He's the guy who makes sure that Apple never has more than a few days' worth of unsold inventory. He's the reason that Apple makes a billion Dollars a quarter. And that's why the Steve Jobs wanted Cook to follow him as CEO.
It has been argued in some corners of the web that Cook lacks Jobs' vision and creativity. It could hardly be otherwise. But he understands fully that the customer experience is only part about the product itself. Delivering on a promise is everything. And the CIO is often responsible for the systems and processes by which the product gets to the customer.
Amazon - only a book store
To find a company-wide example of the importance of delivery, you need look only as far as Amazon.
Amazon was an online book store, remember. But really, from day one, Amazon was about moving product from a to b. Jeff Bezos set up Amazon in Washington DC so that the fewest possible number of his customers would have to pay additional taxes from buying a book within their home state.
He was already thinking about logistics. But the genius of Amazon as it grew in the US and beyond was the ability to get you the things you wanted, as soon as possible.
The UK is only a small country, but isn't it staggering that you can buy just about anything from Amazon on one day, and have it at your day the following morning? Logistics is what Amazon excels at, and it's why it has such a huge business. The Kindle, Kindle Fire and Fire Phone ranges builds from this.
Yes they are ereaders, tablets and smartphones, but to Amazon they are simply another way of getting virtual products to you. Immediately. (They are also another way of you ordering physical products, which you can receive tomorrow.)
There is a fascinating anecdote in the definitive Amazon book 'The Everything Store', in which the senior execs are visiting a distribution centre in order to iron out problems in the logistics systems.
An academic happens to be present, and expresses amazement at the fact that Bezos - the billionaire founder and CEO - is literally inside the factory machinary, sleeves rolled up, trying to understand exactly how things work in order to improve them.
The point isn't that Bezos has an obsession with detail (although the book contends that he does). Rather it is that the person who is driving Amazon's strategy understands that the key to its success is delivery.
Rubbish products don't sell, but great products rarely succeed if the logistics and operations aren't taken care of. Delivery is not just important, it is the most important word in tech. And the CIO is often the person best-placed to smooth the path between customer and product.
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