AmerisourceBergen’s CIO Creates Value Through Greater Centralized Influence In The First 100 Days
When Dale Danilewitz became the Global CIO of $88 billion revenue AmerisourceBergen, he had a mandate to exert greater influence from the center in an organization that had traditionally allowed the business units to operate autonomously. This was part of a greater “Power of One” initiative that CEO Steve Collis introduced, but it still would be a tremendous undertaking for the new technology chief. Danilewitz had an advantage, however in that he was once one of the business unit IT leaders, and as such understood the likely angst that such a cultural change would cause. Therefore, in his first 100 days on the job, Danilewitz had discussions with each of his former peer business unit CIOs, explained the rationale for the change, the value that they should derive, while also drawing lessons from each of them to ensure that the needs of each business unit were not ignored in a rush to do things more commonly across the enterprise. As a result, he has helped spearhead the greater unity across the company, identified areas where it was possible to achieve economies of scale, whether from vendors or in leveraging processes more fully, and generally leveraged pockets of excellence more broadly across the organization, as he describes in this interview that I recently conducted with him.
(This is the 14th article in the “CIO’s First 100 Days” series. To read the prior 13, including interviews with the CIOs of Intel, Caterpillar, Time Warner, Johnson & Johnson, and J. Crew, please click this link. To receive notifications regarding future articles in the series, please click the “Follow” link above.)
Peter High: Dale, can you speak a little to your rise to the role of corporate or enterprise CIO of AmerisourceBergen and the scope of the transformation you were to lead upon commencing that role?
Dale Danilewitz: Prior to my promotion to CIO for all of AmerisourceBergen in 2012, I was the CIO of AmerisourceBergen’s Specialty Group. As an internal promotion, I was already familiar with the role, the business, processes and people.. As the new CIO, I had to quickly understand the current state of the IT department – decentralized and fragmented as we had four different business units, each with their own operating model. Two very large, one mid-size and one small, each with its own IT department that ran autonomously and had separate networks. Part of our transformation plan was to centralize and integrate this fragmented departments into a cohesive IT unit.
Our current CEO, Steve Collis, also an internal promotion rising to the role from President of the Specialty Group, worked with the outgoing CEO to affect a change model they termed the Power of One. The sentiment across the organization was that divisions were growing further apart and the executive team needed a solution that would help deal with the oncoming challenges in the industry. Faced with minimal margins, the goal was to drive as up the margin and integrate the organization, not just IT, through communication and/or a shared services model.
During Tom Murphy’s era, AmerisourceBergen IT had four different CIOs – Tom as the corporate and Drug Company CIO, me as the Specialty CIO and two other divisional CIOs. Part of the IT centralization effort was to transform the structure to just one CIO for all of IT.
Additional topics covered in the article include:
- During the early stages of both the IT transformation as well as your tenure as CIO, what would you say were the key steps you took to work towards a smooth yet efficient transformation?
- The extensive preparatory work you undertook prior to formally taking on the corporate CIO role had its many advantages. Can you speak a little as to how your preparation helped you prioritize the projects you took on to begin the transformation, and what those projects were?
- You mentioned that during your preparation, you spent a large amount of time consulting with other senior leaders and board members. How much of a role did such communication play as you undertook and progressed with the IT transformation?