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BLOG: Running IT like a business

Martha Heller | Nov. 7, 2013
Interview with Rob Webb, former CIO of Hilton Worldwide and CEO of the TBM Council

What advice do you have for CIOs?
1. Develop expertise in finance.  For CIOs today, knowledge of finance is as important as knowledge of technology.   You need to develop this knowledge yourself, but it would also be helpful to hire a CFO of IT.  This senior executive reports to you and plays a strategic role in developing a common language with which to communicate IT investments.

2. Develop a strong partnership with the finance organization. CIOs and their CFOs do not always see eye to eye, but the quality of that IT/finance relationship can be key to the success or failure of an IT investment strategy. 

3. Develop a lingua franca with your business partners around how you will value technology investments.  This is where the TBM Council comes in.  The TBM Council is a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 by 15 F500 CIOs.  Today, we have over 980 members including 350 CIOs.

We are a group of like-minded CIOs who share best practices around running technology as a business.  We have developed a number of different operating disciplines including cost transparency, business alignment, IT service optimization, and budgeting and planning.   For each discipline, we have created standardized methods for understand and communicating IT supply, demand, investments and services.

The framework covers everything from email to complex applications like finance, HR and even customized applications like revenue management. TBM gives CIOs the ability to understand and communicate where the spending occurs and link that spending to the performance.  Our framework helps CIOs drive a service oriented culture and performance based culture. 

For example, how do you benchmark your existing infrastructure costs? How do you benchmark rate of IT investment in areas that are differentiating to your business?   Our goal is to allow CIOs to look across a wide range of industries and ask: What should my costs per seat be for email?  What is my rate of investment in cloud based technologies? How much of a burden do I have because my legacy ERP system has heavy customization?

If CIOs can understand their infrastructure costs in this much detail and communicate them to their finance executives, we can all get ahead of the "IT problem" and enjoy an integrated, high-value approach to IT.



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