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If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a network to grow a business.

Forward-thinking IT leaders are increasingly tapping into the expertise of the TBM Council as the network to leverage to take their organization to the next level, whether they’re seeking to communicate IT’s value to the business, optimize IT costs and investments, plan efficiently and accurately, or transform the IT operating model. And there’s no better chance for you to join forces with the TBM Council than to attend the TBM Conference 2015, October 26-29 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

The TBM Conference is only event where this elite community of innovators, experts, and pragmatists come together to learn and share applied lessons, tactical skills, and proven best practices to manage the business of IT. Don’t miss your chance to collaborate and explore what’s new, what’s possible, and what’s next for IT’s most pressing challenges – register now!

Must-see Speaker Lineup

This year’s event – designed to empower attendees with the collective ideas, tools, and networking opportunities that are only possible through the TBM Council – will feature more than 50 CIO speakers from enterprise organizations. Keynote speakers this year include ExxonMobil’s CIO Mike Brown and Microsoft’s CIO Jim DuBois, and there will be more inspiring presentations from IT executives at organizations like Merck & Co., SunTrust, AOL, Apptio, and many more.

Passionate IT leaders who are interested in presenting on a TBM topic during this year’s event are encouraged to submit an abstract or topic idea. Elevate yourself and your organization by sharing your knowledge and expertise, while helping to shape the evolution of the TBM discipline.

Should You Attend?

Senior IT and finance leaders from Global 2000 organizations will get the most benefit from the TBM Conference. Infrastructure and operations leaders, CIOs and CTOs can look forward to sessions on IT services transformation, CIO key performance indicators and metrics, vendor billing standardization, financial transparency, funding innovation budgeting and planning, communicating tradeoffs, optimizing costs, benchmarking, infrastructure strategies, application rationalization, and many more.

There will be tons of great content for senior finance professionals too, including sessions on the CFO of IT competency model, financial transparency, benchmarking, M&A best practices, budgeting and planning, total cost of apps and services, IT services portfolio, optimizing costs, and economic trends impacting IT, including the financial benefits of cloud, shifting to a more variable cost structure, and reducing unit costs over time. If you are a CFO, CFO of IT or finance manager, you won’t want to miss this event.

Stay tuned for more information on the full speaker lineup and agenda. In the meantime, be sure to register now to get the early bird rate, which ends June 26. And bring your whole team for a 20% discount (for teams of seven or more).

I'm thrilled to announce that nominations are now open for the third-annual TBM Awards. These awards, driven by the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council, honor IT and finance leaders for their ingenuity, creativity, and contribution to the TBM discipline.

You can submit your nomination for an IT or finance leader, or an organization for recognition. But hurry - the TBM Council will be accepting submissions through June 28, 2015.

What are the TBM Awards?

TBM is a methodology and discipline for managing the business of IT. These awards recognize the profound impact that these technology leaders have on their organization by empowering operational excellence, business innovation, business transformation, and TBM best practices.

The TBM Awards were established to recognize strategic and operational excellence in five distinct areas:

  • Business Innovation: Recognizing CIOs, CTOs and CFOs who help their technology organizations drive or empower business innovation.
  • Infrastructure Trailblazing: Celebrating CTOs and/or SVPs of Infrastructure who have leveraged infrastructure engineering for a new level of business results.
  • IT Services Transformation: Honoring CIOs and other executives who have transformed IT from a technology-focused, order-taking organization into a strategic business partner that brings the value of IT to the business.
  • CFO of IT Excellence: Recognizing finance leaders with IT responsibilities who drive an IT financial strategy that matches the demands of the organization.
  • TBM Championship: Commending leaders who champion TBM initiatives, institutionalizing it as a methodology and functional role within their organizations.

