How can CIOs use innovation to position IT as a business driver?
Our Global Business Services (GBS) group strives continuously to transform the way business is done through more than IT services -- we provide business solutions. Technology is both a commodity and a competitive advantage, not one or the other. More now than even three or four years ago, a lot of the breakthroughs in business and business models are technology-enabled. Our goal in GBS is to deliver the "and" -- scale and agility, savings and quality services, innovation and operational excellence.
Innovation is our lifeblood and helps provide that agility. We believe that innovation arises from integrating what is needed and what is possible. When we need to enhance business models or processes, we innovate in how we apply technology as a solution.
For example, our focus group product evaluations are essential, but it has always taken days or weeks to test consumers' reactions to a product in a physical store situation. Using virtualisation, we can quickly and cheaply provide multiple mock-ups of any product in any environment, thereby cutting the evaluation cycle to a fraction of its previous length. This speeds time to market, saves money, reduces our environmental impact and better serves our customers.
Part of finding the right opportunities for differentiation through innovation is constantly evaluating how new technologies can make business processes and services better. We do some of this at the highest, companywide levels, identifying common needs that can be solved by innovative solutions.
One critical breakthrough for the business that technology made possible has come through our creation of "decision cockpits." Before, information was only available in a multitude of reports, forcing leaders to spend important time and resources to compile data before making a decision. Now, real-time business data from across the company is available to all decision makers in one location.
I also have client managers embedded in the leadership teams of the business units in order to ensure GBS stays relevant and aligned. They are IT professionals with a passion for business and a strong interest in technology. They contribute to P&G's vision by bringing the GBS solutions into business, and sharing the business's goals and challenges for new growth opportunities.
Filippo Passerini is president of Global Business Services and CIO at Procter & Gamble, and a member of the CIO Executive Council.
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