Roundtable: Strategic Manoeuvres

Roundtable: Strategic Manoeuvres

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

What measurements do you use to ensure that IM/IT contributes to the success of the business?

KALIA: We could develop a cottage industry around measuring the effectiveness of IT. It's kind of a futile exercise and it's really academic. In our case the measurement is the achievement of the business goals that we set out to implement. I don't look for any unique targets. If we sign up to increase revenues by eight percent this year, or if we want to go into a new market or launch some new products, that's how we're measured; we either did it or we didn't. The IT staff share in those targets and in the rewards that come from achieving those targets, or share in the lack of rewards for missing them. I don't believe in any separate measures for our IT staff.

What are some of the new information technologies in your industry that will have an impact on your enterprise strategic plan?

WILLIAMS: At Staples in Canada we're continuing the drive to in-store self-service, which is really about improving the experience of the customer in the store, through either self-checkout or some kind of self-service kiosk. We're also using technology to optimize labour usage in the store. One technology that we're using right now we call Video Agent, which provides remote two-way video conference capabilities between a remote store person and a kiosk in the store. We're using that to provide a service for the customer where otherwise there would be nothing, simply because we can't offer staff.

KENT: We're exploring and beginning to use new technologies to upgrade the reserved seating and VIP experience of our business. Some of these types of locations are big in Europe and around the rest of the world but not in North America. Going along with these concepts are things like print-at-home ticketing, better Web ticketing, and wireless technologies within the theatre to self-serve customers so that they can proceed to their seats as soon as they enter the lobby. To a certain extent we're also using new technologies to manage workforce time and attendance. We recognize that the majority of our workers are young and very technically savvy and we need to put technology in place that they will embrace, and make sure that they use it do such things as check their schedules. Finally, our whole industry is changing from film to digital projection, and there's a lot of new technology ramping up around getting the digital print down to new locations.

How important is it to be seen by your peers as a business manager? If this is important, what do you do to ensure and enhance this perception?

KALIA: It's not negotiable anymore. I think you are a business manager or you're not a CIO. It's just expected.

WOOD: I'm with Kumud; it's not negotiable. It is fundamental that you are seen as a business leader first and foremost. Technology is a component by which we enable the business; but if you're seen as a technologist you'll end up being seen only as a supplier of service to the organization and as a commodity for that service. To help improve the perception of me as a business manager, I've gotten my insurance qualifications. A number of us within IT saw this as a fundamental step in helping with alignment and ensuring that we understood the challenges that the organization was facing. It has enabled us to be treated as equals and as partners to the organization which in turn has helped us significantly.

What advice would you give to your CIO colleagues around adding value to the enterprise and its strategic planning processes?

GILL: Building and establishing business credibility is essential. You won't add value to the process if you're not a valued contributor, and you need business credibility to do that. We also need to find more ways to say yes to new ideas and look at what we can do to help lead change more frequently.

WILLIAMS: Testing innovations internally but cheaply is extremely important. If you go off trying things and spending a lot of money, you're going to get stopped. But if you do things inexpensively with your industry or vendor partners, who are interested in seeing if something works, then that's a very successful thing to do. I also believe that letting people experience something is a hundred times better than just telling them. So arranging demonstrations of things that could have a use in your business is very important.

WOOD: We have to be leading innovation, leading change, and whilst I agree some of it needs to be well thought through and rational in terms of the way the business is transacted today, we also have to push the envelope. I believe it is our responsibility to do that and to see just where the edge is; where the boundary is and at which point you get rejected. We have to try to offer more ways of being able to provide solutions, and not be stuck in hard and fast more traditional processes.

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