Expert Panel of Judges

Winners will be highlighted during the TBM Conference 2015 on October 27 at the historic Field Museum in Chicago. Entries will be evaluated by a committee of industry-leading technologists in both academia and business. This year's judging panel includes:

  • Todd Tucker, General Manager, TBM Council
  • George Westerman, Research Scientist, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy
  • Martha Heller, President, Heller Search Associates
  • Carl Stumpf, Managing Director, CME Group
  • Alex Mueller-Herbst, Partner, ISG

Each year, we are blown away by the level of innovation and creativity Council members demonstrate through their application of the TBM discipline. I encourage you to nominate technology leaders that have demonstrated success in the award areas and seize the opportunity to be recognized among industry leaders and peers!

IT is a Strategic Weapon

Posted by laplaine Jun 18, 2015

[Note: This article was originally posted to Mental Effort on January 5, 2015.]


Change is afoot.


In a twelve part series I’m going to discuss transforming IT into a catalyst for driving business improvements. I will share my views and approach to this transformation. Topics I’ll cover include: the IT tribe I have been building, the steps I’m taking to change culture, and why a transparent financial model of IT is essential.


It all starts with a simple premise that IT is a strategic weapon. One that should be leveraged for competitive advantage, efficiency, and enable product and service excellence. Technology is not a “means to an end”, it is an essential part of producing, delivering, and consuming products and services. If you produce or consume digital content, IT is both on the critical path and the service offering.


Photo Credits: Chad Horwedel



In 1998 I had the opportunity to fly in this B-17, Aluminum Overcast, one of only 12 air worthy B-17’s left in the world. I’ve been using this photo and caption in presentations to my staff as a symbol of building a strategic weapon for the past 18 months.

The later half of the 20th century brought about the Digital Revolution with the proliferation of the personal computer, the Internet, mobile devices, and cloud computing. Today we live in an economy dominated by digital information and automation. Every industry is being shaped by the Information Age, and every Information Technology (IT) shop needs to update their approach to managing in this era. To stay competitive, progressive thinking technology leaders are adjusting their approach to IT, managing technology like a business versus operating like a traditional cost center.To be successful in this modern age, an IT leader will need to address:


  • Culture: What does this digital shift mean to the IT staff? How do the other business units interact with IT when it is run as a business unit? How do you garner executive support?  How do you address the stereotypical cost center connotation? What happens to your own job?


  • Language: IT leaders need to talk less about technology and more about business. You must understand and speak in financial terms. You need to learn about product management. You need to interact face-to-face with the real customers (the one’s who are sending money to your company, not other internal business units).


  • Transparency: Be open about poor services, deficiencies in procedures, outages and problems to address. Talk about what your doing to fix these things. Share operating costs. Share operating metrics.


  • Technology Trends: What are competitors doing? What is your cloud strategy? [Don’t have one? I bet your internal consumers of IT do (it might be wrong, but they have thoughts here if you don’t )]. What are the disruptive technologies you should be researching?


  • Blocking and Tackling: To be allowed to be transformative, you must get the blocking and tackling covered. If you have chronic outages, capacity shortages, missing alarms, and too many human mistakes, you must address these as priority one. A foundation of operational excellence is required to act as a catalyst for change to rest of the company. Ignoring these issues will allow misdirection to derail your efforts.


  • Vision:  When I ask leaders about their IT roadmap the answers generally fall into two broad categories:
    • No roadmaps exists for our products or services from the GMs and business units, so IT is primarily in reactive mode
    • IT goals are all related to supporting the plans of others, a subservient role in the organization


In my view, technology leaders who are unwilling or fail to address these categories, jeopardize their positions and their companies and will be overtaken by companies with IT leadership that are champions for this modern approach to IT.

In the next post I’ll discuss Technology Business Management, a mindset for formalizing the approach to running Information Technology like a business.


James LaPlaine is the SVP, Technology Operations at AOL. You can follow James on his blog Mental Effort and on twitter @JamesLaPlaine.


