Blogs & Articles

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011

The CEO’s (Unused) Secret Weapon

Why your company isn’t keeping up with the other guys


I enjoy reading Stephen Duplessie’s blog, “The Bigger Truth,” as I find he always has keen insight into what’s happening in the tech world.  His recent article entitled “Grow up! The new world of managing IT Stuff” really hit home (read it here  A comment in response to Stephen’s blog accurately captured the essence of his message – “You need to become the architect of the outcome, not the guy who fixes the leak.”


Put another way, the CTOs and IT Managers of the world need to focus on delivering strategic value instead of spending their precious time putting out fires.  So why aren’t they?  It’s not like they didn’t learn the “strategic value of IT” while at College.


I’ll tell you why, and my view stems from founding and running an IT Management Outsourcing firm for over 15 years, prior to my current position.  In my former role, I met regularly with the Presidents, CEOs and MD’s of our clients, who were mainly in the professional services, financial and legal sectors of the SME space.  Effectively, I was their CTO, with my staff members playing the role of IT managers at these companies, and here’s what I concluded:


Most CEOs see tech resources as plumbers, not architects, and as a result the senior IT staff

often aren’t given a seat at the executive table – the place where strategic decisions occur.


Smart companies and smart CEOs understand the value of IT personnel, inviting them to participate at the strategic level, and in so doing allowing them to deliver the value inherent in technology – particularly emerging technology.  They recognize that technology actually becomes a strategic differentiator to their organization.


Did you ever wonder why Walmart became the dominant force it is today when there were so many good, storied companies it had to overtake to secure its market-leading position?  The reason that I most relate to is that in the mid-80s when EDI and Just-in-time Inventory (JIT) as well as bar-coding were off the radar for many companies, Walmart grabbed on to these emerging technologies and ran with them.  The company exploded as these new technologies helped to drive down costs, control inventory and improve cash flows – quickly helping to render Walmart the lowest cost provider in the market by a mile.  The rest, as they say, is history.


Sam Walton was clearly listening to the right people: his IT staff, or rather, his “Secret Weapon”. Walton put to use the recommendations and inherent knowledge of his team, thereby creating a strategic differentiator for Walmart, company wide.


Today, we’re at the beginning of another widespread and significant technology advancement called The Cloud, and opportunities abound within it. Not just for obtaining better “plumbing”, but for securing Cloud-based services that can and will deliver strategic value to your business.  Services and capabilities that were once out of reach of many organizations, but that are now being defined as strategic differentiators.


So, if you’re one of those CEOs who leaves your head IT resource in the hallway while the Exec team meets to discuss strategy, I suggest you change your ways and make room for them at your boardroom table.  Listen to what they have to say, and my bet is that very soon you’ll have a “secret weapon” as part of your team.


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