A Practical Approach for IT Governance

On Demand CDO Services

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Online business process managing in cloud application. Concept

Background – On Demand CIO Services

A while back we had discussed the role of On-Demand CIO services in small to mid-market enterprises.  In the past without an IT leader at the helm, mid-market firms were feeling isolated from the benefits of technology. On-Demand CIO Services makes it affordable for them to develop the business strategic plan leveraging technology.  Generally, technology enabled IT Governance system helps On-Demand CIOs provide transparency not just within the technology group but across the entire enterprise, but the key to success is deep involvement with the Enterprise. While understanding the business is critical, the CIO must have deep technical knowledge as well. Simply paraphrasing a consultant or buzz words such as Big Data, Analytics, Social Media, Cloud and Mobility will not suffice. On-Demand CIOs need that deep understanding to articulate the Enterprise Architecture and IT portfolio that brings value to the enterprise. On-Demand CIOs need to build the right vernacular to discuss technology with various stake holders.

To reiterate, On-Demand CIO does not mean you have less responsibility. The scale of the company may not need a full-time CIO, however, the roles are very similar to full-time CIOs.  The focus of On-Demand CIO is not just on reducing IT expenditures, but bringing the strategic thinking that can help the small to mid-market enterprise gain a competitive edge and increase revenues.

The Digital Enterprise

The Digital Enterprise has become the new IT paradigm.  Gartner identifies a six stage evolutionary model for becoming Digital.

Six Stages of Digital Enterprise

Analog refers to the legacy method of running a business.  Web allowed enterprises to interact with the eco-system (employees, shareholders, suppliers and customers) through the Internet.  This led to B2B and B2C models that enabled the Enterprise to conduct business over the web. Gartner defines the Digital Marketing stage marked by the emergence of the nexus of  four forces (mobile, social, cloud and information/big data). Enterprises in this stage focus on new and more sophisticated ways to reach consumers. These Enterprises are more willing to participate in marketing efforts to gain greater social connection, or product and service value.  Buyers of products and services have more brand influence and they see their mobile devices and social networks as preferred gateways.  Enterprises at this stage grapple with tapping into buyer influence to grow their business.

Gartner goes on to define the Digital Business  as the first post-nexus stage on the road map and focuses on the convergence of people, business and things. The Internet of Things and the concept of blurring between the physical and virtual worlds are strong concepts in this stage. Physical assets become digitalized and become equal actors in the business value chain alongside already-digital entities, such as systems and apps. 3D printing takes the digitalization of physical items further and provides opportunities for disruptive change in the supply chain and manufacturing. The ability to digitalize attributes of people (such as the health vital signs) is also part of this stage.

The Autonomous stage refers to the use of robots, artificial intelligence and extreme automation to create a “new” species of intelligent agents.  Star Wars may be a better metaphor, but we are already seeing self-driving cars, robots that clean and serve, robots that take pictures, etc.

The Need for the CDO

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.  The organizations responded by creating a new role – the“Chief Digital Officer (CDO)”.   Many CIOs disagree with this approach. While most recognize the need, the 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).

The Need for On Demand CDO Services

If we set aside the argument on where the CDO should report into, most will agree that small to mid-market enterprises also need this skill set.  I will argue that it is even more important in small to mid-market firms as they survive due to their innovative capabilities.  Innovation does not happen just from the top-down management models, rather, they more often than not, are taking place at grass-toots level.  And most important, Enterprises must seek out CDOs who are business savvy and tech savvy, besides being good motivators and leaders.  The flip side is that CDOs can be very expensive, and beyond the reach of small to mid-sized enterprises.  On Demand CDO Services help organizations enter the the Digital world without incurring the expenses of a full time CDO.

The second question on who is right for the job is a bit harder. The small to mid-market enterprises need an entrepreneurial individual who understands technology and the business.  Unlike a CIO, the CDO does not have the responsibility to keep the lights on, so the focus is extreme automation to reduce costs and innovation to gain market advantages.  A former technology entrepreneur or CTO may be a good source for On-Demand CDOs.

Finding On Demand CDO Positions

Just like On-Demand CIOs, finding such assignments are rarely through recruitment firms. They are usually based on a personal relationship or a referral to the CEO, COO or the CFO of the small to mid-market Enterprise. These referrals can come from other CIOs, CEOs, COOs or CFOs. So networking is the key to getting such assignments. Keeping in contact with your network via social media such as LinkedIn is good, but face-to-face networking meetings are very critical. It is also important in your profile to state that you are looking for such opportunities.