In a twelve part series about IT business transformation, James explores the need for the modern technology leader to be a catalyst for change, leverage IT value as a corporate strategic weapon, and lead the way for complete financial transparency. Utilizing this approach, today's technology leader can provide the foundation for the company to build better products and services and gain approval for technology led initiatives that often struggle for executive support and funding.

Data-driven culture is a hot topic. As I was writing my previous post, I came across another article on the topic entitled, "Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock calls for 'data culture' across government." The article describes how UK Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock has called for a “data culture” across government to help make better decisions on where best to spend money on an austerity budget.


Using data to make better decisions on where best to spend money on an austerity budget...sound familiar? It does to us, as it's a popular theme with CIOs who have adopted TBM. During the great recession, most IT budgets were cut, leading many CIOs to use TBM as a way to cut with a scalpel instead of a chain saw.


Even though the economy has improved, IT budgets remain austere. But there is a strong emphasis on improving value and investing wisely to create growth, improve customer retention or cut operational costs. The UK article hints at ways that IT leaders also can do this:


Hancock said the government is adopting an “invest to save” approach, where money is spent only if it delivers savings. He said using big data and data science is critical to making sure the money is spent effectively.


“To have an effective invest-to-save proposition, it’s critical the data demonstrates you’re going to get the savings. This is one of the really exciting opportunities for the use of big data that unlocks these sorts of propositions. You can be much more scientific using data science on the likelihood of how you get success,” he said.


While TBM might not qualify as "big data," it certainly exploits data to make similar types of decisions. TBM integrates costs with the consumption of resources, applications, and services, and often marries those facts with quality metrics. This unique combination helps businesses decide where to save and where to invest.


For an example of this data-driven decision making, Carl Stumpf and his team at CME Group partnered with his tech leaders to use these metrics (e.g., cost, utilization, consumption, satisfaction) to change the way they manage peak demand. Watch him tell the story in this 2014 TBM Award video:



We'd love to hear how others have used TBM to create a data-driven culture. What's the best way to do that? Submit for a TBM Award! If you're a finalist, we'll help you tell your story to the rest of the TBM Council community.

In a recent CSC World article entitled "6 Survival Strategies for CIOs," CTO Dan Hushon writes that CIOs should make data-driven decisions not just about the business but about IT:


"Many firms say they are data driven, but their big data projects focus on customer acquisition. How many perform deep analytics and root cause analysis on their core systems, for continuous improvement? As CIO, you need to put the right metrics behind your progression toward innovation.


"Create a culture that holds itself to a quantitative discipline and establish relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, your goal might be: This year, we’ll spend 30 percent of our time and budget doing something new. If you establish such a goal and can produce results on your investments in innovation, more funding will follow."


This reminds me of an often overlooked fact of TBM: it helps improve data, but not just for managing the business of IT. Instead, by putting dollar amounts on all sorts of data, such as IT assets, CMDB, user entitlements, time tracking, personnel records, utilization data, incidents and more, TBM helps IT improve the overall quality of management data. This has benefits far beyond traditional TBM use cases.


I'll give you an example. One of our Oil & Gas CIO members recently told me how TBM helped improve their user entitlement data. His team discovered that by using entitlements to allocate application costs back to the business units, the business units took notice of their entitlement data. In turn, they helped fix the entitlement errors, such as records that weren't updated after an employee transfer or termination. As a result, the company arguably reduced its risk, improved compliance and made it easier to manage software licenses.


In another example, a Fortune 500 insurance provider CIO found that TBM helped them prioritize their data quality work. By putting a dollar figure on their data, they discovered where to focus. Instead of focusing on data quality problems that represented smaller costs, they focused on those that represented the bigger costs. As it turns out, the bigger costs also represented their most important business applications, assets and labor pools.


Many CIOs tell us their data is bad. They believe this inhibits TBM. But it also inhibits being a data-driven IT organization. No IT leader should think that improving data quality is a TBM problem; it's an IT management problem, and one that impacts IT's ability to deliver efficient and reliable services. TBM helps overcome the IT data quality problem in more ways than one, while providing the more direct benefits associated with TBM.


