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Balancing the Global CIO Role
The Global CIO role comes with its own set of challenges. In my view, while coordinating with diverse P&Ls, the key challenge is to develop an effective common platform that they can leverage, and to establish certain common platforms in a situation where these have not been established before. The clear premise is that you build these platforms for the obvious benefits to the organization over the medium and long term.
For example, we have certain platforms of choice in ERP, CRM, Business Intelligence, etc. The challenge for us is to conceptualize, pilot and implement these platforms across the P&Ls, based on what makes sense for each of them. You do it in a way that accommodates the varying interests of all the user communities across the group.
Projects need be put together in such a way that there is functional agreement among the stakeholders. The delivery of the project has to be seamless across P&Ls, and should provide a service that is more than what they would expect on their own. Also, cheaper than what they would be able to do by themselves.
From the point of view of overall IT investment, I need to ensure that all our IT investments across the group are in the appropriate direction, and that they are all complement both in the letter and spirit of law when it comes to utilization of software and hardware.
Another challenge is to ease the process for people working on every shared initiative that is mutually rewarding to all the stakeholders. Also, deliver a level of quality and service that makes it better than what the best would get independently.
Multiple P&Ls present the opportunity to try different things in scenarios where the solution itself gives us the benefit that we need. The effort should be to leverage where we can pilot, especially with the way cloud and infrastructure is evolving. It also gives us the experience as a group to find out what works best, and then translate that to the platform.
The answer to these challenges lies in developing an attitude of collaboration. The attitude should not be that of a service provider, while in essence there are several elements of the delivery of service. The minute you get trapped into a service provider attitude, you create some kind of dysfunctional relationship.
The other extreme, which is the one of mandated top down push, is also from the same point of view counterproductive because eventually you are hitting the acceptance of these solutions. I think the leadership element here is the one of appropriate styles for appropriate situations and understanding what is negotiable and is not.