CIOs who want to test their mettle should join a company where the IT department is disorganized and disconnected from the business. Then throw in the potential issues associated with a megamerger for good measure.
Sven Gerjets is facing such challenges as the CIO of Time Warner Cable (TWC), which sits between its failed 2015 acquisition by Comcast and a pending merger with Charter Communications. “It’s an interesting transformation opportunity because with the Charter deal looming, we’ve got a lot to clean up and a lot things to get ready and a short time to do it,” Gerjets tells CIO.com.
CIO looks to bring organizational focus to IT
The “clean up” entails modernizing the company’s IT and business processes and aligning them with the business’ priorities. Prior to his arrival from Pearson in October, TWC had been sans a CIO since 2014, leaving the IT department operating at an organizational deficit. It lacked a cohesive structure and operating model, and it had little accountability for who was responsible for what, or whether IT services were delivered consistently to the business. “IT had a long history of not focusing on the organization as much as we need to,” Gerjets says. “My focus is on driving quality up and aligning better with the business.”
Poaching CIOs to transform IT is a time-honored tradition in corporations. And CIOs who consider themselves experts in change management tend to embrace such challenges, including the risk of committing to so much blocking and tackling despite the uncertainties swirling around a business in evolving markets. That suits Gerjets, who recently published this LinkedIn post describing how consumerization is forcing organizations to deliver technology at a crisper pace, just fine.
Normally when a CIO lands at a new company, he or she crafts an IT strategy and lays it out for the IT leaders and rank-and-file staff, Gerjets says. But that wouldn’t work at Time Warner Cable, where Gerjets was an unknown quantity among an IT staff of 600 located in several offices around the country.
“What’s tough to ferret out [coming to] a new organization is whether there are bureaucratic, organizational or technological things that stop people from progress and lining out to the business,” Gerjets says. “With the time I had to make some actions, and with the acquisition uncertainty, I felt it would be better to get them to tell me what was going on, what we need to modify to get better.”
Crowdsourcing software proves invaluable
But how does a CIO go about gathering that information when no one knows who you are? For Gerjets, the answer was a Reddit-like crowdsourcing application called POPin. In December, Gerjets used POPin to pose a broad question to his IT organization: “What is keeping you from greatness?”
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