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Forbes The CIO’s First 100 Days Series: Doug Tracy

Doug Tracy Transforms CSC IT In His First 100 Days and Beyond

by Peter High, published on Forbes.com

07-21-2014

Doug Tracy is an IT transformation specialist. He has had three IT executive posts in a row that required major transformations, at Rolls Royce, at Dana Holdings, and in his current post as Chief Information Officer of Computer Sciences Corporation. Befitting an executive who has a master’s degree in software development and management, an MBA, and who spent time as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group, a significant portion of the transformations that Tracy has overseen has focused on making his IT department be bigger sources of value creation on behalf of the enterprise. At CSC, this has meant introducing a “Customer Zero” strategy, in which CSC IT leverages the product and service offering of the company, in many cases before they are introduced to true customers. In so doing, it has woven IT more firmly into the broader fabric of the company, and positioned the department to be a strategic partner in honing the product and service offering.  He also created an Applied Innovation team, so named because he seeks to apply the innovations that are derived from the Technology Office of the company, as well as from vendor partners that he engages.  This has meant that just as he has had to focus on rendering IT more efficient, he has also had a number of levers to pull in developing new innovations within IT and for broader use across CSC.

(This is the 19th article in the CIO’s First 100 Days series. To read past articles with the CIOs of companies like Caterpillar, Time Warner, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Deutsche Bank, and General Electric, please click this link. To read future articles in the series, please click the “Follow” link above.)

Peter High: Doug, you have been CIO at a number of organizations prior to your current role as CIO of Computer Sciences Corporation. Can you speak a little to what advantages those experiences had as well as what new challenges you faced in the early stages of this role?

Doug Tracy: I think the biggest advantage comes from the fact that I am no stranger to transformation, since this is my third transformational role in a row. My first transformational role as CIO began in 2004, upon joining Rolls-Royce as EVP IT for North America and Global IT CTO, where I had the responsibility of transforming the IT organization, strategy and architecture.  My next role, as VP and CIO of Dana Holding Company, saw a transformation on a much larger scale as the company was just coming out of Chapter 11. This trend of transformations on larger and larger scales continued once I joined CSC because this transformation encompassed the entire business, requiring a totally different pace of change that even I was not accustomed to at first. CSC had brought on a completely new senior management team, had an innovative new business model and was moving to a more centralized structure with standard global processes, shared resources and learnings.

As with all new roles I’ve undertaken, I spent a significant amount of time before my start date in preparing for the role.  For example, I spent time researching annual reports and learned as much as I could about the company and people.  I even spoke with the former CIO of Misys, who had worked for Mike Lawrie, my soon-to-be CEO, to understand Mike’s leadership style. As a result of this preparation, I found the situation fairly similar to the expectations I had; the speed and scale of transformation and the number of balls in the air simultaneously being the biggest challenges. I realized there was a certain degree of risk with the pace of change, but I believed we would face greater risks by transforming at a slower pace. Most people regret moving too slowly, a regret I knew CSC would not share.

Additional topics covered in the article include:

  • Leading an IT transformation on such a scale can be a daunting task for any CIO given the large volume of change initiatives that not only need to be undertaken but also need to be managed and prioritized effectively to ensure success. Can you speak to how you went about beginning and setting up a successful IT transformation at CSC?
  • What were the various phases that encompassed your transformation strategy and what were the challenges you faced?
  • What role did metrics play in project prioritization and the execution of transformation plans?
  • You mentioned a shift from developing IT products to relying more on service providers. What changes did you see in terms of CSC vendor relationships and management?

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