Symposium Explores Maximizing IT’s Business Value

The MIT CIO Symposium, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in May, has started releasing articles and video from the conference. The first, from an afternoon breakout session, tackles the issue of how CIOs can maximize and communicate the business value of IT.

The session was called “Maximizing and Communicating the Business Value of IT” and was covered by Allan Tate, MIT Sloan CIO Symposium Panel Captain and Technologies Services Executive at IBM. In addition to his story there is also a video of the panel session available for viewing.

The moderator, Chip Gliedman, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester Research, led the panel through a discussion on how CIOs deliver and measure value in the modern digital enterprise. In addition to Gleidman, panelists included Brook Colangelo, SVP & CIO, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Harry Moseley, CIO and Managing Director, KPMG LLP; Martyn Wiltshire, Director of Strategic IT Initiatives, SanDisk Corporation; and, Todd Tucker, Research Director, Technology Business Management (TBM) Council.

The panelists addressed this question, according to the article, “For years, IT organizations have worked to optimize technology and deliver the best value for the money. Today IT is at an inflection point: disruptive innovations, such as social and mobile computing, are creating new opportunities and challenges for CIOs. As the IT landscape shifts from effectiveness and efficiency to customer engagement and business partnership, CIOs are being forced to reconsider the mission of IT. What is ‘value’ in the digital era and how is it measured?”

Tate reports, “Todd Tucker suggests that the answer is a balanced scorecard, where many levels of value are measured. He says, ‘The role for a lot of CIO’s is one of driving transformation of their own IT organization to be more of a service provider and value partner and, as a result, their metrics for showing value are also changing. . . There needs to be a balanced set of metrics, some business outcome centric (indirectly effected by IT), some service delivery metrics (directly managed by IT), and some operational metrics. It’s a portfolio of metrics that should be used.’”

Maybe CIOs need to prove their worth by establishing how well their operations are doing in the 21st century. Are they digital masters?

In a related article at InformationWeek.com, George Westerman, a researcher at the MIT Center for Digital Excellence, who also participated at the conference, says he has identified “companies as digital masters if they meet the following two criteria:

They invest in technology with the viewpoint that it represents an opportunity to transform their business, and they have leaders who are proactive about finding ways to use digital technology to benefit all aspects of the business.

They drive technology innovation across all business departments, marrying a clear digital vision with a strong governance foundation, preparing the company to change, and seeing that change through.”

Along those lines, Tate writes, “How do CIOs show that IT investments are paying off? How do they justify investments for products or services that don’t yet exist? Chip Gliedman suggests that today’s IT projects need to focus on time to value instead of time to implementation. Brook Colangelo amplified this point by explaining how he has applied the Agile methodology to all aspects of IT, not just development.”

Colangelo says, “We’re at this incredible inflection point in education, and in ed-tech. One of the first things that I did was I took agile methodology and applied it across the entire spectrum inside our group. I had everybody go through user story training so that they see through the eyes of the user, and they apply the same sort of iterative process for producing any type of work. We can’t have this ‘you give me the requirements and I’ll come back.’ Today, it has to be a conversation with the business — let’s try something, let’s show you, let’s solve, let’s iterate.”

In case you’re interested, the 2015 MIT CIO Symposium takes place May 20, 2015.

 

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.