Smart Enterprise Magazine

Volume 7, Number 1, 2013

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Business executives need to be involved in conversations about IT, but such conversations should not be about technology. Ultimately, it���s about how the business can leverage information to innovate, inform product decisions, affect the customer experience or create new business models, says Joe Peppard, Professor of Information Systems and Director of the IT Leadership Program at Cranfield School of Management in the U.K. ���This is what transforms forward-thinking companies into industry leaders,��� he says in a report from CA Technologies entitled, ���The Future Role of the CIO.��� Another expert, David Houle, author of a new book, Entering the Shift Age (Sourcebooks, 2013), says CIOs can no longer focus only on technology. Instead, he says, CIOs should aggregate the intellectual property of their companies, then make sure it���s dispersed throughout the business. Houle believes the rapid technical and business changes taking place make this knowledge-sharing imperative. MBA: Essential? So, is an MBA or other advanced degree crucial to CIO success, given the CIO���s growing role in business transformation? ���Having an MBA is helpful,��� says Marv Ritter, a former CIO and CTO at many large companies, and the holder of an MBA degree himself. ���It enables CIOs to speak the language of their business counterparts.��� Even without an MBA, CIOs need certain business competencies, argues Ameet Patel, a former CTO at JPMorgan Chase and now a business-transformation adviser to start-ups and other growth companies. First is finance. ���You need to understand the numbers and be able to talk the language of the CFO,��� Patel says. ���The CIO needs to focus on cost and risk mitigation.��� As CIOs can be responsible for thousands of employees, hundreds of systems and millions in costs, ���They need to explain to the CFO how the IT investment leads to revenue generation,��� Patel adds. For CIOs, having a strong interest in emerging technologies and an entrepreneurial spirit can also be important. ���When you have a deep understanding of how new technologies can move the company forward, and you combine that with the ability to create, prototype, deploy and iterate, then you have the classic McKinsey case-based approach to looking at complex problems and innovative solutions,��� says Patel. In fact, many highly recognized and successful CIOs do not have MBAs. Randy Mott, VP and CIO at General Motors, holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics. Ben Fried, CIO at Google, has a bachelor���s degree in computer science. Others have advanced degrees, but in fields that closely align to their company���s business. Daniel Lebeau, Group CIO at GlaxoSmithKline, holds a doctorate in nuclear physics. What���s more, in his previous position as CIO at the company���s Biologicals unit, which produces vaccines, Lebeau did not hire anyone with an IT background. That���s because his BioIT group was responsible for business process management. Of the 100 people on the team, only 12 were responsible for IT infrastructure services, and just two had degrees in computer science. To be sure, there are many ways to learn, and many ways that CIOs can gain the skills and influence needed to advance business transformations. CIOs stand at the crossroads of all of critical business data, and all the systems that drive key business processes. CIOs with leadership skills in both technology and business should remain in demand. n Karyl Scott is a freelance writer in San Diego. 34 smartenterprisemag.com Customer Engagement Through Social Media CA Technologies launched a social network in 2010 that connects customers, partners and employees, enabling them to pose questions, share expertise, and access a variety of online resources. Called MyCA it represents the evolution of the old-style message board to a much richer, multidimensional environment centered on a community of knowledge. This platform represents a transformation in how CA Technologies engages with customers and provides them with support and insights. It also lets customers help other customers based on their real world experience. CA Technologies took the concept of the online forum, in which technical professionals pose questions, get answers and share code, and turned it into a full online community with blogs, online libraries and thought leadership about emerging industry trends and best practices, says Samuel Creek, a Senior Principal Business Analyst with CA Technologies in San Francisco. CA Technologies has applied the latest thinking around B2B social communities to this effort. According to social media guru Clay Shirky, speaking at a recent industry event (hosted by LinkedIn), companies should no longer think about a straight transactional environment where an order comes in and a product goes out. They need to identify key networking individuals who have lots of useful connections, can share ideas and offer insights that make the social network more valuable. MyCA also has a recognition component that rewards members based on behaviors ranging from answering questions and posting code to reading blog posts and/ or responding to them. ���It���s a system of social equity that rewards activity and expertise,��� says Margaret Brooks, VP of Customer Success at CA Technologies in Memphis, Tenn. Members can collect points and achieve status such as contributor, aficionado and champion. The program is based on the notion that people are geared toward social recognition and are naturally acquisitive, so they want to complete missions and collect points. This facet of MyCA is often referred to as ���gamification��� because it shares the achievement and reward principles of computer gaming. In addition to publishing weekly statistics on the system, Creek meets with managers at CA Technologies regularly to spread the word. The result is that several individual departments are researching their own versions of the system. Ultimately, Creek hopes MyCA will provide a virtuous circle of communications between customers and our software engineers. ���We need customer insights integrated with product creation, testing, deployment and ongoing usage,��� he says. That will help improve products, cut costs and increase customer satisfaction. So far, MyCA is on track: With 35,000 members, 1,000 participate daily and 100 new members sign up every week. ��� K.S.

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