Driving transformation with IT starts with transforming IT

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Change By tidefan on flickrI was just perusing the Enterprise CIO Forum and noticed the video of Canadian Pacific’s CIO Heather Campbell titled Canadian Pacific CIO transforms IT function.  In the video, the CIO describes the transformation if the Canadian Pacific IT group and their long road from an ‘under-performing’ group that was underfunded to a group that could deliver strategic technology projects to their clientele within just a few weeks.

There are some pretty interesting things discussed in this video…I’d highly recommend jumping over to watch it…its short but packed with good stuff.  After you watch it…drop back over and let’s digest what was said…I’ll wait.

Let’s discuss… 🙂

Ms. Campbell had the wisdom to understand that the IT group was under-performing..and had historically under-performed for the organization.  She understood the issues and immediately sought to rectify them.

So…what was the first thing she did…or at least the first thing she reported she did?  She didn’t reorganize. She didn’t bring in consulting companies.  She did something much more simple…much more relevant.

She and her IT team sat down with the business to understand how they can work better together.  In fact, they initiated a strategic planning process to build the first IT and Business Strategy in the history of the organization.

The next step? Build an agile environment.  Not necessarily an “Agile” environment…but one of flexibility and agility.

Canadian Pacific build a fast moving, capable and responsive team that is focused on the business’ needs…and from our outside vantage point – things look really good for Canadian Pacific, their CIO and their IT staff. The Canadian Pacific IT team transformed themselves from an under-performing organization to one that is looked at as a business partner and one that provides true competitive advantage to the organization.

A great quick video and story of how a CIO and IT has transformed themselves – and their organization – by focusing first on the business and then on the technology to meet business objectives.

Image Credit: Change By tidefan on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Replaceable You

Replaceable By steve heath on flickrWe all like to think that we are that one person in our family, team or company that is irreplaceable.

The bad thing…most of us are replaceable.

Sure…you can try to be the best at what you do…but unless you ARE the BEST at what you do, you are replaceable.

Very few people can be the best…so…by elimination, very few people are irreplaceable.

Seth Godin states it well in his book Lynchpin (amazon affiliate link):

“If all you can do is the task and you’re not in a league of your own at doing the task, you’re not indispensable.”

Let’s take a tour of the world of IT for a minute and think about the people within most IT groups.

You’ve got System Administrators. Developers. Project Managers. Testers. System Analysts. Business Analysts, Managers, etc etc.  The list goes on and on…

Out of this group of people how many are irreplaceable?

Each of these positions are necessary in the modern day IT group. That said, each is replaceable…but each is replaceable via internal or external means…via fireing/ hiring or via outsourcing.

Every single IT professional in every role has some chance of being replaced. From the CIO down the ladder to the most junior level IT grunt…everyone’s replaceable…unless they aren’t.

Think about your team.  How many on your team could be replaced (with someone of equal experience) and not have much of a hiccup?  Sure there’s some knowledge transfer that has to happen, but for the most part things would operate smoothly.

Out of a group of 100 IT professionals, are 10 irreplaceable?  How about 5? How about 1?

What makes an IT professional (or anyone) irreplaceable isn’t that they do a job or that they know something that others may not know…its how they do their job and how they apply their knowledge.

No longer can you lean on your years of service, expertise or ‘what you know’ to be successful and/or to remain employed.  To be irreplaceable, you’ve got to be irreplaceable.

You’ve got to be the person that everyone in your team / organization looks to for answers. You’ve got to be the person that everyone knows is irreplaceable.

Are you truly irreplaceable? Are you the person who gets the phone call when something ‘must get done’?  If not…you should be.

Image Credit: Replaceable By steve heath on flickr

A CIO and A CMO walk into a bar…

direction signs By emreterok on flickrA CIO and A CMO walk into a bar…

…except…they aren’t in the same bar.

They made plans to meet at Good Time Charlies on Monday.   You know – the CMO and CIO are best friends now so its time to go have a few drinks together, right?

They agree on a time and day and schedule the happy hour together in their calendar.

On Monday, the CIO leaves the office and drives over to Good Time Charlies on the east side of town.

The CMO leaves a few minutes after the CIO and heads off to to Good Time Charlies as well. Except…she goes to the new Good Time Charlies on the West side of town.

Kind of sounds like most organizations today, no?  Lots of talk about where they are going, but no real planning or clear communications about the actual destination.

The CIO and CMO want to be friends. They want to work together. They want to do the right thing.

But…are they on the same ‘page’ when it comes what needs to be done?   If not, you’ll end up just like our CIO and CMO above – in different places waiting for the other.

