Getting Global Buy-in
Five ways to become the board’s best friend when developing global IT strategies
n increasing number of CIOs are uncomfortable in the
boardroom when asked how the IT function will
perform when the enterprise goes global. In particular,
CIOs working in industries such as healthcare,
telecommunications and banking are struggling to keep up with
the global visions of their organizations.
What should CIOs know in order to stay ahead of the curve? First,
globalization not only affects the way the enterprise runs, but it also has
a fundamental impact on the way IT has to be managed and governed.
When companies decide to develop their business on a global
scale, technology either is an enabler or an inhibitor in executing
the expansion strategies. While peers pursue new territories, the CIO
is expected to manage an effective IT function and also assume
the role of business visionary.
Especially in times of recession, the CIO must become the best
friend of the chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating
officer (COO). The IT budget will be hurt in a financial downturn
if IT executives are not responsive enough to the changing business
environment in which they operate.
What we call the “adaptive” CIO is someone with a clear
vision of running technology in a borderless world. This new-style
IT executive understands that global distribution channels and
operations on different continents require an agile IT strategy.
Combining business savvy with a holistic view differentiates an
adaptive CIO from less-fit peers. Research indicates that U.S.
CIOs already have a head start in the global survival contest,
especially in industries such as banking, services, logistics and travel.
Here is a five-step plan that will set all CIOs on an adaptive,
1. Develop an enterprise IT strategy
CIOs need a wide view of their organization’s supply or value
chain. A good global operating model will have strong IT foun-
dations and a capacity to support enterprisewide processes. The
enterprise IT strategy itself should center on a flexible, “plug-
and-play” IT architecture that supports global processes. The
platform will provide Web-oriented features and offer the
business an extended portfolio of shared services and portal-
2. Set up an intelligent governance framework
Sound governance balances the cost of running IT with productivity
improvements and business continuity. It aligns the IT governance
archetype with the actual, evolving operating model. Successful
CIOs understand that strategic IT investments have to be seen in
an enterprise context. When cost reductions become the prevailing
imperative, an intelligent approach to IT funding will safeguard
the enterprise from making the wrong technology decisions. In
other words, organizations must plan and monitor IT investments
across the enterprise instead of managing silos. The focus of the
adaptive CIO is on IT initiatives that streamline cross-border
operations and facilitate the roll-out of Web-oriented distribution
models for e-banking, trading or logistics functions.
3. Develop and attract hybrid competencies
Hybrids have the best of both worlds, and in the case of IT, they
combine business competences with technology expertise. Hybrid
IT means that the CIO attracts lateral thinkers, communicators,
and people with a mixed business/IT background. They do not
isolate themselves from the business crowd but rather have the
ability to mix and mingle with non-IT peers. Similarly, the hybrid
IT leader assumes a liaison function with the demand side of
the organization and plays the role of relationship builder. These
leaders thrive in an environment of multi-sourcing and intensive
vendor management, and they adapt swiftly to a new ecosystem.
The next generation of IT employees will infuse the IT organiza-
tion with business-related competencies, preparing it for a more
4. Roll out a master information plan
Product development, service management and decision making will
become more effective when there is Just-In-Time Intelligence —
Business Technology Strategy BUSINESS WITHOUT BORDERS
By Peter Hinssen and Jeroen Derynck
Smart Insights: Peter Hinssen
Chairman of Porthus.com and co-founder of
Business Technology Strategy BUSINESS WITHOUT BORDERS … Continued Page 2
that is, business access to data on
demand. Web 2.0 redefined the
way consumers act and interact
with the enterprise. Now, clever
IT executives see the increasing
importance of enterprise-wide
information as a way to deploy a
master information plan. This
blueprint goes beyond the simple
function of storing data; it sees the
enterprise information architecture
in terms of collective
intelligence and content sharing.
ment systems combined with Web
2.0 collaboration technologies
such as wikis and social networks,
will prepare the organization for
the looming challenges of the
digital era. The corporate intranet
will serve as an information portal
and will include aggregation and localization features. In this
model, employees can easily share, publish and comment upon
information that goes around the enterprise.
Collaboration platforms will facilitate cross-border commu-
nity-building and will let the enterprise manage collective data to
improve customer intimacy and decision making. Industry sectors
such as utilities, banking and healthcare will certainly benefit from
content management as well as an enterprise view of information.
5. Be the ﬁttest beast in the global jungle
While it’s clear that the role of the CIO is evolving from IT executive
to business executive, making this quantum leap will require a
holistic approach to managing IT in a global business landscape.
Adaptive IT executives take an enterprise view of IT governance.
They streamline IT demand and supply and align them with
global supply chains and value chains. Systems, tools and processes
support intercontinental business units.
Nevertheless, even adaptive CIOs can’t achieve these goals in a
vacuum. They have to respond quickly to market and industry
changes and become forward thinking and opportunity-driven.
Only those who understand and embrace this global environment
will help the business meet its challenges and competition.
ASK THE EXPERT
Chairman of Porthus.com and co-founder of Across Consulting
Peter Hinssen is one of Europe’s leading speakers and thought leaders on IT and
business alignment. As advisor to the executive board of one of Europe’s largest
financial institutions, he developed a program for non-IT executives and board
members, enabling them to make better decisions regarding the billions of euro’s
this institution invests in IT each year. This has now evolved into a quarterly
program for the bank’s top 100 executives. He also has issued a board-level program
on IT called “10 Things You Wish Your Mother Had Told You About IT.”
Jeroen Derynck is a technology writer and senior adviser at AcrossTechnology,
a Belgium-based enterprise IT consultancy.
Five ways to become
the board’s best friend
when your business
1. Develop an enterprise IT
2. Set up intelligent governance
3. Develop hybrid competencies
4. Roll out a master information
5. Be the ﬁttest in the global
Excerpt from the CIO Survival Guide to
Business/IT Fusion, Across Technology 2008