Roundtable: Strategic Manoeuvres

Roundtable: Strategic Manoeuvres

Highlights from CIO Canada's spring roundtable on the CIO's role in enterprise strategic planning.

How do you cascade understanding of the enterprise strategic plan to your IM/IT management team so that the IM/IT planning process supports the enterprise strategic plan?

GILL: I've always found that alignment works best when it's based on more than just communication. There needs to be alignment through incentives and rewards, and through your operational tracking and scorecards. At CDS, we use all three of those techniques to try to make sure that the people in IT are properly aligned to the strategic initiatives. We have a set of divisional objectives that are aligned with our compensation system - our reward system. We also have individual objectives that each person is aligned to and rewarded upon. We have a balanced scorecard that we share throughout the organization that tracks our performance on our key strategic items and we engage in quarterly communications to all staff to help reinforce that message over and over. Hopefully, with those three things, we can keep things aligned. But even with them, alignment is always a challenging task.

How do you see the role of the CIO changing in your organization within the next three to five years?

WILLIAMS: I'm a fan of Don Tapscott's idea of the transparent organization. I think that's something that is going to happen and evolve in the future. Part of that is using social media and part is letting your customers and business partners, and possibly even competitors, collaborate with you on problems and ideas. Because that approach is so technology based, it will mean that the CIO function is going continue to be important or even increase in importance. Another less radical application is to take the idea of the transparent organization and apply it to the functional silos within the enterprise. If you're not ready to publish your corporate secrets out to the whole world, at least you can start to make sure the different functional areas understand each other and have access to each other's data and processes in order to be more efficient.

WOOD: I see the strategic role of the CIO expanding dramatically over the next three to five years. I believe that within our organization, my sphere of influence will grow. I see an increasing number of initiatives on the table, all of which have a technology component to them. More and more, we are looking for new channels to deliver product, or we are looking to remove cost or create capacity - all of those things have technology components. The expectation is that we can respond to these needs with increasing speed and reduced costs.

KALIA: I've viewed myself as the chief process officer in the company for the last couple of years. Looking at leveraging and designing streamlined business processes allows a lot of cost optimization through the company, and a lot of systems and data rationalization as well, so I think that's quite key. I can see a lot of overlap between IT and other operational functions - a blurring of that boundary between the systems guy and the process guy - because systems are really only processes automated, so those things go hand in hand. Some of the other things I've heard around the table - being a relationship manager, being a catalyst for innovation, and increasingly using the soft skills of persuasion and influence rather than a command and control approach - those are all things that I can connect with and say that they'll be a part of my role for the next three to five years.

KENT: I think the role will become more and more important but it is as a result of industry change as well. Our industry currently is going through pretty rapid change into a digital world with respect to the way a lot of the products are being delivered and in the way people get access to information and purchase their tickets to come to our venues. As a result, the business is becoming more complex and more technology is involved in every step of the business model. Therefore the IT role within the organization will continue to expand.

GILL: Having a really solid view of cross-organizational business processes and how they can not only be streamlined internally but also interconnected between organizations is going to be a shift that we'll all need to make as CIOs. The internal efficiency focus for sure will continue to be important, but the understanding of processes that you can leverage and connect to within other organizations - within your vendor supply chain or your customers' offices - is going to become, I think, the next level for us as architects of how business gets done.

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