Written by Subbu Murthy

February 13, 2016 at 9:13 am

Posted in IT Governance

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 Simple Scorecard for building a Healthy Project Culture in a Technology Centric Environment

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CultureIn a very useful HBR study that attempted to build a scorecard for assessing company culture,  Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi, argue that “Creating a business case for culture isn’t impossible. While it is difficult to measure whether someone is being creative, proactive, or resilient in the moment, it’s actually not difficult to calculate total motivation.”  They identify six factors: three encouraging (Play, Purpose, Potential) and three discouraging (Emotional, Economic and Inertia or Friction).  They go on to provide a simple score card for assessing the net cultural score (they call it ToMo) based on surveying the employees.  The specific factors they use or their scoring technique is not as relevant as the approach an organization should take.

Let us start by acknowledging that while there are literally thousands of articles and models for understanding and building organizational culture.  However, the harsh reality is that very few in the leadership team have the time to devote to building a corporate culture.  The approach presented here is simple and can be implemented with relatively less effort.  To credit the authors cited above, their technique bears some resemblance to the one I am presenting.  The methodology shared here is built into our IT Governance tool (uGovernIT).

To start, baseline the current state.  Identify measurements and set a weight for each measurement.  Note that measurements can be positive or negative.  For example, excess emphasis on technology cost may hamper the innovative culture of the organization.  For technology centric-companies,  typical positive measurements may be organizations ability to tolerate mistakes, organizations ability to promote from within, flexibility in work styles, etc.   Example of negative factors include emphasis on cost and not on value, emphasis on meeting schedules and and not on quality, emphasis on onerous processes, etc. Once these factors are identified and the measuring instruments chosen, the implementation typically involves a survey mechanism.

Many use the survey ranking from 1 to 5 or 1 to 7, but this may be a mistake.  As eloquently quoted by Mr. Ken Venner, CIO at SpaceX, the best technique is to use a 1 to 4 ranking forcing the responder to select an opinion.  The baseline score is readily computed using the weights associated.  Once the base line is established, then a specific set of expected targets are established.

The diagram above shows six measurements (three to enhance the positive focus and three to diminish the negative focus).  To achieve the expected state, let us assume that the organization works out a strategy, perhaps in conjunction with experts.  Once the strategies are implemented, and survey is again conducted to measure the actual state.  This process can continue as a normal aspect of organizational change.  Scorecards will help keep us honest.  Instead of giving lip service to a serious topic, the scorecard gives organizations the current state and helps them plan for a better state.  The very fact that a scorecard is created has the Heisenberg effect.  It shows that culture is important to the organization.

The simple technique illustrated above highlights that even small organizations can undertake the effort to improve culture.  A strong organization culture is a strong brand.  All of us in technology know the value of a strong brand.

Written by Subbu Murthy

December 2, 2015 at 6:46 am

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

The Digital Enterprise and Shadow IT: A Management Enigma!

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We have all experienced some shades of shadow IT.   Gartner shared some facts at the recent CIO Summit in Orlando. In 2005, CIOs controlled 70% of IT, now they control only 58% and in 2017 they will control about 50%.  Is the growth of the Digital Enterprise a major contributor to this shift? This has led to a flurry of discussions and questions:

  1. What is the cause for this trend?  Why has the CIO lost control of IT Spending.  Is it Cloud computing, SaaS models or the push towards the Digital Enterprise?
  2. Do we encourage this trend or impose a rigid IT Governance framework that brings all control back to the CIO?
  3. If we want to encourage the trend, who should control the IT spend not controlled by the CIO?  Should we leave it to individual departments (aka shadow IT) or should we create a new position? Or should we revert to the CFO as the arbitrator?

The New Governance Model

There are no clear answers. Some argue that the reason for the shift in CIO spending is the emergence of inexpensive cloud based applications, and innovations such as autonomous robots, Internet of Things and 3-D Printing  that has led business units embrace technology easily.  Some argue that it was not the technology shift that caused the CIO to lose control, rather, it was the lack of response from the CIO that caused the business units to embrace technology on their own.

The second argument has more teeth in it.  The paradigm most CIO’s use is top-down.  Nothing wrong with it, except that the innovation is not just happening top down.   Innovation is also, in fact more often than not, happening bottom up.  Users are demanding more and oppose any structure that inhibits them.  Top down models focus on data and users focus on experience which are workflow-centric.  Therefore organizations will lose out if they do not encourage innovation.

