uGovernIT

A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Archive for the ‘Helping CIOs’ Category

Six Principles from Amazon can also guide CIOs

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos addresses a press

In the old article “6 Things Jeff Bezos Knew Back in 1997 That Made Amazon a Gorilla”,  Jeff identified key insights that can help entrepreneurs.  Sitting across the table with one of the five founders at Amazon at one of the round tables, I was astounded as to the audacity and approach they were taking.  I wrote a blog post on how those principles had guided me.  After nearly two decades, these six principles are still very true.

  1. When there is a window of opportunity – go for it.2. Think Long Term 5-7 years. 3. Focus on Long Term Market share – not short term profits.  4. OK to make mistakes but not be timid.  5. Obsess over customers.  6. Be the First.

Jeff’s guidance is not just for entrepreneurs.  IT leaders can apply these principles to transform the enterprises they work for.  The first principle of going after opportunities means that IT leadership should be proactive and seek out technology initiatives.  The second principle (long term thinking), the third principle (market share) and the sixth principle (“be the first”) all imply that IT leaders should constantly look for innovation that may not yield short term results but give the enterprise significant slice of the markets.

The fourth principle recognizes that innovation inherently carries risk.  The key is to make mistakes quickly and learn from them, but once it is deemed a failure, rapidly discard them or modify them to yield better outcomes.  It is interesting that very few IT leaders assess and abandon projects that yield no value.  The fifth principle of revolving around the customer implies transparency in building IT systems that are no closed within the enterprise.  Rather, IT systems should revolve around customers served by the enterprise.

I am proud to have built our firm around these six principles.  The new paradigm for IT management is not just ITSM but transforming the enterprise to meet the digital era! IT leaders can say goodbye to legacy tools,  uGovernIT – is the first tool to have ITSM plus Digital PMO!  uGovernIT is offered at a very attractive price and enables IT to become the change agents delivering not only IT enabled services but digital projects across the enterprise. Businesses and Customers can easily interact with IT using our automated agents, pre-built workflows and wizards. Check us out at www.ugovernit.com.

 

Written by Subbu Murthy

June 1, 2016 at 11:01 pm

Think like a CDO – Act like a CIO

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Businesswoman giving business card to client in office

Background

In two previous blog posts, we discussed the career of the CIO: “The  Six Stages of the CIO“,  I had suggested a six stage process:  Learn, Grow, Leap, Mature, Become Stable, and Share!   This was great if you just wanted to end the career as a CIO.  In a follow up to this blog post, CIO: Chapter 2, I proposed roles such as  CIO/COO, CIO/CFO and even CIO/CMO.  I always admired these lucky CIOs as they broke away from the mold.  Some suggested that I had missed an important alternative – the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).

The Role of the Chief Digital Officer

When organizations did not understand technology, they responded by creating the position of the Chief Information Officer.  The CIO was the bridge by helping businesses communicate their technology needs and helping IT align the resources to match those needs.  Many of the CIOs focused their attention on execution.  This focus on execution meant that CIOs were slow to respond to the Digital Enterprise.  Organizations responded by creating the CDO.   Many CIOs disagree with this approach. While most recognize the need, CIOs argue that the CDO should report to the CIO.  Sadly, the CIOs are losing. More than 80% of CDOs report to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

Can the CIO also be the CDO?

CIO Executive Council (CEC), and yours truly, had the pleasure of interviewing Ashwin Rangan.  We asked Ashwin “There’s been some talk and more than a few articles concerning the current importance of the Chief Digital Officer. However, there is some speculation – even from CDOs themselves – that the need for such a position may be temporary as digital expertise and knowledge spreads across the C-suite and a company. Do you have any thoughts on that?”

In relationship to the CIO, Ashwin opined “To me, logic would argue that if the CIO is fully glued into the business of the organization, then the CIO ought to be the chief digital officer as well, because nobody understands the digital technology aspect as well as the CIO. The question that is being asked is who best understands the impact of the application, not the application itself. So, whenever there is a business-savvy CIO at the table who can understand and articulate the impact of digital technology as opposed to the application, I don’t believe there is a need for a separate Chief Digital Officer.”

