Working closely with all business areas, we established that IT’s role is to collect and organize data in a manner for the business or customers to consume. After we had organized the right skill-sets and tools, we created data warehouses, frames, cubes and then trained the business areas to use the tools for analyzing that information. The result has improved dashboards and reports that provided a view for operations in each area to measure efficiency of their processes all the way to business analysis, having access for ad-hoc crunching of the data allowing creative thinking in delivering tactical and strategic opportunities. Our greatest adopters’ currently have been Sales and Marketing, Manufacturing Operations, Order management, and Finance.
"With multiple sourcing solutions, securing and governing the companies’ data is very challenging"
There were two technologies that stood out for NewPage that created an opportunity to reduce our cost of IT run services by 25 percent as well as improve our integration capability to leverage a better mix between our ERP systems and bolt-on’s: 1) “Data-centers-in-a box” and 2) New middleware integration tools. As an added bonus via our PMO governance process, we used some of this savings to pay for transformational solutions like CRM, it’s nice when IT can help fund strategic initiatives.
Security and data management tools are top of mine. With multiple sourcing solutions, securing and governing the companies’ data is very challenging. Everything from contracts that allow a corporation to better control the diverse platforms where it’s data resides and management tools to secure and control data hasn’t matured at the same rate the sourcing options have become available. This leaves a gap in risk vs. reward limiting the opportunity.
The Evolving Role of IT
For NewPage, it was key to culturally change our IT organization to a Business Relationship Management model (BRM). It afforded the right line of sight to how technology could solve many business issues and truly created the partnering platform we had been striving to achieve. I personally believe that this is the only way to ensure large companies don’t spend double the IT cost because of a shadow IT teams/solutions because you aren’t truly imbedded with the business working toward the same goals.
It’s not what IT has done on its own but what IT and non-IT functional areas have done together which made the difference for us. Together with all business functional areas, we adopted an IT BRM culture and created enterprise governance within our Project Management Office that doesn’t just make decisions together about technology investment opportunities but controls the funding for these investments. It starts with the Annual Planning Process being part of that governance team’s role and carries through as a combined company strategy with alignment by all groups on what’s important. For IT, we are no longer put into the bad guy situation stuck between business areas, instead we’re just another business area involved in the decision making.
The Keys to Success
The key to success at your corporation for what they have entrusted you with is the team/talent you put in place to deliver IT services and how you position IT within the company. Are you going to be a utility only for consumption or are you going to be one of the business areas integrated with the others running the company? I would recommend the latter if your company's business isn’t IT.