CIOs often yearn for new worlds to conquer. For many, the first step on that journey is to earn the right to manage a P&L. In order to achieve that goal, executives listen to their external customers, engage with the business, focus on innovation and look for new revenue opportunities. These CIOs build new business models and sell them to their CEOs. In return, they receive the keys to P&L management.
But getting a job and then keeping it are often two different affairs. For those of you who now find yourself in charge of a revenue line, it is time you started thinking about how to manage your new business. To help you prepare for this next stage of your career, I spoke to three CIOs who simultaneously managed IT and a line of revenue about what it takes to be successful at both.
In 1997, Steve Holt joined auto parts manufacturer Accuride as director of IT. He became CIO in 2002. In 2004, Holt recognized that the company would benefit from an enterprise-wide strategic planning function, so the company's president added the title VP of strategic management to his CIO role.
Once in that role, Holt investigated new revenue ideas for the company. One was a plan to work with independent engineers to develop new technologies and then offer them as new products to Accuride's customer base. In January 2007, he was formally given the reins to the new business and was promoted to SVP of strategy, growth and technology. In addition to running IT, Holt now manages a P&L and the functions (product development, sales and marketing) that will allow Accuride to commercialize new product technologies. His advice?
Let go of IT. Chances are, your first P&L management role will take place during your CIO reign since the company for whom you have delivered first-rate IT service is more likely than a brand-new organization to take a chance on your revenue management skills. While you might be tempted to maintain the same level of IT oversight as before, you will have to let go if you're going to give your new business the attention it deserves.
"I let go of IT immediately," says Holt. "I had people ready to continue the good work of our IT function while I focused on my new responsibilities. In order to do more, you have to let someone step into the void you create. If you attempt to maintain the same grip on IT, you will fail."
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