In our metrics work, we've hypothesized that TBM data quality is an indicator of IT transformation. IT organizations that are well managed, highly automated and data-driven will have good data. In turn, their CIOs foster a data-driven culture. We believe this is more than just a survival skill; executives like Rebecca Jacoby at Cisco, Larry Godec at First American, James LaPlaine at Aol, Debra Bailey at Nationwide Building Society, Carl Stumpf at CME Group and many others use data to thrive in their roles by making a difference for their businesses.

The second European TBM Summit drew a stellar line-up of IT executives from the world’s largest brands including The Coca-Cola Company, Shell International, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Nationwide Building Society, AXA Investment Managers, Royal Sun Alliance, Citrix and Gazprom Marketing & Trading to London’s stunning Institution of Civil Engineers and Westminster Abbey. An audience comprising over 200 of the most senior IT decision-makers in Europe were treated to a feast of world-class thought leadership delivered by those best qualified to do so, their peers. The slideshow below captures moments from this amazing event.

Delegates heard how and why Technology Business Management was driving wholesale strategic change, some frank discussion on bringing boards along on the strategic journey to TBM and details on the upside for organizations using the transparency of TBM to drive competitive advantage. For those, unable to join on the day, here are some of the highlights:

  • TBM Council President Chris Pick, kicked off proceedings by reiterating the three TBM Council mandates; to educate, build standards and foster collaboration and peer networking. He also announced how key deliverables like the TBM framework, the TBM Index and TBM taxonomy and more were all now available on the new TBM Connect online community.
  • Nationwide Building Society CIO Debra Bailey deployed TBM to support a service and digital transformation. With TBM, Debra has delivered a cost-optimized and tiered service catalogue to give her business partners real choices. TBM enables a more effective supply chain for her as well as a commercial view of innovation spending. Lesson: TBM accelerates service transformation.
  • AXA Investments Managers CIO Hervé Morel-Derocle employs TBM to create an integrated ecosystem for managing all of the business. TBM has also facilitated a culture of shared responsibility on cost and driven teaming across the business. Lesson: TBM helps change the culture to be cost-conscious.
  • Shell Global IT4IT and Cost Performance Improvement Manager Mary Jarrett is driving IT cost optimization and making TBM sustainable based on business outcomes. Lesson: TBM is a long-term initiative with significant gains along the way.
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch Managing Director Mohit Sarvaiya leveraged TBM to power the bank’s cost improvement initiatives of expense management, volume reduction and IT service delivery. Lesson: TBM helps optimize costs after major business events, such as economic downturns and M&As.

The afternoon breakout sessions provided more in-depth exploration of the practicalities of TBM with sessions on IT Planning, operationalizing TBM within the organization and making it “the new normal”. For those of you interested in our standards-related work, I shared an update on the CIO Business-Value Metrics.

And of course, what started at TBM Conference 2014 and is fast becoming a tradition for TBM Council events, we held a series of PechaKucha-style presentations covering key TBM areas including data, the Apptio TBM Unified Model (ATUM), saving costs without stifling innovation and more.

Apptio CEO Sunny Gupta moderated a panel on Transforming IT for Business Growth with senior IT and Procurement leaders from Gazprom CIO Rob Pringle, RSA Insurance Chief Procurement Officer Andrew Cameron and Citrix VP of Infrastructure & Service Delivery Martin Kelly. They all shared why TBM was important for their businesses, and the importance of getting started no matter how mature your IT organization is.

Discussions continued in the thirteenth century Cloisters of Westminster Abbey, where attendees representing the leading lights in the fast-evolving world of TBM, reflected just how pervasive TBM has become in just 12 months.

I want to once again thank our speakers, who did a wonderful job and are leading the TBM movement in Europe. And of course we couldn’t do this without our partners and sponsors like KPMG, ISG, Cherwell, Deloitte and Ellix. We look forward to seeing you all next year!