The ongoing digital transformation happening in business today has raised the stakes for enterprise IT. Technology has always been an enabler of enterprise success, and any inefficiency in how IT supports the bottom line translates into market vulnerability. It’s never been more important to collaborate with business functions to understand how technology can enable them while simultaneously minimizing the risk with new IT deployments.
One company that clearly embraces the need to approach IT differently is CVS, the huge drugstore and pharmacy retail chain. Recently, Stephen Gold, the CIO at CVS, was referenced in two industry articles talking about how to effectively drive the organization forward through efficient IT investment and execution.
In an article published by CIODive, Gold talked about the ACT framework for IT productivity – Accountability, Collaboration and Tenacity. Accountability is a natural byproduct of a healthy work environment. Gold used the analogy of a player raising his hand after a foul call in a basketball game – team members should own their outcomes, not complain or blame others.
He also stated:
“Collaboration is all about working with our customers on solutions,” Gold said. “The process shouldn’t be a series of handoffs between departments; we need to work together to solve problems. And especially in times of transformation, you need a tenacious organization to carry you through any obstacles that may be standing in the way to success.”
In a recent CIO.com article, Gold argues that evaluating risk in IT projects runs afoul due to human nature. By nature most people are optimistic, and focusing on negative consequences puts most out of their comfort zones. IT personnel had a problem-solving mentality, but not a problem seeking one. From the article:
“According to Gold, most project management literature addresses several critical aspects of managing a project: charters, project membership, status reports, cadence and metrics. ‘These topics are all important and necessary, but they are not sufficient,’ says Gold. ‘I have noticed throughout my career that the skills and tools we are missing the most are those which deal with managing risk.’”
Fostering a healthy work environment, embracing new approaches and making sure you also account for possible failure – the life of an IT leader certainly isn’t getting any easier! Last month we wrote about Polycom CIO Michael Frendo, who talks about how keeping a laser eye on customer issues can lead companies to cooperate with former competitors.
Just as IT must collaborate with business functions to understand how technology can enable and empower them, IT must also look inward at the solutions that make the ACT framework described by CVS’s Gold feasible.
One of the reasons “a series of handoffs” has become such a prevalent problem-solving approach is that it’s easier to delegate or pass off problems to people we can’t see or empathize with and workforces are increasingly distributed this becomes an easier solution to a problem.
Collaboration technology can help to minimize blind delegation by giving it wider visibility than a one-to-one email – the Accountability that’s part of the ACT framework. And visual collaboration technology like video conference builds empathy and keeps workers within and across business functions in alignment and feeling like they’re on the same team.
By going beyond email or instant message and leveraging the power of face-to-face human interaction, visual collaboration helps to develop the trust and camaraderie required for success regardless no matter how difficult the challenge.
The right collaboration technology can also be a support risk management. For example, a major risk associated with a new technology deployment across the enterprise is a lack of user adoption. That same collaboration and empathy that is built through regular collaboration deepens IT’s understanding of use cases and workflows within the business function where the technology is being deployed.
This understanding means solutions can be seamlessly integrated with programs staff already use daily. For instance, making scheduling a video conference in Outlook the same as a team member scheduling an in-person meeting, or escalating a chat in Skype for Business to a video call with the click of a button.
IT leaders have the opportunity to be at the center of their organization’s success throughout its digital transformation. But just being technology experts is no longer enough for an enterprise CIO to succeed. Following the example that Stephen Gold is setting at CVS can be a useful guide for how to ensure that the IT function positions an organization for marketplace success.