 Reflections

At first glance, we may argue against Ashwin’s position.  The CIO has way too much on the plate, and the CDO’s role will only complicate things.  Upon reflection, Ashwin is right on the money.  The technology wave Analytics, Automation, Cloud, IOT (Internet of Things), Mobility, and Social Computing , have enabled enterprises of all sizes to embark on a journey where technology and core business are inseparable.  The CIO has to think about it anyway.

Let us look at it from the mid-market CIO perspctive.  Mid-market enterprises need an entrepreneurial individual who understands the technology and the business.  The key differentiators between the CIO and CDO are how they approach a technology solution.  CIO approaches it from the position of alignment to business, efficiency and risk aversion.  The CDO approaches it from the position of disrupting the market with innovative solutions.  These solutions have to be aligned to business, be efficient and low risk.   The CIO thinks top down, and the CDO thinks bottom up.  Therein, you have the answer.  Therefore, you can also be the CDO if you can think like a CDO, but act like a CIO.

Written by Subbu Murthy

April 28, 2016 at 6:35 am

SMDB – The New IT Paradigm

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IT Asset Management

Before the Cloud …

Cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and Software as a Service (SaaS) have rendered many of our IT management paradigms obsolete.  In the past IT management centered around Data Center and multiple IT assets.  Management embraced CMDB as the fundamental component of their IT delivery.  No wonder tool vendors like Remedy and ServiceNow sprung up built on the CMDB metaphor.

A configuration management database (CMDB) is a database that contains all relevant information about the components of the information system used in an organization’s IT services and the relationships between those components. A CMDB provides an organized view of data and a means of examining that data from any desired perspective. Within this context, components of an information system are referred to as configuration items (CI). A CI can be any conceivable IT component, including software, hardware, documentation, and personnel, as well as any combination of them. The processes of configuration management seek to specify, control, and track configuration items and any changes made to them in a comprehensive and systematic fashion.

CMDB was one of the most critical aspects in ensuring safety and security of the enterprise. It was essential to provide a scalable, reliable, and secure Enterprise Architecture. While very useful, CMDB based management was expensive and needed enormous resources to maintain its relevance.

The New Wave …

The Digital Age has created the need to move to a nimble and innovation centric Enterprise forced IT leaders to look for a different model.  CMDB served its purpose, but automation took over.  Tools like Airwatch made asset discovery and management a very trivial exercise.  SaaS solutions rendered expensive application management obsolete, and beacons provided assets to communicate with one other without human intervention.  In other words, the CMDB has became a commodity.  IT has shifted its management focus to a service oriented architecture.  While ITIL and vendors quickly adapted their approach to take into account the need for a service delivery framework, the tool vendors simply patched their CMDB tools to appear like a services framework.  While large companies can afford to spend money liberally on tools, mid-market enterprises cannot afford this luxury.

Introducing SMDB …

As we have done in our tool (uGovernIT), there is a need for a Service Management Database (SMDB). Not just a catalog or traditional master data database, but a self-learning and adaptable service engine that can be easily embraced by mid-market enterprises. SMDB is comprehensive solution and includes the business demand for IT including user service requests, projects, and business need for innovation.  SMDB also includes the supply chain including people and assets to meet the demand.  To be effective, the SMDB should also include the processes and automation to make management simple. SMDB should provide knowledge management, workflows, collaboration, and analytics along with project management, project portfolios.  SMDB will not only help manage IT budget and IT spend, but also help to provide transparency into IT activities and facilitate effective demand management.  Agents and automation will make it easy for enterprises to adopt SMDB.

Adopting SMDB …

The CIO was the bridge by helping businesses communicate their technology needs and helping IT align the resources to match those needs.  Many of the CIOs focused their attention on execution.  This focus on execution meant that CIOs were slow to respond to the Digital Enterprise.  The organizations responded by creating a new role – the“Chief Digital Officer (CDO)”. While CIOs are still slow to adopt SMDB, CDOs, on the other hand have made SMDB their basis for managing the Digital Enterprise. If the CIO does not wake up to the new Digital Age, then the CIO era will sadly come to an end.  SMDB is an agile and nimble framework to help CIOs bridging the gap between the Analog enterprise and the Digital enterprise.  We are very pleased to play a part in this transformation.

