Leading through change is no easy feat, but innovative IT leaders are seizing the opportunity to apply Technology Business Management to not only manage change, but reposition IT as a strategic partner and business innovator.
The result is true business transformation, as we’ve heard from many CIOs over the last two days at the TBM Conference in Chicago.
“IT is shifting from being an order taker to being an originator of new ideas to win in the marketplace,” said Mike Brown, Vice President of Global Information Services at ExxonMobil. “As we look forward, this new partnership between IT and the business is crucial to propel the next level of investments.”
A New Vision
TBM has enabled ExxonMobil to deliver a new vision and roadmap for the energy giant, with some 78,000 employees and three integrated business lines. It began with building a foundation through understanding the total cost of IT services and applications, and IT spend by investment priority, and is now evolving to optimization efforts like benchmarking and understanding business consumption by business line.
“When we looked at how other companies were using IT and the consumerization of IT, it was clear we needed to rethink how we were using it in our company,” Brown said. “How we spend money and how we were organized was based on functions, but our customers aren’t buying functions – they are buying an end-to-end service – and our ability to communicate our cost structure in meaningful ways was held back by that structure. So we were missing the opportunity to have a value dialogue.”
But change rarely comes easy. At ExxonMobile, it required tremendous efforts around engaging employees in the change, and there were, predictably, challenges along the way.
“When I first started talking TBM, there was a tremendous amount of pushback,” Brown said, adding that having a TBM leader or champion is critical to success.
Cost transparency can be a scary – even threatening – initiative, so you can’t be truly effective without addressing the culture around IT costs, said Anil Cheriyan, Executive Vice President and CIO of SunTrust Banks.
The Culture Shift
“Here’s the core of the culture shift: we’re moving away from being a service to being a provider, moving from complex to simple, moving from reactive to proactive,” said Cheriyan. “You can’t think about innovation as this little organization on the side; it has to be from the ground up.”
There were important lessons learned about how to address the culture issue, including addressing resistance, gaining executive management buy-in upfront and early, and having a close partnership and common goals with the CFO and finance department. Keeping the focus on understanding IT cost transparency versus billing IT costs is also crucial to success, Cheriyan said.
And at some point along the way, you have to re-evaluate the role of the CIO itself.
“What is the CIO?” Cheriyan asked. “Is the CIO the main change agent? I don’t think we’re there yet, but that’s the direction we’re going.”