CIO Straight Talk - Issue 3 - 24
Prior to the smart grid, in order to determine the boundaries of an area affected by an
outage, many utilities relied on customers calling in. It was like playing pin the tail on
the donkey. Now intelligent devices in the network provide that information, and it’s
very precise. We can restore power more quickly because we have better information
about what equipment actually failed.
Leading Through Influence
To be a good IT leader, you don’t have to know the bits
and bytes; you have to know how to drive engagement.
You must know how to give your employees what they
need to connect with your company and department,
align them with the mission, and get the information
you need from them.
CIOs also have to exert leadership beyond their own
teams. My director at MCI used to tell me, “Anybody
can get people to follow them if they work for them. A
real leader is someone who can get the people who
don’t work for them to follow them.” That has stuck
CIO Straight Talk
We try to talk about our projects as business projects.
We really need that ownership and leadership by the
business. But we can’t just say, “Hey, this is not my
project; this is your project. I’m just the provider of the
service.” You’ve got to get company leaders and teams
outside IT to believe it and act on that ownership.
We start by making sure that all parts of the business
have more information about what’s going on in IT. A
lot of IT shops, especially in big corporations, operate
like a black box — the rest of the organization doesn’t
really know what’s going on. It’s important to share all
the projects in your portfolio in order to give business
leaders a perspective beyond their own projects. You
don’t need to spend hours and hours on this. But you
can give them a little bit of visibility and say, “I spend
20 percent of my budget on customer care applications,
and I spend 15 percent on these types of applications,
and these are the capabilities we’re delivering for other
parts of the business.”
As you increase that transparency, it’s amazing how
everybody starts to agree on priorities. You can
probably get 75 percent to 80 percent alignment. I don’t
know that we’re there yet, but that’s what we have to
• As IT becomes embedded in all corners of the
business, business leaders need to become conversant with
technology and data analytics. Technologists, for their part,
need to learn how the business runs.
• As IT and operations converge, many wonder who owns
what. But what’s really important is closer collaboration and
involving IT in ways to improve the customer experience.
• Providing even a little bit of transparency about IT
budgets and projects can help align the entire
organization around IT — and business —