If you really want to know if a technology or business system works, don't ask anybody, ask a CIO. Your peers know all too well the pain of failure, but also the joy of success. Mykolas Rambus, CIO at publishing group Forbes is one CIO who is a keen advocate of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Rambus and a growing number of CIOs are discovering that PPM ticks business boxes, technology boxes and financial boxes as a software as a service offering.
Forbes is a household name in the US and is increasingly becoming a global brand as it expands in the UK, Europe and the Far East. Rambus has been CIO at the media company for a year and a half now and like all CIOs he knows that the current economic climate places him under increased scrutiny. But at the same time, he is relaxed and confident, because he knows that the clients of the Forbes company, no matter the state of the economy, need to reach the customers that Forbes can deliver. "Our advertisers are keen to reach influencers in the USA, C suite management, hedge fund managers and up and comers," he explains.
Forbes is 90 years old and is today a mixed business from its magazine beginnings, with major events and web based information services its primary growth areas. Its events for CEOs in Asia are proving particularly successful. "We are a digital business," he says of how the business has moved away from being purely a publishing house. "The challenge we face is how to create more value from the agencies and customers at the same time as delivering content to readers," Rambus says of the commercial model at Forbes. He displays that comfort with profits, customers and revenue that is a central part of American culture, even in creative sector like publishing.
Forbes is Rambus' first role in the publishing industry, having moved over from a career in management consultancy, IT and venture capitalists. "Publishing is less regulated, which is nice," he says of the most noticeable difference in sectors. On arriving at Forbes Rambus instantly wanted to look at how the IT department "was deployed as a unit".
"My first question was how are we deploying?" He said the budget he has is "not exploding", and having tried to discover how his department is benefiting the business he found he "couldn't get an insight in the projects that we were doing." This left blurred image in front of Rambus at his new desk and you don't have to spend long with the young CIO to know that he likes things to be crystal clear.
To clarify the situation, Rambus looked back into his career and decided to follow the same path as he had at W P Carey, a lease funds financing organization, where he had been CIO from 2002 to 2006. "We had a similar challenge at W P Carey." In 2002 the New York based Carey had been keeping track of its various IT projects using Excel spreadsheets. "We were building very complex Excel spreadsheets," he says.
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