Are the goals of the CIO and CMO well articulated and understood?  Sure…each person understands their own goals, but does the CIO understand the goals of the CMO and vice versa?

Do the CIO and CMO communicate regularly? Do they meet regularly one-on-one?

CIO’s – do you know what the goals of the CMO and marketing group are?  Do you understand them? Do you understand how the IT group can help with those goals?

CMO’s – do you understand the goals of the CIO and IT group?  Do you understand how your team can work together with IT go ensure your goals and their goals are met?

Its very easy to say that the CIO and CMO are working closer together and will be doing so for years to come…but without clear goals and an agreed upon strategy, they may not actually be doing the best work possible.

Forget whether the work is the best possible work…without clear goals, strategy and regular communications, the CIO and CMO may end up at completely different destinations.

Image Credit: direction signs By emreterok on flickr

2011 State of the CSO

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Security By edleckert on flickrThe 8th Annual CSO Magazine State of the CSO report was released last month – I finally got my hands on a copy.  Thanks Colin!

Sidenote: Nice timing on finding this report since October is Cyber Security Month….read more on getting prepared for Cyber Security Month in Jerry Bishop’s recent Enterprise CIO Forum post.

The 2011 State of the CSO report outlines the results gathered from 229 respondents during a survey in March 2011.

Some key highlights from the survey:

  • Fewer than 2/3’s of security professionals believe their organization’s employees are trained on security related topics
  • Only 35% of respondents believe their organization’s employees consider security to be party of their daily responsibilities
  • Nearly 1/3 of respondents plan to add staff to the security function of the organization
  • Roughly 38% of respondents are planning an increase in security in the coming year
  • 64% of respondents agree that senior management view security and the security leaders as important, permanent and strategic
  • More than 60% of respondents believe that senior leadership is placing more value on security and risk management

Some interested responses but not surprising to me.  I’m not a Security pro at all but I would think that most organizations are focusing a good deal of effort and budget on ensuring both IT and Physical Security are improved throughout the enterprise.

One aspect that I found interesting is the area  focused on current and future trends that will most affect the security profession.  The responses were interesting…they are:

  • 26% of respondents pointing to ‘ubiquitous data’ as having the largest impact on the security profession
  • 21% of respondents believing technology as a service as having a large impact.
  • 20% believe that  Gen Y & Millennials entering the workplace will have a considerable impact on the security profession.

Some interesting results there. Ubiquitous Data, defined by the survey as the ability for users to have constant access to data and services, is getting closer to being a reality for all organizations.

To grab a copy of the 2011 State of the CSO Report, jump over to CSO Magazine and sign up for access.

Image Credit: Security By edleckert on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

The CIO and CMO – true love….or puppy love?

Love ? I love love love you. By doug88888 on flickrI’ve been reading a lot lately about the ‘love affair’ between Chief Information Officer’s and Chief Marketing Officer’s around the world.

I think this is a good thing…as long as this is ‘true love’ and not just infatuation between two groups that are starting to have to work closer together to get things done.

As many of my regular readers may recall, I’ve written about the CMO and CIO working closely together in the past.. for a few examples – see here, here, here and here.

Recently, other’s have been picking up the cheer for a closer relationship between marketing and IT.    A few examples:

The above articles are great…Jump over and read ’em.

But.  (there’s always a but!)

In order to make this new love affair between IT and Marketing work long term, there needs to be some serious buy-in from the other senior leaders. Without a clear agenda being set for the CIO and IT to outlines their role as the organization’s technology consultants and governance professionals AND a clear agenda set as to the role of the CMO and the Marketing team in these technology projects, this love affair is doomed to failure.

Think back in time to other relationships between IT and other parts of the business.  Think HR technology, finance technology, ecommerce projects…etc etc etc.

What’s generallly occured in these projects?  Have they all be successfull or have the generally failed?  What’s happened to the relationships between IT, HR and Finance after a PeopleSoft implementation or a large ecommerce rollout?

Generally…and I’m speaking from experience here….these relationships sour quickly once the projects kick off.


Because the IT group begins to feel like their ‘turf’ is being taken away from them. And….the other team (be it HR, Finance or Marketing) begins to feel like they are being constrained by all the “processes” being enforced by IT.

Will CIO’s start to feel like the CMO is usurping their ‘control’ of enterprise IT? Will the CMO feel like the CIO is trying to ‘own’ all technology without input and feedback from marketing?

A Love Affair….or puppy Love?

Anecdotal evidence of some cracks starting to show in this CIO / CMO love affair can be found in a blog post titled Irreparable Cracks in the CMO-CIO Relationship? where the author reports on feedback received at the recent Dreamforce ’11 conference.  That feedback doesn’t bode well…CIO’s are feeling threatened by the CMO – and vice versa.

