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Innovative CIOs show how to make money with IT

Diane Frank | Dec. 3, 2012
A select few CIOs are generating cold hard cash through innovation and collaboration. We rounded up examples of CIOs who generate revenue with IT, either by boosting sales or developing a product or service sold externally.

Robert Laskowski, president and CEO of Christiana Care, knows the value of having his organization's CIO serving as what he calls an "operational strategist," turning mission needs into practical action and tools. "The way [Gaboriault] conceives of the CIO role is exactly what we need," he says.

And when those tools bring in money, the company can provide even better treatment. "IT here is not a technology issue for us, or even a means to an end," Laskowski says, "but a catalytic enabler of a whole new way to practice our profession."

Sidebar: Crowdsourcing Fosters IT Innovation

An experienced CIO says crowdsourcing tools can help IT staffers at all levels contribute their innovative ideas

Michelle McKenna-Doyle, who joined the National Football League in September as a CIO focused on creating new services for fans, says the path to generating revenue starts with innovation.

However, she cautions CIOs not to carve out a special innovation shop, because there's a danger that the more functional positions in the IT group will be seen as unglamorous or undesirable, which can trigger a split in the IT department. "Innovation," she says, "has to weave its way through the whole organization."

At several companies she's worked for, McKenna-Doyle has created an innovation council within IT that people routinely rotate through. Council members come from various IT disciplines, so everyone gets a say in the new ideas.

"A lot of the revenue-driving ideas actually live at the base level of the people keeping the lights on," she says. "They're the ones who will see the most waste or the most opportunity."

But it's not easy to get IT people at that level to speak up, especially in a meeting with talkative marketing staff. McKenna-Doyle suggests taking advantage of the social media tools now available to help IT people make contributions.

When she was CIO at Constellation Energy, McKenna-Doyle deployed innovation-management software called Spigit. This idea-generation tool awards points for contributing innovative ideas, then rewards people for having the most ideas. But it would be easy for these suggestions to simply go into a bucket and be forgotten. To ensure that didn't happen, McKenna-Doyle created a process for the group to decide which submissions should get a chance to move forward. The people associated with those proposals then have a role in shepherding them to fruition.

Using these crowdsourcing tools and keeping everyone involved in innovation, McKenna-Doyle says, will help IT organizations be seen as a source of ideas, value and revenue.

 

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