Written by Subbu Murthy

February 4, 2016 at 10:54 pm

CIO: Chapter 2

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Silhouette of man in the mountain

 

This blog is not for CIOs who are currently getting their IT aligned to business or in the midst of a major overhaul of their ERP system or involved in transforming the organization from analog to digital.   This blog is reserved for those who have done all that and asking themselves what next?  In an earlier blog post: “The  Six Stages of the CIO“,  I had suggested a six stage process:  Learn, Grow, Leap, Mature, Become Stable, and Share!   This was great if you just wanted to end the career as a CIO.  Many CIOs, if not most,  fall into this category.  They look for a new job where they can repeat their know-how in a different setting.  They will encounter very few challenges, but 2 to 3 years later they will be in the same position again.  The average life of a CIO is around 4 years in a firm, so if you are journeyman CIO, then by the sunset of your career, you will have been a CIO in five to six companies (assuming it took you 10+ years to get there).

An attractive option is to move laterally with a view to move to the top.  Options are heading up Supply Chain or Operations or Finance or even Sales and Marketing or Strategy Planning.  You want to position yourself as the next COO or CEO.  To do this, you must have aligned the IT to your business, built a solid organization with key resources who are ready to take over your job, understand the business you are in, and built a very good relationship with your peers.  If you are interested in taking this option, you must start planning this from day 1 when you take your assignment as a CIO.

Curiously some of it happens just by chance. Many CIOs are asked to take on roles that they have never done before. I know several who are CIO/COO, CIO/CFO and even CIO/CMO.  These lucky CIOs are forced to break away from the mold. If you are not among the fortunate to get such roles, you can still break away from the mold by fearlessly following your instincts and focusing on how to deliver value to the Enterprise.

Written by Subbu Murthy

January 29, 2016 at 11:09 pm

A Lesson in Life from the CEO of Boston Celtics and the CEO of Boston RedSox

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Celtics and RedSoxAs a Lakers fan and a Dodger fan, I may have committed two cardinal sins that may not be condoned by southern californians. On a business trip to Boston, I was privileged to attend the Evanta CIO Executive Summit.  The key note was moderated by David Rudzinsky, SVP, Information Services & CIO at Hologic, Inc.  The two key note speakers were Wyc Grousbeck, Governor and CEO of Boston Celtics, and Larry Lucchino, CEO of Boston RedSox.

With CEOsUnlike “I did so and so, or you should do so and so” keynotes which is typical of CIO Events, this was different.  There was a just a panel discussion.  Neither Wyc nor Larry,  even remotely hinted about their stellar achievements.  They shared how technology had changed sports. Larry was articulating how analytics was helping the organization draw the balance between intuitive decision making and fact based decision making – scary to think how a former basketball player and baseball player is in tune with the technology trends. Wyc was talking about the role and influence technology had played in the Celtics organization. If you visit the Evanta site, you can read all about it.  I will only share two of the many insights they shared.  Wyc shared that streaming basketball games on mobile phones in China alone yielded NBA 280 million dollars in revenues last season. Larry shared that decades back, internet rights were given away by baseball owners to MLB leading to inequities between large markets such as Boston, LA or NY and smaller markets like Kansas City.

The punch line!

It was refreshing to hear these two and meet them afterwards.  But Wyc left us with a very impressive message.  When asked what advice they had for CIOs, Wyc said “All of you have achieved a lot in life.   You may want to start thinking about what your next banner will be.  In my case, I have a blind son, and while it was great to hold the Celtics banner in 2008, it will be nicer if I hold a banner for a social cause.