So…is this new-found love real or just puppy love? Are the CIO and CMO really in it for the long haul, or are they just feeling the same infatuation that teenagers feel during their formative years?

In order for this new-found love yo grow into something real, there must be a true level of trust built between the two people and teams.  Both teams need to understand the roles and responsibilities of the other teams and people.

In addition, the CEO needs to clearly define the roles of the CIO and CMO in this new digital marketing world. If the CMO is to be responsible for portions of their own technology roadmap, that needs to be outlined and worked out so that the CIO and IT staff understand this and can provide the appropriate guidance and consulting to make these marketing technology projects successful.

We can talk about the rise of the CMO and Marketing Technology professionals all day…but without proper guidance and buy-in from the CIO, CEO and CMO, this love won’t last…and may turn to downright hatred.

CIO’s and CMO’s – if you want your love to move from the ‘puppy love’ stage of infatuation to a real, long term, love – make sure you work on the soft-skills. Work on the trust between yourselves and your teams. Work on roles and responsibilities. Work on the core competencies of each team.

Right now, the CIO and CMO are holding hands walking down the hall way just like two teenagers in love. But real love takes hard work….let’s hope the IT and Marketing teams are up to the effort to turn this new-found puppy love into a real, long term relationship.

Image Credit: Love ? I love love love you. By doug88888 on flickr

Learning from those who ‘did’

chips reading the star wars incredible cross-sections book to nick - _MG_9778 on flickrLast night, I watched Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show on the Travel Channel. I’m a fan of Mr. Bourdain’s…I read (actually listened) to Kitchen Confidential (amazon affiliate link) and really enjoyed it.

I’ve watched many of the No Reservations episodes and have always come away from each show with some new-found piece of of knowledge and/or appreciation about a new part of the world.   Anthony does great work on No Reservations.

The episode last night was different than usual.  The episode, titled “Into the Fire“, places Bourdain back on the cooking ‘line’ in his old kitchen as a cook.  No longer is Tony the ‘Executive Chef’…he’s a line cook responsible for delivering many (many) dishes throughout the lunch and dinner shifts.

Throughout the episode, Bourdain is able to keep up but you can tell he’s not quite up to par as he was when he was a younger chef working the line.  It was obvious that he was out of practice as he was scrambling around trying to find ingredients and pans and trying to remember what orders he had ready or not ready.

It was an excellent episode.

For one, it showed just how tough it really is to be a line cook.

But even more importantly, to me, was the fact that Bourdain, a well-respected chef, author and TV personality, had trouble doing a job that he used to be able to do extremely well (according to him).

Now….given enough time, I’m sure Bourdain could get back up to speed as a line cook but the point is – he couldn’t just waltz in after years of not being a line cook and be a good line cook.

I have a point. I really do. Read on….

Tony used to be a good line cook. In fact, he used to be a great line cook (he says…and I believe him).

But…he stepped off the line years ago to be an Executive Chef. He’s been making menus, ensuring there are enough supplies to run the restaurant, etc etc.  He’s even stepped away from that job lately and has been a TV star and author.

So…what made him think he could step into the line and be a cook again? I’m sure part of it was for TV…and it made a really good TV show.  But…I wonder if he thought that he really could step in and be as good as he used to be?

That said…if Tony stepped into any kitchen in the world and told the line cooks how to do their jobs better, wouldn’t those line cooks listen?  I’m sure some would see him as some ‘old dude’ and not pay attention, but the smart cooks will pay attention and try to learn from that ‘old’ dude.

Regardless of whether Bourdain can still cut it as a line cook, he’s still someone worth listening to, no?  He still has a great deal of experience and can provide some great insights that might help a young line cook in their career.

So what’s the takeaway from my rambling?

How many times have you been in a meeting and the CEO, CIO, VP or even a senior IT professional try to step into your role and tell you ‘how things should be done’?

In many instances, I see eyes role or glaze over. I see the ‘young’ IT professionals snicker and joke around about how things are different now in 2011 (or whatever year it is).  Maybe there’s an age different between you and the CIO or older IT pro’s, but they’ve been in your role and have seen most of the things you’ve seen.

Just like Tony had a hard time stepping back into a line cook role, a CIO might have a hard time stepping into the role of a Systems Administrator – but that doesn’t mean her insights and experience aren’t valuable.

Learning from those who ‘did’ or ‘used to do’ is important.

Just because someone isn’t doing a role any more doesn’t mean they aren’t worth learning from.

Image Credit: chips reading the star wars incredible cross-sections book to nick – _MG_9778 on flickr