Was the CIO a tortoise or did the technology move fast or both? In a broader sense the argument is irrelevant.  Irrespective of the cause of the shift, be it the slow CIO or rapid technology shift, the outcome is clear.  The Digital Enterprise is real – it is only a matter of time.

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.  The organizations responded by creating a new role – the “Chief Digital Officer (CDO)”.  Many CIOs disagree with this approach.  Ashwin Rangan, Chief Innovation Officer & CIO at ICANN, and former CIO at Edwards Life Sciences and Walmart, 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.”

Relationship to the CIO

If we accept the role of the CDO, many believe that the CDO should report to the CEO and be independent of the CIO.  Not everybody agrees:  Janet Schijns, Chief Marketing Technologist, Verizon shared the view that if there is a Chief Digital Officer, then the CDO should report to the CIO.  Her rationale was that IT Governance was extremely critical and the core values of security, information integrity and quality of IT cannot be overlooked. There is considerable merit in this argument – imagine what would shadow CFOs do to the integrity of financial data.


Organizations need to be nimble, alert and innovate. That said, if it is the CIO who is responsible for technology, then the CIO should be responsible for all aspects: Keeping the Lights On, leveraging technology to increase revenues and decrease costs, and foster innovation. The CDO may just be a function like the CISO reporting to the CIO.    On the flip-side, the CIO should be some combination  of a business genius, technology wizard, a benevolent leader, a great communicator, and to be a bit cheeky, automate routine management functions using tools.

Written by Subbu Murthy

October 20, 2015 at 8:09 am

Posted in Helping CIOs, IT Governance

Tagged with ,

The C-Suite needs to wake up to the Digital Age!

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At the Avasant CIO Digital Connect in Washington DC earlier this month, Kevin Parikh, CEO of Avasant,remarked “Today’s digital technology options are creating opportunities for government and corporations to be more nimble and better serve their constituents”.  He then posed a question to us (Jay Ferro, CIO, American Cancer Society;  Vivek Kalra, Senior Vice President, Tech Mahindra; and Subbu Murthy,  CEO, UGovernIT) sitting on the panel:  “How does digital innovation impact how we design and deliver technology to the Enterprise?”

The Old Paradigm 

Over the past decade, many IT Advisers, including yours truly have been canvassing the idea that IT needs to be aligned to the enterprise, IT should be an enabler, IT should be scalable, flexible, so on and so forth.  In an earlier blog post,  I identified that for the CIOs to run IT as a business, they need to develop an IT Governance mechanism that covers four key aspects:

The first and the most critical aspect is safety and security of the enterprise. This implies providing a scalable, reliable, and secure Enterprise Architecture.  It should be pointed out that the Enterprise Architecture is not just technology components, but using a framework like Zachman, it encompasses people, process and technology.  While cost efficiency, getting value out of IT and innovation are essential components of aligning IT to business, these do not matter if the enterprise is at risk. Target, Home Depot and now Anthem Blue Cross serve as grim reminders as to how critical managing risk is to the enterprise.  So the first pillar in managing IT as a business is Security and Mitigating Risk.

The notion of shared services helps IT manage and deliver shared services efficiently. This helps IT leadership use the same service framework within the department and extend its use to other functions in the business.  The second pillar in managing IT as a business is Shared Services.

Since there is usually more work than resources available, one challenge is how to identify and prioritize the IT workload?  The most effective way is to proactively work with users to enhance the value of IT delivered.  Traditional project management tools do not address this interaction between users and IT.  The key to success is to bridge the IT-User-Executive gap by providing a practical, efficient, and most important, a non-onerous process of managing IT workload.  The third pillar in managing IT as a business is Effective Demand Management.

The CIO has earned the seat at the table, but will not be able to keep it if the CIO is not helping the Enterprise meet its Strategic, Operational and Budgetary Objectives.  This requires the CIO to be the change agent driving efficiency and innovation to the Enterprise.  This also requires the CIO to align IT plans to the business plans and pay close attention to IT spend versus value delivered.  The fourth pillar in managing IT as a business is Aligning IT Spend to Business Needs.

The Digital Age and the Paradigm Shift!

