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Accenture CIO Modruson Is Not Just Putting Out Fires

Accenture CIO Modruson Is Not Just Putting Out Fires

Accenture CIO Frank Modruson is surrounded by IT experts, but the part-time firefighter still finds time to think about new approaches to collaboration

Being an IT leader is tough enough at the best of times, but what do you do when your company is stacked with IT experts? 'Make the most of it' would appear to be the attitude of Frank Modruson, CIO of Accenture, one of the world's biggest management consulting, technology services and outsourcing companies.

"It's interesting: there are 180,000 experts on my job here," he quips, referring to the total size of Accenture's workforce. He also has 3500 staff working for him. "That leads to feedback and scrutiny, and that's good. The educated consumer puts you in good stead. They challenge you as long as you're willing to try things. I get to leverage this capability."

That feedback can lead to some unforeseen insights taking place.

"It's wonderful when people point out the forest from the trees," Modruson says, speaking by phone from his Chicago office. "The other day I said to somebody 'Have you seen the new printers?' He said: 'I don't print so I haven't used them yet. We have no business transactions that require paper. We can just look at [documents] on a PC'."

Americans like to talk about 'eating their own dog food' as a metaphor for consuming their own products and services, and Accenture is no exception.

"All of our advice is applicable to us. We're a large customer of Accenture ourselves and we use the Global Delivery Network [a collection of experts and facilities for developing consistent methodologies, tools and architectures] for outsourcing."

He is also a big advocate of the kinds of metrics consulting firms like to apply in order to demonstrate IT value. The old chestnut of the business says that if the automotive industry had developed as fast as computers we'd all be driving US$25 cars that provided 1000 miles per gallon. Even if the current trend is not inclining quite so sharply, Modruson feels his company is still getting exponentially better value than in the past.

"If I look at the base metrics, we have better technology for less money than in 2001. We spent fewer dollars in 2008 than in 2001 to support a company with twice the people and almost double the revenues, and the feedback is that we're better."

But what of Modruson's current big projects? A major focus for Accenture's IT today surrounds what he calls "Collaboration 2.0" and involves a hefty component of concepts taken from social networking tools and then applied within the Accenture firewall to ensure security.

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