Written by Subbu Murthy

December 2, 2015 at 6:29 am

Walking the Talk: A Thanksgiving Story

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Walking the Talk

A few Thanksgiving seasons back,  I was in Singapore in a taxi, and it was
obvious that the driver was no ordinary person.  On the topic of Governance, which I am particularly fond of, the taxi driver articulated the key differences in the system Singapore uses to ensure that only qualified candidates are nominated for the top post.  This topic is neither about the political system in Singapore  nor about the pathetic state of affairs facing us next year here in the United States.  Interested readers can read this monograph: Introduction to Singapore’s Political System.  Rather the discussion is around the taxi driver who turns out to be the CEO of one of the top ten taxi companies in Singapore.  I was very curious why the CEO would also function as the taxi driver.  It turns out that the CEO started as a taxi driver and had the good fortune (as he put it) to rise to the level he did, but to keep his feet on the ground he spends a few days every month as the taxi driver.  He said that walking the talk was more valuable than management books, advisers and networking events.

I have always looked upon him as my role model.  FYI – the picture shown is not him, but a symbol of him.  Over the years we lost contact, but I have never forgotten my lesson.  To this day, I practice it.  When I announced I was the Consultant CIO at Howard Building, it is an example of walking the talk.  It is about my dual role as a CIO helping small to mid-market enterprises imbibe technology Governance using our product uGovernIT,  and my primary role as CEO of UGovernIT, Inc. which produces the product.  So many times, CEOs become successful and move away from the very thing that made them successful.  For the past decade I have served as CIO/CTO in six firms who could not afford a full-time IT leader.  My low consulting rates helped them get the expertise and the tools to govern IT, but I got the better end of the bargain. Our tool uGovernIT was the beneficiary of continuous improvement.  Over the years we have evolved to become a full ERP like solution for managing the IT function. It was designed by CIOs and IT management experts and built on a single integrated platform.  It is a complete solution and helps triage and manage user service requests, problems, change requests, workflow and collaboration driven project management, project portfolios, manage IT budget and IT spend, and manage resource demand.

Written by Subbu Murthy

November 22, 2015 at 11:53 am

A Three Stage Process for Project Management

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Business People and Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

Project Management has been and will always remain a challenge.  Tools, including the best of breed, are at best enablers.  Most firms still rely on the project manager and the project team to deliver projects.  In an earlier blog post, I had alluded to the art of simplifying things as a sound guideline in managing projects.  The evolution from control-centric (Theory X) to people-centric (Theory Y) has been in the works for decades, and most firms now have abandoned the older and more rigid models for managing projects. Today it is all about people and process simplification. Management is evolving to focus on simplicity and rapid delivery.

Just being within budget and schedule is not good enough – projects need to deliver value.  While the challenge of managing projects continues to present opportunities for making improvements in how we deliver, the focus on value raises an even more fundamental question.  Which projects do we select?, and equally important, when do we abandon what we have erroneously started?

In larger firms, the traditional focus on execution has shifted to a three stage process:

In order to realize value from projects, larger firms have started emphasizing on developing strategies to select and sequence the projects to be implemented. The focus at this stage is on value.  Once the projects are identified they are generally implemented using a customized collection of processes (both agile and waterfall) to facilitate efficient implementation.  Therefore traditional project attributes such as scope, cost, schedule, and customer satisfaction become the metrics that qualify a project.  Managing risk is critical, and independent project evaluation is essential to ensure that failing projects are either fixed or cancelled.

The discussion above shows that there are three different organizational components to manage projects.  From a tools perspective, the industry has point solutions for managing the three stages identified, but they are expensive, and need significant work to get a 360 degree view of the project.

Larger firms have the luxury of resources and tools to maintain a strategic team to decide on the project portfolio, a PMO (Project Management Office) to manage the portfolio and a Governance/Audit group to assess the project risk and make changes as needed, including the option to terminate dysfunctional projects.

Mid-Market firms do not have this luxury.  They rely on tools, the leadership team and the project manager.   About 80% of the Mid-Market firms rely on Microsoft Office (Excel, Project).  They do not have the resources to integrate progress across multiple projects.   Mid-market firms should not follow the path of their older and bigger brothers.  They should recognize that integrating them to get a holistic view has significant benefits.  Gartner and other analysts have started to endorse this view, and fortunately,  our cloud based project management tool is based on these ideas.

Written by Subbu Murthy

November 18, 2015 at 3:58 pm