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Why does IT exist?

Geoff Lazberger | Aug. 20, 2013
Not dissimilarly, when you look at how IT is ingrained within a large, complex organisation, it is obvious to see the core value lies in the information itself.

Onboarding of new contractors particularly is usually seen as an expensive luxury and generally consists of being allocated a desk, a login and a phone extension.

The rest is usually up to their good (or bad) habits learned from other companies in other previous roles, or their ability to ask questions before doing something if they have the mind to do so. And how many outsourcing strategies are currently being planned without the first necessary step being in place -- how to backsource again if, and when, the situation requires.

The golden rule is don't outsource until you first have a backsource strategy. All relationships can go sour.

No PowerPoint necessary
So how do you impress upon the executive as to the real value of information? A few years ago, as CIO for a large investment bank with many billion of dollars worth of funds under management, I was invited to an all day offsite planning session with around 11 corporate CEOs.

Each of us was pre-allocated a time slot to present to the group. Having championed the idea of IT gaining a seat at the table for a long time, I was chuffed to be invited to present the case for IT and so spent a lot of time preparing my slides and message.

However, things did not go to plan. After around 10 hours of discussion and presentation by each CEO on funds and investments (the business) with everyone going well over their allocated time allowance, the chief CEO of the company told me I was the final presenter though, unfortunately, due to time constraints I could only take 10 minutes for my presentation.

I thought for a few seconds, looked at the dozen or so slides I had spent many days diligently preparing, then looked at the chief CEO and said, "I only need two minutes."

I closed my computer and then went on to speak directly to the group. I told them apart from the people who work within the business, the company had two key assets -- the money in the bank, and the information in its systems. Now, I proffered, if we turned both of those assets off for a week -- which would hurt the business more?

Immediately, one of the CEOs yelled out to lose email or network access for even five minutes would be disastrous. I smiled and looked at the group of CEOs who were all concurring and nodding anxiously.

The consensus was it would be terrible to lose our information systems even for a very short period. "Well," I said "I've been hearing all day to how we need to implement better governance over funds, greater segregation of duties with investments, better due diligence on acquisitions, etc. But if the information in our systems is even more precious than the money we have in the bank then why don't we apply the same care and attention to our IT governance, spending and strategic execution?"


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