Trust Is Key To Collaboration - InformationWeek
01:25 PM

Trust Is Key To Collaboration

Contingency planning task force. Disaster-recovery strategy meeting. Business-continuity overview. Cybersecurity vendor selection. Physical security updates. New training. New policies. Decentralize the network. Recruit top-notch chief security officer; restructure to give the position clout. CFO meeting to discuss sources of funds for all of above.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth: Meet with CEO to review the collaborative business initiative you and the heads of three different business units have put together; prepare for presentation to board. Complete new plans for ROI metrics for all business-technology investments. Evaluate whether to outsource any or all of eight functions. Finish migration from sales-force automation application to CRM application. Meet with manufacturing to discuss how they can accelerate production while trimming 11% from budget. Two days with key members of Customer Council: Key issue is convincing them that if they tell you more, you can do more for them. Scratch that: Key issue is trust. Meanwhile, Machiavelli Junior in business development is spreading the word that your reluctance to go broadband across the enterprise has cost the company $50 million in deals that didn't happen in this quarter alone; you glance at the file, showing that his recommended "can't miss" service provider went belly-up a few months ago. Ah, yes, but this morning when you ran into the vice chairman in the lobby, he told you that his 18-year-old-college-freshman grandson told him that 'the future is all broadband,' and so what are we doing about it? Three suppliers have told you they'd love to be part of the collaboration network project you're building, and they're ready to jump, but they don't have the bucks for the new and dramatically heightened security requirements you've put into place. But if you'd just agree to pay the first 75%, they'll find a way to fill in the remaining 25% (probably). Your CustomerTrack project--new initiatives for funneling all manner of customer feedback and input (phone, face-to-face, Web, E-mail, carrier pigeon) into a business-intelligence engine is winning lots of friends in marketing, and thank heavens that C3PO--or is it the CPO?--well, either way, the chief privacy officer has a strategic IT background and can serve as an advocate for what you're doing while also ensuring that all the proper safeguards are in place.

"That is why it is imperative that we hold firm to the Bush Doctrine: to be unshakable in our support for allies who are steadfast, and unyielding in our challenges to those who are not; to be uncompromising in our demands that countries like Syria and Iran end their support of terrorism before we open our diplomatic and economic doors to them; and to be unflinching in our determination to remove a uniquely implacable enemy and terrorist, Saddam Hussein, from power before he strikes at us with weapons of mass destruction. We should focus on Iraq after we have dealt with bin Laden."

--Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut, in an Op-Ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29, 2001.

So life is good. Hairy and gut-wrenching, but good. Or, it was good, until the CEO told you this morning about the imminent $6 billion takeover of a competitor whose products and services are lousy but whose IT systems and processes are great. ...

Ah, the cushy, country-club, expense-account life of the business-technology executive, right? Well, for those who have somehow managed to miss that gravy train, take heart: You're not alone. And we expect that a few hundred or more of you will convene with us early next year in the flesh to kick around war stories, exchange best practices, hear some riveting speakers (did someone mention Jack Welch?), work through the fleet of pressing questions facing you and your peers, and challenge yourselves to take a different look at things inspired by the experience of others. This will all be happening at the InformationWeek Spring Conference from March 17 to 20 in Amelia Island, Fla., where our theme will be, "Collaborative Business: The Big Picture" (for more information, visit Our main featured speaker will indeed be Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of General Electric, who will offer his incomparable insights and perspectives on business strategy, customer focus, leadership, and competitive spirit.

The challenges all of you face each day are clearly not small or limited; that's why we've dedicated this event to the pursuit of some understanding of The Big Picture, and the ways in which collaborative business is the best venue for seeing that broad panorama. I'd also like to take this opportunity to offer complimentary registrations to the two people who offer (1) the most relevant topic we should be sure to discuss at the conference, and (2) the best question to ask Jack Welch. See you there.

Bob Evans

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Bob Evans's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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