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The Grill: Raytheon CIO Rebecca Rhoads takes on new role with global reach

Robert L. Mitchell | June 18, 2013
Raytheon CIO Rebecca Rhoads was tapped earlier this year to lead the defense contractor's newly formed Global Business Services unit, whose goal is to improve operations and services by optimizing resources.

You recently launched a zero-baseline initiative to consolidate systems and streamline your application portfolio.How's that going? After reaching the tipping point with our ERP consolidation, we had retired over 3,550 legacy systems. But the real question is, for the portfolio you have left, what is going to be of strategic value five years from now? If you're going into the future with the portfolio you have left, that's probably not going to be the right answer.

So we are doing a zero-baseline activity of what we have left; as we look out five years, we pretend we're working from a clean sheet of paper. In general, no matter how much you've improved your portfolio balance, you're going to find more opportunity that way.

We put our zero-baseline initiative in place last December. Somewhere between 80% and 90% of legacy applications had been retired during our ERP consolidation, and of the balance we've taken another 20% out of that legacy environment.

You are working on a next-generation data center that relies heavily on cloud computing and virtualization.What were your priorities? The way you leverage the cloud is to implement and migrate system by system, process by process, application by application. Once you have an architecture and know the applications that are strategic, you know exactly what your priority is in terms of your cloud migration strategy. That's what we have done.

The other priority we have is enterprise-level service and desktop virtualization. Our initiative is designed to migrate the information we still have out on desktop computers and our unstructured data repository to our cloud. The value for us is as much about security and risk management as anything, given that we have a lot of intellectual property, we're a global company and we're in the aerospace and defense industry. You bring all of that together and you have a business case.

Your internal social network, RSpace, has been successful with your users.What are the elements of that, and what made it take off? Integration is the trump card. It had to be completely integrated in the work environment that we use today for communicating, for collaborating, and how we flow information down through the company.

In our portal environment, RSpace is integrated within that. We also paid attention to what the work pattern would be and how people would use the information. Within the first six months, we had one-third of our employees adopt it. The next thing we knew everyone was on it and the CEO said, "I guess you don't have to ask if you can proceed with the pilot; it's already taken off."

What's the key to your success? When you've had a strong champion, an aligned senior leadership team, and you've had buy-in to a multiyear strategy, it's amazing what you're able to do.Read more about management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.

 

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