Lesson this CIO learned from a software installation gone bad: Speak up!

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 7, 2011

3 Min Read

Career Track

Scott Zimmerman CIO, CenterPoint Properties

Scott Zimmerman
CIO, CenterPoint Properties

How long at CenterPoint Properties: I've been at this investor, developer, and owner of industrial real estate and transportation-related infrastructure for 14 years.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Several years ago, our firm went private. At the 11th hour, one of the buyer's advisers started to have doubts that CenterPoint could achieve its objectives with so few employees. We argued that we had invested heavily in systems and processes and could "do more with less," but he wasn't sold. Knowing that the IT team had recently finished developing an enterprise platform to make us more efficient, our CEO called the team into the board meeting to show how powerful the platform was. The demo went well and the system convinced everyone that we had the tools in hand to operate efficiently.

Most important career influencer: Our new CEO, Paul Fisher. When I started here many years ago, I was a relatively young CIO and Paul was our CFO. He taught me that presenting an idea in a manner that can be understood by decision makers is just as important as the idea itself.

Decision I wish I could do over: Years ago, our company was looking for a new ERP package. The team favored a system that looked good on the surface, but really didn't fit well. I identified the shortcomings and recommended something else, but being new, I didn't want to rock the boat too much. We wound up selecting the wrong product and eventually had to pull the plug. Luckily, we didn't lose too much money, but we wasted a lot of time. From this, I learned to (tactfully) fight hard for the things I truly believe in.

On The Job

IT budget: $3.5 million

Size of IT team: Eight employees

Top initiatives:

  • Finishing our mobile platform to deliver additional services to field personnel.

  • Using additional functionality within SharePoint to increase collaboration among departments.


The next big thing for my industry will be mobile analytics. Business leaders need better information to make quicker decisions, regardless of location.

One thing I'm looking to do better: We need to improve our responsiveness. With the increased tech experience of our new workers, the requests and ideas are coming in faster and faster. We need to ensure we can meet these needs in the years to come.

The federal government's top tech priority should be ... reliable, pervasive, and robust broadband wireless access. It's the key infrastructure component for our increasingly mobile service economy and will spark innovation.


Colleges/degrees: Loyola University, BA in business administration; DePaul University, MIS

Leisure activities: Playing piano

Favorite president: John Adams, who was thoughtful, principled, continuously educated himself, felt honor-bound to serve his fellow man, and saw his wife as an equal partner

Best book read recently: The Greater Journey: Americans In Paris, by David McCullough

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a college professor

Ranked No. 24 in the 2011 InformationWeek 500

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