becoming the board's best friend


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becoming the board's best friend

  1. 1. Getting Global Buy-in Five ways to become the board’s best friend when developing global IT strategies A 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, global path: 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- like facilities. 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 strategic role. 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 and co-founder of Across Consulting
  2. 2. 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. Enterprise content-manage- 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 Peter Hinssen Chairman of 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 goes global 1. Develop an enterprise IT strategy 2. Set up intelligent governance 3. Develop hybrid competencies 4. Roll out a master information plan 5. Be the fittest in the global jungle Excerpt from the CIO Survival Guide to Business/IT Fusion, Across Technology 2008