P&G's CIO Puts IT At Users' Service

Passerini doesn't just provide decision makers with data, he's in charge of the services organization that makes things happen.

John Soat, Contributor

December 14, 2007

4 Min Read

"We want to be the go-to organization in terms of decision making throughout the organization." That's pretty ambitious talk, but it's typical of Filippo Passerini, chief information and global services officer at Procter & Gamble. Passerini's group doesn't just provide data for executive decision making. He's also in charge of P&G's shared services organization, responsible for corporate services like HR and payroll. For Passerini, the blend of services and technology is a potent combination, one that helps make IT integral to the organization.

Passerini, a longtime P&Ger, signed on in 1981 as a systems analyst. He became head of global business services in 2003, added the CIO title in 2004, and renamed his organization "Information Decision Solutions" to reflect its new services orientation.

Passerini champions "virtualization" technology that lets consumers evaluate products on store shelves through 3-D graphical representations, but collaboration is his particular passion. That's reflected in his latest project: rolling out 48 of Cisco Systems' super-high-end Telepresence teleconferencing systems over the next nine months. Passerini says this is the most aggressive use of the technology to date and serves as "an example of how to bring collaboration to the next level."

Q&A With Filippo Passerini

InformationWeek: What's the biggest project you've been involved in lately?

Passerini: We integrated Gillette. We acquired the company a couple of years ago, and we were able to integrate Gillette's systems in 15 months. It was a breakthrough in speed and the quality of the integration process.

IW: How is P&G's approach to IT unique?

Passerini: What we did that's unique to P&G, we integrated shared services with IT. We consider it a breakthrough model. For the first time-and I've been a long-time IT professional-IT is accountable for work, truly accountable. IT is accountable for service levels. It's really like running a business. By blending IT and services, we created a model that is very different.

IW: What factors are affecting what you're doing in IT?

Passerini: There are three trends in the world that are impacting P&G's business, and IT can uniquely influence them. One is the notion that users are expecting more personalized interactions. Consumers expect more and more one-to-one interaction. That was not the case seven years ago, but now it's more pervasive.

The second is the accelerating time to market across the CPG [consumer packaged goods] industry. It's amazing how consumers respond to innovation. So now it's about being fast and being first.

And the third is anticipating what is going on in the business. How can I detect early on the indicators of business trends?

In each one, IT can play a unique role.

IW: For example?

Passerini: There's the area of product development. We used to use consumer focus groups, and each cycle took five to six weeks. Now we virtualize the whole thing. Consumers can provide feedback on the fly. That helps accelerate new products to market significantly.

IW: What's your most ambitious IT goal?

Passerini: Our vision is to be able to change our traditional business reporting, from pages full of numbers to complete visualization. Imagine a world map, all color-coded-red is an issue, yellow is an alert-by individual country, by business unit, by SKUs. Visualization is very intuitive, very attractive. It's a more efficient and effective way for people to grasp business information.

IW: Ultimately, how do you want IT to be looked on at P&G?

Passerini: We want to be the business transformation leaders. We want to lead business process changes. We want to be the change agents for P&G.

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