Listen in as a CEO tries to understand a non-negotiable demand from a Global CIO his company is trying to recruit.

Bob Evans, Contributor

July 21, 2009

3 Min Read

"Second, as it currently stands, we spend 81% of the IT budget on internal operations, leaving less than 20 cents on the dollar for customer-facing projects. You've got my 3-page overview on that with some details, but the key point is this: no matter how many great ideas this company comes up with for products and services and customer engagement, we will always have to kill most of them because we simply won't have the money to fund them because too much of our IT budget is trapped inside our own old, brittle, and rigid systems and infrastructure. If we don't attack that 80/20 beast, we'll never have enough money to pursue externally oriented and customer-focused growth initiatives."

"And let me guess: as you liberate funds from internal operations to be used for customer-facing projects, you yourself will want to be spending time with customers so that you can know first-hand how our IT capabilities can help them be more successful and move faster and cut costs?"

"Ah, I knew there was another genius at this table! Yes indeed -- that's the premise. It's also where the third piece of this discussion comes in, and that's business processes and how we optimize them. Your company, Tom, has made some successes in interlacing operations and information with some suppliers and a few partners and even, somehow, a customer or two, but there's such enormous potential there! And that's where we've got to unite the IT transformation with customer requirements with business-process optimization.

"And if I'm not out in the market at least 25% of the time, and if I'm not an executive sponsor for a few of our top 25 global accounts, then I'll never be able to truly lead the IT transformation to its full potential, and our processes will be internally but not externally optimized. And that would make me feel like I've wasted your time and mine, and I don't want to do that. On the contrary -- I see enormous potential within this company and I'd love to be a part of where you're going, but the only way I can do that is if I'm really engaged with our customers so I can use that knowledge to tie all the pieces together."

"Carol, you've convinced me. How about this: please write up a one-page plan that covers how you'd like to arrange and manage those customer engagements, and whether you want to work with the sales team or independently; suggest some ideas for how you'll share what you've seen and heard with the rest of us on the Executive Committee; tell me what metrics you think we should develop to track the impact of these engagements; and give me a list of three companies for which you'd like to Executive Sponsor. Does that make sense?"

"Perfect sense, Tom, and thanks for keeping an open mind -- I know some of this might seem a little crazy right now, but it's absolutely the way the world's headed, so I'd love for us to get there several months before our competitors do."

"I couldn't agree more, and thanks for your patience in being willing to spell it all out. Is there anything else we should cover?"

"Just one detail: We'd talked about a starting date of Sept. 1, and that's still fine with me. But I'll need to attend a great CIO-level event called the InformationWeek 500 Conference Sept. 13-15 in southern California. They always draw a tremendous group of CIOs from whom I can learn, and the theme this year is 'Navigating The Boardroom' -- given our conversation, the timing is perfect."

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].


About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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