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CIOs who try to maintain walls shall perish: Adriana Karaboutis

Anup Varier | May 2, 2013
The speed of IT evolution has had a significant impact on CIOs across the globe. At Dell, Adriana Karaboutis, in her role as Global CIO, is responsible for driving Dell's IT organization evolution--from managing an efficient and innovative global information infrastructure to creating innovative breakthroughs that provide technology advances for the company and its customers. We spoke to her about the role of the internal IT team in enabling business transformation.

The speed of IT evolution has had a significant impact on CIOs across the globe. At Dell, Adriana Karaboutis, in her role as Global CIO, is responsible for driving Dell's IT organization evolution--from managing an efficient and innovative global information infrastructure to creating innovative breakthroughs that provide technology advances for the company and its customers. We spoke to her about the role of the internal IT team in enabling business transformation.

What kind of transformation and innovation in IT systems are you looking forward to?

The rate at which things keep changing has required IT to step up in the area of speed. When you do 18 acquisitions in a period of 24 to 36 months, it can't be business as usual. It requires innovative thinking, new processes, and new tools to get the base platform in place to support the company.

Even traditional things like agile versus waterfall development is absolutely critical for us. More proofs of concepts and incubation are important. We have set up an incubation team, and I am in talks with Hemal Shaw, our CIO in India, on how we can incubate new products and solutions here and in other regions. We are also driving more with the business and figuring out how to streamline the required process redefinitions.

So the rate of change in getting to be a world-class solutions company has dictated a rate of change for Dell IT. The pace is now much faster. To use a car analogy, our foot is on the accelerator.

How can IT become a partner to business and drive overall strategy?

First of all, we need to think differently about ourselves. The way you see yourself--whether as an organization or an individual--defines your presence in the company. So, we consider ourselves a part of the business. The business doesn't need to tell us what to do and wait for us to go back and code it.

We've become, at the highest level, a part of the business architecture team. This team has representatives from each function and our four core business units: Services, software, enterprise, and client. We all come together and discuss how we plan to run the company going forward, decide on new operating models, sales promotions, how we are going to do deliveries, and other important things like that.

IT isn't at the tail-end of the process, saying, "Tell us what you want and we'll develop it." Instead, we are right where the decisions are made and detailing the 'what if' scenarios.

Doesn't that leave the impression that IT always says "no" or throws up reasons for why something wouldn't work?

At Dell, the conversation within the IT team starts with a "yes," and then we decide what to do to stay at that yes.

 

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