As I reflected on the impact of the Digital Age, I recognize that the paradigm CIO’s use is top-down.  Nothing wrong with it, except that the innovation is not just happening top down.   Innovation is also, in fact more often than not, happening bottom up.  Users are demanding more and oppose any structure that inhibits them.  If top down design worked, why did the Taxi companies not anticipate Uber? By no means I am suggesting that we abandon IT Governance. Nor am I suggesting we abandon traditional IT alignment models.  I am suggesting that we need to incorporate the users in the innovation cycle.  We have to abandon top-down only models and add the bottom up model that keeps the user experience as a key component of developing the IT architecture.  Top down models focus on data and users focus on experience which are workflow-centric.

Janet Schijns, Chief Marketing Technologist, Verizon shared a great example.  When she manages her flights via the web, there is great help in making reservations but very little that is beneficial to the experience of the specific passenger on the specific flight.  For example:  Did your luggage make the connecting flight?  If there are delays, how are you rescheduled?

A Sandwich Model!

Borrowing from an old design paradigm,  we have to switch from the top down design model to the sandwich model.  By no means the sandwich model implies that we abandon the fundamentals we have all learnt as CIOs. But it does mean that we have to actively incorporate user-centric workflows built on easy to use platforms as part of our IT architecture, manage risk (not design rigid systems that eliminate risk), allow users to innovate, embrace change rapidly and harness the rapid changes in technology.

Implications of the Sandwich Model

Not that I have the crystal ball, but I feel that the CIO’s role will be very different from the present.  While CIOs will continue to be the change agent, and the bridge between Business and IT, the role will shift to becoming the “hermit” who will facilitate innovation.  From a technology perspective, there will be a radical shift to mobile computing.  This will force a fundamental shift from large monolithic Enterprise Systems such as SAP to modular, workflow centric mobile applications.  I hope so, I have spent millions building technology on this principle.

Written by Subbu Murthy

October 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

CIOs are judged by the Results they Deliver!

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Close up shot of a caliper, measuring the word "Results".

My very good friend, and advisor, Ashwin Rangan, pointed out that in the early stages the CIO focussed on what needed to be done. Later they recognized that processes were needed to deliver technology.  This naturally led to identifying the tools that helped them.  Today’s focus, Ashwin argues, is all about the results they can deliver.  We can use a three stage framework for understanding the paradigm shift:  Corrective, Preventive and Results Driven.

The Shift From Corrective to Preventive

Let us look at how we measure our delivery of services.  SLAs helped CIOs  identify process bottlenecks, and helped them make the necessary corrections to improve the timeliness of the delivered services.  Surveys helped CIOs improve the quality of the delivered services.  While this is great, it was a corrective set of measures – not preventive.    The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” had not lost its luster.  CIOs realized the need to empower their organization to take proactive measures to prevent/mitigate gaps in the delivery of products and services they are entrusted to manage.

It was no different when CIOs delivered major IT initiatives.  They identified cost and schedule variance, and took corrective measures when they were off-track.  While corrective measures improve how CIOs delivered technology to the enterprise, preventive measures help them deliver more for less.  As an example, look at traditional project management tools.  Initially, they focussed on using cost and schedule variance as determinants of project success. The key thing they missed was “scope management”.  Scope creep accounted for delays and cost overruns about 70% of the time.  Agile methodologies mitigated this risk to a large extent by delivering projects on a specific schedule by controlling the scope of the delivered product.

The Shift From Preventive to Results Driven

CIOs used ITIL, and ITIL based tools, to help them be proactive.   ITIL, no doubt a great framework, caters to the older school of process adherence.  Most of the tools that support the CIO are focused on process adherence.  But the real challenge was not delivering the project or service efficiently, but did the CIO deliver the results the enterprise needed?

What is badly needed is an outcome focussed tool that helps the CIO define and deliver results to the enterprise.  CIOs need to walk the talk – they talk about the role of technology in transforming the enterprise, yet they fail to use the tools internally.  In an earlier blogpost I identified that “We are so involved with day to day challenges, we seldom get the time to use some of the same tools we are delivering to our customers. The solution is quite simple – we should think and act like CEOs of an IT company. Using Key Performance Metrics (KPMs) to help manage your IT as an enterprise, IT Analytics provides you the ability to prioritize your demand and allocate resources that best serves the interest of the enterprise.”  

However, shifting to Results Driven management is much more difficult.  It requires that IT is aligned to the Enterprise, and more important, the Enterprise has not just accepted the CIO to sit at the table, but to listen and act on the CIO’s advice as well.

Written by Subbu Murthy

October 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm