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Bob Willett, World Class IT Principle Five, External Partnerships, eSeminar with Bob Willett, CEO of Al Futtaim Group, and Former CIO of Best Buy and CEO of Best Buy International

December 20, 2010

This interview is the fifth in a special series of five eSeminars covering the Five Principles of World Class IT. The five interviews have been broadcast in sequential weeks, and in this conversation on principle five –External Partnerships, Bob Willett discusses the following ideas:

  • The lessons learned from having been a provider of outsourced services to the time when he was a user of them
  • The rationale and benefits of outsourcing the majority of the IT department
  • The benefits he sought and gained through outsourcing, and why reducing cost was not the number one priority
  • How Best Buy’s “Business Information Officers” served to translate business requirements to vendors
  • How best to evaluate external partners beyond just measuring SLAs

Follow this link to download the eSeminar presentation

This is the final interview in this series covering the five principles of World Class IT. We hope you have enjoyed the deeper dive into each principle.


Bob Willett’s Biography

Robert A. Willett is the chief executive officer of Al Futtaim Group, a conglomerate operating from the United Arab Emirates that operates eight divisions comprising automotive, electronics, insurance, services, real estate, retail, industries and overseas.

Prior to his current position, Willett was the chief executive officer of Best Buy International, the strategic business unit of Best Buy Co., Inc., focused on creating opportunities for growth and innovation outside of the United States. He was appointed to this role in February 2006.

Under Willett’s leadership, Best Buy International has implement a global integration and growth strategy to maximize the retailer’s opportunities beyond North America, while continuing to reengineer the supply chain, Mobile phone and information technology functions that support the company’s customer centric transformation. Executives responsible for enterprise-wide efficiency initiatives, information systems, supply chain management, global sourcing, corporate development and Best Buy Mobile report to Willett. He is also a Chairman of the Best Buy Europe/Carphone wharehouse joint venture.

Prior to his current role, Willett served as the executive vice president of operations and chief information officer for Best Buy, and today continues to lead the company’s efforts to improve efficiencies and simplify its customer-centric operating model.

Willett’s experience spans a number of positions in the retail industry over the past several decades. Willett previously was global managing partner for Accenture Consulting retail practice, where he worked with best-in-class retailers throughout the world on strategy reviews, business transformation, procurement and supply chain management, brand positioning, technology transformation and customer segmentation.

Prior to joining Best Buy formally in 2003, Willett served as a special advisor to the Best Buy board of directors on issues relating to operational efficiency and excellence. During his tenure with Accenture, he also served as a partner on the “Process to Profits” initiative that Best Buy undertook in the late 1990s.

Willett launched his retail career in store management at Marks & Spencer a leading British department store chain in 1968, and has held executive positions, including managing director and group chief executive, for other retailers in Europe.

CIO Magazine named Willett to the CIO Hall of Fame in 2008 to honor his significant contributions to the IT discipline, use of technology in business and advancement of the CIO role. He was also recently named to the board of directors for LightHaus Logic, Inc., an innovative provider of video analytics systems based in Canada.

About the book

Chosen as third among “The Best IT Business Books of 2009” by CIO Insight

“What’s unique about this book is that it’s not only a must-read for the CIO (and everyone else in an IT department); it’s for anyone associated with the technology industry. If you are a manufacturer, seller, or service provider of technology, you will gain insight into what makes an IT department world class.” – CIO Digest

“The new book World Class IT (Jossey-Bass, 2009), by consultant Peter A. High, provides solid, timeless advice for CIOs trying to manage IT for business success.” – Mitch Betts, Computerworld Book Review

“Technology is all around us. It is so pervasive in our daily lives that we may not even recognize when we interact with it. Despite this fact, many companies have yet to leverage information technology as a strategic weapon.

What then is an information technology executive to do in order to raise the prominence of his or her department? In World Class IT, recognized expert in IT strategy Peter High reveals the essential principles IT executives must follow and the order in which they should follow them whether they are at the helm of a high-performing department or one in need of great improvement.

Principle 1: Recruit, train, and retain World Class IT people
Principle 2: Build and maintain a robust IT infrastructure
Principle 3: Manage projects and portfolios effectively
Principle 4: Ensure partnerships within the IT department and with the business
Principle 5: Develop a collaborative relationship with external partners

The principles and associated subprinciples and metrics introduced in World Class IT have been used by IT and business executives alike at many Global 1000 companies to monitor and improve IT’s performance. Those principles pertain as much to the leaders of IT as they do to those striving to emulate them.”

The World Class IT principles in yellow were the focus of this interview

  • 01 1- People
  • 02 2- Infrastructure
  • 03 3- Project and Portfolio Management
  • 04 4- IT & Business Partnership
  • 05 5- External Partnerships

From strategy to implementation

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