of Opportunities and Risks

– Democratization of IT:

– Every opportunity has risks:

– Governance:

6. Pervasive IT & The Planet of Apps

– Pervasive IT:

– The Planet of Apps:

– App-enriched Community Management:

7. Talent Paradox

1 through 4 for some, I really mean some (like 30) large enterprise companies and a handful of mid-market companies who have a CEO that trusts (not loves, not wants – trusts) technology and the people they have hired to run that for them.images

My perspective is that by 2020, IT for most companies will evolve into a centralized utility of network, messaging and data storage, with the application and data analysis work around processes pulled into the lines of business units.  They will utilize a combination of SAAS products (ERP, CRM, WMS, Analytics, etc…) and low-level macro object programming changes by medium to high level power users.

IT will be strategic, just not called IT.  The utility part will be service based similar to today’s power utilities.  So, it will roll under the facilities budget.

The app and analysis type work will roll under individual departments.  There will still be a need for a coordinated of data sharing across applications and thus a role for a C-Level, but it will become more focused on governance, compliance and direction like a in-house legal counsel versus a department head.

 

 

 

Really? – The Future Of Enterprise IT: 30 Executives Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice culled together these thoughts from 30 Executives on 2013.  So when it popped up in my email I was intrigued to learn what colleagues of mine thought would be happening in 2013.

Oh dear, I was disappointed.  The same BYOD/Consumerization of IT, Cloud, Big Data, tight budgets require innovation and IT needs to create an identity, aka brand.  I flashed back to the movie Bull Durham and Meat having to learn his cliches.  

So I put on my best Seth Meyers impersonation and read through the whole thing.  The out-liars of Data Copy Management (too many versions of the same file) and middleware security where interesting just because they where different, even though dull predictions of the future.

Where is my ready access to information everywhere at anytime?  Not just that IT will have handle delivering it on different devices and networks.  This is IT being the Dr. No Dr No once again, talking about the obstacles vs the opportunities.  This is the difference between most IT executives and engineers at NASA.  IT is how are we going to do it and what is hard about it and NASA is what we are going to do and when.

Saying that BYOD/Consumerization is a major thing in 2013 is just silly, not Mayan end of the world silly, but similar in it is really not a prediction.  BYOD is a thing now, and has been for a while.  The 2013 thing for IT should be moving from Dr. No to Mr. Hell Yes! as for one thing it would make IT high valued again, even in failure.  Because you went big, okay so you may have to go home – ala get a new job, but it would be worth it.

Then cloud and big data again, really – still.  That is like saying today you think Facebook will be important in 2013.  Yes, is the percentage of companies in the cloud and leveraging big data more than about 15%, no.  But, in 2013 will that number double or triple – not likely.  It will eek along,  just like in the past adoption by established companies of the internet, mobile devices and in the past and still now most sorrily analytics.

Mr. Rice gathered these thoughts well and a good distribution of people, but not truly 2013 predictions from my perspective.  I could be wrong and frankly hope I am.  My last thought when reading this was the responses people give when asked do they watch PBS shows – yes, sure we do – Masterpiece Theater and the like.  No, what they watch is reality shows like Survivor and Hoarders.  So, based on that here are my 2013 predictions for IT to focus on.

winking smilely

#1. Maintaining the old legacy systems they currently have that are actually running the business

#2 That one project of something new (could be big data, cloud, or even analytics), but likely a new ERP, CRM, or a governance project

#3 BYOD – yes, but reluctantly, because they will be brought in to your organization and you will simply have to deal with it

#4 Keeping your staff sane from having to deal with 1 – 3

#5 Chasing down IT spending not in the IT budget that other non-IT departments are doing to buy software and cloud services because they got tired of waiting for IT to get it for them

Yep, 2013 – looking forward to it.  distressed smilely

Blog – Do you know where your company IP is

Your sitting at your desk and you are looking through a great report or slide show provided by that smart as a whip employee in your department who always seems to be able to get things done and get you the information you need when you need it.

This is a highly confidential report/slide show that you would not want shared with the public, never mind your customers, suppliers or competition.

You are not aware that this report/slide show was created in Google Apps or stored in a Dropbox account sync which Ms. smart as a whip or that you are viewing it on Slideshare.

                       

 

 

 

 

Your employee did not use the company  –

  • MS-Office license or
  • servers for storing the file or
  • as such the file is not secured, password/firewall/ACL/ or
  • using an encryption process.

The file is just out there protected by the most highly security procedure in the world – ignorance.

 

 

 

This is not a bad thing.  Your employees are using the tools that the web and their mobile devices make available to them to do their job more productivily for them individually.

 

Here is the bad thing.

 

You need to be aware of this as an executive of your company so you know where your intellectial property (that precious company IP beyond trademarks) is being created, modified, shared and stored.

 

Here is the worst thing.

Your reaction being a quick policy statement banning this type of activity.  Stating that all work product by your knowledge workers MUST be done on company computers, using company software and stored on company servers.

 

Right – that will work.

 

How is that enforced exactly?  Just like a yield sign in New Jersey right?

 

The reaction should be –

  1. Find out how prevalent this is in your company
  2. Discuss at the executive level how this impacts your risk management of your IP
  3. How this impacts your current IT strategy (licensing, having your own data center, mobility)

 

You cannot stop this – so find a way to use it to your advantage.