What A Job 2

Tyco's new CIO will be under pressure to help the company cut costs and clean up its numbers. He has yet to figure out how he'll get the job done--and who'll help him.

Larry Greenemeier, Contributor

August 22, 2003

5 Min Read

At Siemens, a subsidiary of $83 billion-a-year multinational conglomerate Siemens AG, Deasy oversaw 20 CIOs and an IT budget of more than $600 million as VP and CIO of the company's Americas business. Like Tyco, Siemens had a decentralized IT operation when Deasy was in charge. Deasy says his approach to managing such a large number of IT executives is to leverage their knowledge of the individual business units to get a big-picture view of the company's technological capabilities. "If you look at my career, this was the next logical step," Deasy says. "I've gone from business-unit CIO at GM to a large regional CIO at Siemens. My aspiration has always been a global leadership position."

Not having a corporate CIO has put Tyco behind in terms of managing apps and data, AMR's Parker says. But the economy could be on the side of Tyco's new leadership. The discrete manufacturing sector where the company has much of its business is showing signs of life. "We have some data that indicates companies will increase their overall spending from a year ago," Parker says. "Nothing dramatic, but companies in the manufacturing industry are focusing on eliminating waste and making investments in technology that provide enough return to be self-funding."

Having spent less than a month at his new job, Deasy is hardly prepared to talk specifics about his strategy for Tyco's IT systems or about the technology he plans to implement. He's intrigued by the possibilities of wireless networks and devices, Microsoft's .Net strategy, and Linux. As a technology user, Deasy finds himself carrying his laptop PC less and PDA more. All of these experiences and observations may factor into the technology decisions he ultimately approves, but his top priority is to create an IT policy for the company. This includes determining technology standards for all areas of the business, from E-mail to Web services, deciding which IT functions should be outsourced and which should be kept in-house, reviewing lists of vendors to create economies of scale wherever possible, and consolidating data centers and IT assets.

Decisions will be made based upon how long it will take to get new technology up and running, how much the technology will cost, and how it will be embraced by the company's employees, he says. "In terms of IT efficiency, you can only improve upon what you can measure, and Tyco hasn't yet fully measured its IT spend," Deasy says. One measurement he does have is that Tyco last year budgeted roughly $800 million for IT. Once these policies are established, Deasy will evaluate Tyco's supply-chain and E-business systems.

Deasy understands that it's not possible to escape at least some questions surrounding Tyco's accounting irregularities. "I have not tried to go back and understand the ghosts of Tyco's past," he says. "I've only tried to understand what exists today in terms of infrastructure and organizational structure to best figure out how I want to design going forward."


Dana Deasy is Tyco's first companywide CIO. The company lacks CIOs in several key business units. Here's who's already on Deasy's team, and where he needs to fill in:

Ron Vance, CIO, Tyco Electronics, $10.5 billion in 2002 sales. With Tyco since 1983.

Steve McManana, VP of IS, Tyco Healthcare, $7.9 billion in 2002 sales. With Tyco since 1981.

Help wanted: Tyco Fire & Security, $10.6 billion in 2002 sales made it the company's largest, including the ADT alarm service

Help wanted: Tyco Engineered Products & Services, $4.7 billion in 2002 sales.

Help wanted: Tyco Plastics & Adhesives, $1.9 billion in 2002 sales.

Data: Tyco

IT will play an important role in providing fiscal transparency across Tyco's several layers of management. "The effectiveness of a company's financial controls is based upon providing people with the right data," he says. "You need good data to make good decisions." But, again, business processes and policy will dictate the technology deployed to do this. "First, the company has to establish what it's looking for in terms of access."

Deasy sees his partnership with CEO Breen as the key to any successful IT initiatives. "A CEO should look at the CIO as a business partner and trust the CIO's technology judgment," Deasy says. "Shame on me if I'm waiting for [the CEO] to come to me. A CIO should want to take business initiative, rather than looking to fit business processes to a favored technology."

Tyco's rehabilitation starts at the beginning, and Deasy is excited to leave Tyco's posh West 57th Street offices behind him and relocate to the company's new, more modest offices in Princeton, N.J., where he'll work out of a "pleasant" three-story building in an office park. Although the new digs can't possibly compare with the Central Park splendor of West 57th Street, Deasy seems genuinely happy about Princeton, so much so that he's moving his family to New Jersey.

It's not that Deasy doesn't like New York. At Siemens, he had an office in the heart of Manhattan for the past four years. All the while, however, his wife, Laurie, and son remained in Michigan. "As far as a place to work, [New York] has been great," he says. "I've loved it, though I am really looking forward to Princeton. I think it's going to be a great place for Tyco."

So Deasy begins his tenure at Tyco with only a small taste of the company's former extravagance--and hardly a trace of gray hair. When he isn't interviewing CIO candidates, meeting with Breen, or trying to get his arms around Tyco's amorphous IT organization, Deasy pauses to take in the spectacular view of Central Park from his 43rd floor office. "It's a great place to look out on my crazier days," he said a few days before the move to Princeton.

Few would dispute that Deasy's craziest days lie ahead. He'll have a lot of freedom to do what he thinks is right for the company in terms of business-technology and decide whom he wants to help him accomplish it. "But," AMR's Parker says, "I don't think the company itself has a lot of room for error."

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights