How CIOs at Microsoft and Cisco Realigned IT For A New Era, article in The Wall Street Journal

August 06, 2012
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Peter High tells the story of how Tony Scott, CIO of Microsoft, and Rebecca Jacoby, CIO of Cisco, are transforming their IT departments within their respective technology giants.

by Peter High, article published in The Wall Street Journal

08-02-12

Excerpt from the article:

Larger corporations with multiple operating companies, business units, or brands must confront a debate about the merits of centralized vs. federated organizational structures. The rationale for the former is often the desire to set common standards, create efficiencies, and leverage economies of scale by purchasing software and vendor services globally rather than locally, where possible. The rationale for the latter is often to have IT closest to where the business is done, to increase flexibility, and to efficiently deliver capabilities based on the unique needs of each individual entity.

There are a number of businesses that are taking a hybrid approach that befits major technological transformations that are afoot in the market. In so doing, they are recognizing the role that IT can play in fostering partnerships across the traditional business silos, and in creating efficiencies and fostering innovation.

Microsoft used to operate in the analog world, where its software products were manufactured on discs and sold in boxes. IT reflected the businesses it served, supporting manufacturing applications that were quite different from engineering applications. Over the past few years, given the availability of increased bandwidth and consumers’ comfort with digital products distributed over the web, customers now prefer downloading software to their device or accessing it over the web, as a service. Microsoft CIO Tony Scott, recognized this change and realized that his IT organization needed to adapt, speeding up the company’s processes and focusing on customer satisfaction.

(…)

Rebecca Jacoby, the chief information officer and senior vice president of the IT and Cloud and Systems Management Technology Group at Cisco, is leading a comparable transformation. Like Microsoft, Cisco is an extraordinarily diverse business, and IT had been aligned with the business structure. The company articulated a new vision, based on doing more across business units. Jacoby recognized the opportunity for IT to play a lead role in identifying common business processes that would form areas of potential collaboration. Services were identified to drive greater transparency and alignment. Jacoby told me that she created the Operational Excellence and Service Enablement team, “which sought to change the level of conversation with the business from technology deployments to IT capabilities and value creation, and to create a transparent partnership between IT and the business to bring about more effective management of the strategic goals of the organization.” (…)

To read this article in its entirety, please visit The Wall Street Journal.

If you would like to listen to our recent podcast interview with Tony Scott, CIO of Microsoft, please visit the Forum on World Class IT.

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