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CIOs need to get Social (Media)

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

When looking at the evolution of the CIO role within the enterprise, you need to consider what drives the scope of responsibilities and skills required to manage the environment, the experience necessary to drive innovation, and the competencies required to support the needs of the business in correlation to the technologies. When you examine the evolution of technology, you will see that every decade has brought about a major shift that has profoundly impacted the business in one way or another.

Bringing social media to the enterprise is akin to the technology integration problems of the past.

 

It began with the mainframe, which enabled organizations to process massive amount of data; then personal computers, to help distribute and empower end users; then the Internet, which enabled global connectivity and commerce; and now we are in the midst of the next evolution: social media.

Having served in the workforce for the latter part of the PC era and as a relatively successful executive during the Internet era, I understand the need for organizations to draw upon innovation to drive growth, product enhancement, and competitive differentiation. As the industry moves to better understand and utilize social media, I also want to prepare myself from a thought leadership and competency perspective in this domain. It is critical for technology leaders like my peer CIOs to get involved in better understanding the value proposition social media can have for their respective organization.

It is clear to me that social media will have a continued impact on how organizations interact with their stakeholders, both internally and externally, when you consider the consumerization of IT and the expectations of the millennial generation. The interconnected individual has clear expectations around enablement and access to social media platforms. Organizations that block access to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ will be challenged with attrition.

It’s not just about preventing fires, however, because social also has the opportunity to contribute to Growth and RetentionRisk and ComplianceEfficiency and Expense Control, and Claims Indemnity Control of an organization’s external customers. A recent Celent Report, “Emerging Insurance Technologies – General (P&C) Insurance Industry Edition 2011,” published in December 2011, indicates that social media affects each one of the quadrants mentioned. If organizations do not get social, they will be at a competitive disadvantage on multiple dimensions.

The time for CIOs to engage in social media is now.

As I am a realist, I must admit that I have come across peers who are reluctant to engage in social media. Though they might already have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+ accounts, they might not see how social media can benefit their organization. Or maybe they feel there are too many unknowns and that, if the organization was to adopt social media, they would be putting the organization at risk from a data and security perspective.

But that doesn’t have to be the end.

To successfully engage social media, CIOs needs to recognize what they don’t know about the new technology. With that recognition, CIOs can start a dialogue with experts in this space and learn as much from them as possible. Once they’ve attained this knowledge, CIOs should engage with the business sponsors (CMO, Compliance, Sales, etc.) to establish a strategy around how to adopt social media. The role of the CIO is to help educate the business sponsor, drive enablement, and ultimately deliver innovation.

I know I will be ready to enable my organization – will you be?

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Change is good….!!!

December 21, 2011 1 comment

First off, apologies – I have been focused on other priorities the past month when I suddenly realized that I have been absent for over 1 month. Hopefully this entry will make up for the lost time.

We have all seen the ‘change is good’ slogan in many different setting – so you all know what it means. Well, let me put the importance of change in the context of IT solution delivery. I will set the context with this correlation – the Declaration of Independence which was written over 235 years ago (pre-industrial revolution, pre-depression, pre-globalization, pre-etc.etc.etc.) and is used to govern the United States of America – NEEDS to be modified to support the demanding dynamics of a interconnected global economy. Yes, the core values of the Declaration are still applicable for our country but somehow it has hampered our ability to properly run government in the 21st century. I will stop there as I am not a politician nor do I aspire to play in the political arena.

The correlation of my political example is for how ‘traditional’ IT organizations deliver and develop solutions for the business. There is the traditional Waterfall development methodology and there are the Agile/SCRUM methodologies. The difference boils down to ‘predictability’ vs. ‘adaptability’. IT organizations supporting legacy environments are likely to be very mature with the Waterfall approach, and those organizations working in a more dynamic business oriented environment will likely utilize Agile/SCRUM.

I propose there is a new era upon us IT professionals. When you factor in the need for IT organizations to support legacy (Waterfall), maintain the web solutions deployed to date (Agile/SCRUM) – the new era we need to adapt to is a combination of the two approaches for the following realities:

  • Consumerization of IT: as the everyday technologies that we are used to utilizing in our respective personal lives gets ingrained into the professional environments – IT organizations need to prepare for this from a solution delivery and support perspective. What is important to understand with Consumerization of IT, is that this is the expectation of Millennial generation (see my blog on GENeX).
  • Web 2.0/3.0: this is where the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, etc. (the list is endless) are starting to be utilized by Fortune 500. Though the business benefits and metrics for utilizing Social Media are in the nascent stages, it is an inevitable component of how organizations need to deploy value propositions for their target audience through the use of Social Media. That creates a challenge for traditional IT organizations in that the development approaches for these few examples are not Waterfall, are not Agile/SCRUM but more Extreme Agile (not XP) in that changes are applied on a daily, weekly and on rare occasion monthly basis. As these platforms are integrated with the legacy environments of the enterprise, it becomes very difficult for traditional IT to keep up with the integration changes.

I have had the privilege of attending numerous conferences and closed panels where representatives from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google were present in meeting enterprise representatives from Fortune 500 organizations. The challenge is clear and what is also clear is that all parties want to collaborate on a solution. Traditional IT will be very reliant on partnerships with external parties and the time is now for the enterprise (traditional) organizations to form partnerships with these entities.

