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Integrating the enterprise and fueling innovation

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Mark Hennessy the CIO from IBM presented on his perspective on the changing role of the CIO. An IBM survey in 2005 found that of CEOs 80% thought IT had to be aligned to be successful but only 45% thought this was something they did well. More recent surveys showed CIOs feeling that this was improving but was still a challenge. This year’s survey found that around 70% of CEOs said they expected a significant change in business models or markets in the very short term. Within IBM two of the key themes were integrating the enterprise and driving innovation.

IBM has a number of global business units and a shared IT organization that was created to drive down costs. However, it could not have done this without being linked to the business units, in this case through a group of business transformation executives. More recently IBM has become focused on global integration of its business and used a set of business processes to drive this integration. They prioritized simplification and best of breed design before automation and identified a set of process transformation executives to lead this. A strong program management office and governance process is essential as is senior executive sponsorship. A set of business value metrics was created by the process transformation executives to establish the objectives for each process.

Innovation was the other objective for IT and for the CIO. Within IBM, as in many large organizations, there are four generations of workers from traditionalists nearing retirement, to boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. These groups have different management, feedback, communication, learning and technology styles. Add to this the layer of cultures inherent in a global business and the challenges of collaboration and innovation become clear. To drive innovation IBM uses a mix of web 2.0 technologies. They have 10,000 blogs inside IBM, a number of social networking sites and 15,000 wikis used by 200,000 people (about half the company) for everything from post sales technical support to global program development. They have ThinkPlace for ideas and idea discussion/collaboration and their Jams (time limited events on a topic). They have a technology sandbox for people to try ideas and expose them to early adopters and a program to bring research, technology and clients together to develop a version 1. The whole thing is a process – from ideas to prototype to trials and ultimately the market. This whole environment has metrics and measurement to see what works and what doesn’t.

On top of all this stability of the infrastructure, rapid development of applications, portfolio management, risk management and staffing are also important.

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