Opinion

Thought for the day:In light of the bottom line

Chief information officer Catherine Doran tackles a hot issue of the day.The history of technology adoption is well known: established organisations developed systems that automated pre-existing processes, viewing the systems as a "bolt-on" to their core business.

Now technology has become core to the business infrastructure it is well understood. Or is it?

Most IT departments still see themselves as something separate from the mainstream business, and both the business and technology communities collude in maintaining that stance.

When asked, the average IT professional would have little sense of the impact of his or her work on the company's profit-and-loss account. This creates discontinuities and allows the "them and us" mentality to flourish.

I believe the chief information officer - whether global or local - should play a key role in banishing this corporate mindset.

If you are one, your first, but not your only port of call is the IT department. Abolish the concept of IT projects - there is no such thing. There are change projects that are largely technology based, and some that have a more even mix. But they all have an impact on the overall business.

Other options include building in flexibility, so that your IT department can react rapidly to changing business priorities.

One good aspect of global business is that it has forced chief information officers out of their shells to create global support centres and global architectures for their companies.

It has also encouraged the concept of centres of excellence, so that regional IT groups have an incentive to co-operate and a global approach becomes the norm.

There are other considerations, such as the concept of common infrastructure and applications across the enterprise. Businesses have had to learn how to start up in new regions quickly and cost effectively by creating a repeatable process; and supporting the organisation's global expansion by taking technology off the critical path.

Sure, these are complex matters, and they are far easier to identify than to solve. However, they represent some critical developments in the role of the global CIO. For the business to work as a whole, they must be overcome.

What's your view?
Does your IT department truly work as part of your business? Tell us in an e-mail >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Catherine Doran is chief information officer at global investment bank Capital One.

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This was first published in July 2002

 

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