This all boils down to ‘change’ for all parities involved. Traditional organizations will need to prepare their culture, processes, people, etc. from a readiness perspective. It is tough balance given the ever changing environments and priorities of the enterprise but it is necessary to focus now. It will also be a challenge for the external parties who have pressures to drive awareness, presence, revenue, eyes, etc. and to work in a ‘constrained’ environment will be suffocating but the balance needs to be a focus.

Good luck to all as I am getting ready for the change as well!!!

Leadership

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Have you taken the time to reflect and understand what ‘Leadership’ means to you?  If you Google the word Leadership, you get the unarguable traits of all good leaders (honest, high integrity, motivates, has fun, has humility, is decisive, etc.).   However what many people make the mistake of is assuming that if you are a Manager you are naturally a Leader.  That is so far from the truth.  I am a firm believer that Leaders are born Leaders and you cannot train, educate or mentor an individual to be a Leader.  There is a clear distinction that former Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs and current professor at Harvard Business School, Rob Kaplan summarizes succinctly ‘leaders are those who find their passion and do something about it’.

Many individuals make the false assumption that once they reach a level of authority within an organization that they are Leaders.  It is when organizations promote managers to be leaders is when the organization fails, stalls and becomes stagnant.

In my humble opinion, Leaders empower those around them to succeed and most importantly to fail and learn from their failures.  Micro managing your team is not leadership – it is being a task-master which is not inspiring for those around you.  Leaders set the vision, empower the organization to execute the vision and mentor/coach the organization to achieve the vision. It is not about checking the lines of code, number of test cases, calculating whether the figures in a presentation total properly, if you are doing those activities as a Leader – STOP!!!

I mean STOP being in a position of Leadership.  You should be in a manager position where the responsibilities are clear and the tasks are defined.  This will ensure you are successful and the broader organization is able to progress forward.

Categories: IT, leadership Tags: ,

Generation Expectation – GENeX

October 20, 2011 1 comment

Individuals are living longer, technology is becoming more and more pervasive – moving from corporate lives into the daily lives of consumers and expectations are very high for our millennium and gen Y population.  You’ve seen the YouTube video of baby girl having a hard time transition from iPad to magazine – if not, here is the link.

If corporations do not take action to ensure the what I call GENeX (generation expectation) of our younger generation are aligned to technology solutions and capabilities, they will be negatively impacted on multiple dimensions:

  1. productivity – future employees coming out of universities and joining the work force will have an expectation that the applications, equipment and peripheries will be state of the art to what they used during their studies.
  2. retention – if organizations fail to bridge the gap, they will be challenged with high attrition.
  3. revenue vis-a-vis these individuals are also consumers – we often forget that organizations are sometimes their worst enemy.   If the technology being developed are not meeting expectations of their employees, how does that experience transcend itself into technologies developed/deployed that are external facing.

Organizations cannot wait any longer – the time is now.  My series will continue with thoughts on how organizations can bring innovation and capabilities into the work place to ensure they are not faced with green-screens – YIKES!

The misconception of an IT Strategy – Part 2

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment

My previous blog spoke about the importance of ensuring a holistic view of the business is taken into context in order to develop an IT Strategy.   Just to summarize, businesses not able to articulate their vision (beyond 6 months) should not spend time developing an IT strategy.  What they need to focus on is the development of an IT plan – which is purely tactical and may even be throw away from an investment perspective.

The next part of this series is focused around partnership.  The old saying goes, ‘it takes two to tango’ – this phrase is foundational in the development of an IT strategy.  Businesses developing their vision without IT stakeholders at the table are fooling themselves.  In this age of technology advancement (with the likes of Social Media, Web 2.0, mobility, Big Data and the like) – how would any organization realistically achieve business differentiation, market growth, product innovation, client servicing, etc. WITHOUT IT at the table.  Simply developing the business strategy and then throwing it over the fence for IT to figure out how the pieces come together from a technology perspective is just insane.  Yet, many organization have taken that approach, making statements such as IT doesn’t understand our business, IT doesn’t need to be at the table, and the classic – IT should not tell the business what they need to do.

I encourage you to build the partnerships with the business – this is easier said than done and it takes time.  IT needs to be build the trust with the business, talk in business terms, translate technical-speak to basic business terms and be able to deliver quality solutions.

The misconception of an IT Strategy – Part 1

October 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I have developed IT blueprints, roadmaps and what is most commonly known as strategies for fortune 100 organizations throughout my career.  The methodology and framework to establish a true strategy is not rocket science, the true science in a good IT strategy is the alignment to the business strategy.  That sounds logical enough – however, many IT executives don’t understand the importance of the linkage to business objectives.

Creating an IT strategy absent of understanding how it aligns to the business aspirations will inevitably gain no adoption or buy-in.  Even if the IT strategy is focused on IT initiatives only – for example, if the objective is to reduce redundant systems, which is perceived to be an IT objective – sunsetting legacy or redundant systems impacts business process and people.  So by taking out System A without understanding how it impacts the business process or people will not be a recommended approach.  That is one misconception of an IT strategy.

Organizations need to developed a deep understanding of where and what the business wants to be in 1, 3 or 5 years and ensure the underlining strategies are aligned to those business objectives.  And make no mistake, the underlining strategies are not just IT – but organizationally, process-wise, financial and the like.  The key is to ensure objectives can be measured and holistic enough to understand the impact if the business strategy changes – how does it impact the underlining strategies.

Categories: IT, IT strategy Tags: , ,