Dell's CIO talks global focus, implenting new systems

Dell's CIO talks global focus, implenting new systems

How his new strategy has saved $260 million in IT costs

Dell CIO, Robin Johnson

Dell CIO, Robin Johnson

Maintaining a focus on the role that technology plays in business is key for Dell CIO, Robin Johnson.

Speaking exclusively to CIO Australia, Johnson said his success can be attributed to his good business sense rather than his IT background.

“I’ve been in the role for two years and how did I get there? The intuitive answer is that I’ve got a good relationship with the business, the ability to talk to the business and a reasonable technology understanding,” he said.

“There are lots of fantastic technologists and we need those, but I haven’t seen so many fantastic technologists who can talk business and understand business and convert those priorities.”

When asked whether being CIO of an international company posed particular challenges, Johnson said he preferred to view Dell as a global organisation dealing with the same technology.

“How do you deal with it internationally? Frankly I don’t think you can afford to think about it internationally – you have to think about it globally and the logic behind that is that technology really isn’t different from one country to another,” he said.

“I think about it as a global organisation with global operations and everything I have to deliver has to operate in all of our territories.”

While he is working on a variety of projects, Johnson said these can be divided into four categories of reinventing the supply chain, the redefinition of Dell’s online presence, a push into the services and solutions side of the business, and rationalising the core of business.

“It’s about implementing new systems; it’s not an IT-led project and IT didn’t dictate the answers, but it’s rolling out best of breed applications globally in all our domains,” he said.

“…It’s thrown off, in IT terms, about $260 million of savings so far. It’s standardising our business process across the world.”

As well as standardising its business processes, Johnson said Dell has developed an overarching device policy for its staff members.

“We’re going to roll out our internal devices to the employee base starting now,” he said.

“I’d say we don’t really have a phone strategy; we have a computer in your car strategy…what I’ve really got to do with those things is enable the productivity of downloading the apps and managing email.”

When asked what advice he would give to other CIOs, Johnson said to avoid being bogged down in the details.

“I think the big thing is to not get yourself tied up on ‘I do this, that or the other’,” he said. “The big thing is make sure you get enough listening posts.”

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