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CIO Values: Craig Lathrop, CIO, Americas' SAP Users' Group

I should have asked the tough questions about the value back to the business, which could have lead to a broader examination of the business model.

Career Track

Becky Blalock

CRAIG LATHROP
CIO
Americas' SAP Users' Group
How long at current company: Seven months

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: The team I had when I was CTO at Thomson Dialog. This collection of 300 globally dispersed (and quarreling) groups came together to build its own closely guarded systems with a custom-built single enterprise solution.

Most important career influencer: My high school wrestling coach, who told me I'd never amount to anything. I'm still trying to prove him wrong.

Decision I wish I could do over: In a prior role as CTO of a small learning company, we had a set of software solutions with so many complex features that the smallest change was expensive. I didn't realize quickly enough that IT's close alignment with the multiple business units, and filling all their requests, wasn't in the best interest of the overall company. I should have asked the tough questions about the value back to the business, which could have led to a broader examination of the business model.

Vision
The next big thing for my business will be ... social networking and Web 2.0 tools, which are moving from our children's playtime into big business.

Best advice for future CIOs: Take real interest in your people at every level; they want to work hard for someone who cares about them.

View on offshore outsourcing: Offshore or onshore, outsourced teams need to be involved and understand the business. Otherwise, it can cost more to outsource, and decrease management bandwidth.

On The Job

IT budget (approximate): 12% of revenue

Size of IT team: 12 internal, plus many partners

Top IT initiatives:

  • Improving our membership processing and financial systems to reduce manual efforts and improve responsiveness to our member's needs.
  • Enhancing our online application and social media capabilities for our member communities and resource centers, and to make our collaboration workspaces full of real value for our members.

How I measure IT effectiveness: Web site metrics and activity levels; high marks and continual up trends from our member surveys; help desk ticket data--open/close ticket rates, time to resolution, etc.; and an engaged, informed, recognized team.

Personal

Colleges/degrees: BA in business management from University of Northern Iowa

Leisure activity: My kids, golf, and genealogy

Best book read recently: John Adams, by David McCullough

Smartphone: I'm never without my BlackBerry.

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... on better terms with my wife.

Editor's Choice
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Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing