Change Comes Hard - Digital Transformation is About Us

 Laszlo S. Gonc,   Board Member

Laszlo S. Gonc,

Board Member

GE recently hit the headlines with performance issues in trying to become a "digital industrial" company, its leadership accused of whitewashing the facts. Nike cut back by half its investment in its digital unit, discontinuing its activity tracker and other investments. Lego stopped funding its Digital Designer virtual building program.

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What happened? How did experienced leaders take these large companies to a landscape of digital dreams delayed? As Simon Sinek wrote, we "Start with Why".

All change in organizations is about culture change. Technology continues to change at an ever increasing pace while many of our processes start out sound yet become maladapted to satisfy tight and sometimes unreasonable goals or deadlines. At our recent SIM Spring Gala, we heard transformation expert, Steve Salisbury, share his stories and insights on overcoming critical obstacles and creating successful change in organizations large and small

With typical strategic change, leaders are usually clear about what needs to be accomplished and the tactics it takes to get there. Team members understand and invest in the hard work and heavy lift needed, and progress can be measured. When signals and indicators veer off, course corrections are made. However, research indicates there is something different about digital change that causes leaders in large, well-established organizations to misplace their balanced decision making approaches.

Some of the lessons learned from these high profile failures are:

1) Clear messaging. Digital technology should not be viewed by leaders as a salvation. Leaders need to clearly communicate and articulate the vision, mission and goals of the strategic change. Teams told to "go innovate" often times get lost with the direction to take.

2) People create and sustain change. Digital transformation is not plug-and-play. It requires investment in people, skills, plans, infrastructure and re-tooling IT systems. Focusing on the new technology without tightly integrating the human element often times leads to failure.

3) Timing. Digital investments should be tied to consumer and industry readiness. There are many examples of companies who created innovative products and services ahead of their time, only to be re-engineered and released at a later time when the markets were right.

4) Avoid ripping out what works. When things are not working, implementing new and innovative business models can be incredibly appealing. The attraction of something new can cause leaders to forego much needed attention to upgrading and adapting existing processes and empowering people. Finding a balanced approach to something old and something new builds foundational stability for the upcoming challenges.

Changing an organization's culture is not easy. However, the ingredients to the recipe is not a secret either. Foster a culture of sustainable change by sharing stories and insights with your fellow SIM members. An easy way to stay current in this age of acceleration is to get more involved with upcoming SIM events. Join us on Thursday, April 19th at the Union League Club in Chicago for a partnered event by SIM Chicago and Finance Executive International (FEI) for an opportunity to discuss Cybersecurity and network with your IT peers and Finance executives in the Chicagoland area. It will be a great opportunity to network with the SIM and FEI membership as well.

Partnering for Transformation: CIO and CFO in the Digital Economy!

  Jane von Kirchbach ,  Board Member

Jane von Kirchbach,

Board Member

Over the past decade, digital transformation has taken a central place in today's enterprise. To succeed, organizations must make bold technology investment decisions in line with corporate strategy, while managing cyber security risks and data privacy concerns.

This critical convergence of technology, investment strategy and risk has elevated the CFO-CIO relationship to new levels of importance. However, in many organizations there is still opportunity to build stronger, long-lasting relationships between the CFO and the CIO.

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Below are three ways successful IT leaders are partnering with the CFOs to drive game-changing transformations for their businesses:

1. Enable Finance Transformation
The Finance function is central to digitalization, as it allocates resources, but it frequently lags in applying technologies. Finance often (rationally) allocates IT investments to the revenue-generating and customer-facing areas while managing processes manually within its own function. Many Finance organizations continue to spend most of their time gathering and validating data for internal and external reporting, leaving little bandwidth to support strategic needs of the business. 
 

IT leaders have an opportunity to partner with CFOs to drive digital transformation within Finance functions. Newer technology, such as Artificial Intelligence and RPA, are enabling automation of labor intensive processes in accounting, invoice processing and payroll management. Such transformation gives Finance the opportunity to expand their focus on efficiency and compliance, while evolving their organization to focus on developing strategies, responding to volatility, and capturing new opportunities and business models. 
 

2. Create an Analytics-Driven Organization
Most organizations are working to turn data into actionable business insights, but few have succeeded in fully harnessing the power of their data. While BI and Analytics remain top priorities for most CIOs, information governance, data quality and cultural challenges continue to inhibit progress. 

To raise their game in using data and analytics for competitive advantage, organizations must apply the right combination of technologies, processes and strategies. To be successful, such effort must be sponsored by both IT and business leaders. This is another excellent opportunity for CIO and CFO partnership. Together, they can lead a cultural transformation, helping their organization connect the dots between multiple data streams to identify patterns that will optimize company's growth and align its costs with its strategy. 
 

3. Manage Cybersecurity Risks
The growing number, frequency and impact of cyber-attacks have propelled cybersecurity to the top of the CFO and board agendas in recent months. 

Today's cybercriminals are well-funded, organized structures with the patience to infiltrate company's systems over time to obtain critical information. The infiltrators now have long-term strategies, including attempts to manipulate company's share price, alter financial data, or interfere with large-scale financial transactions.

CFOs must play a greater role in partnering with CIOs to manage cybersecurity, mitigate risks, and protect organization's shareholder value.

The relationship between the CFO and the CIO has always had a strong cost dynamic. IT spend as a percentage of revenue used to be a key metric, and CFOs played a critical role in managing IT project overruns and monitoring costs. Today, technology is becoming crucial to both operational excellence and profitable growth. This creates tremendous opportunities to elevate the CIO and CFO relationship and create new partnerships for transformation, innovation and growth.

Join us on Thursday, April 19th at the Union League Club in Chicago for a partnered event by SIM Chicago and Finance Executive International (FEI) for an opportunity to discuss Cybersecurity and network with your IT peers and Finance executives in the Chicagoland area.

Are You a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?!

  Susan Malish ,  Board Member

Susan Malish,

Board Member

Many of you may have read the story about the carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean.  It's been told many times, many ways, and has been shared with me several times over the course of my career.

I love this story.  It moves me each time I read it aloud, and I share it with colleagues seeking advice, in a course on Leadership, and even with my children as it serves as a fantastic analogy for human character, and the power that we all possess to influence outcomes but often times forget when our will or determination is tested.

This YouTube video is under three minutes and is a nice narration of the story.  Please watch it - it should help you reflect on your power to influence your career, your work environment and your life, and the choices we can all make that transform our response to adversity, our teams, and beyond! 

Are You a Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean? 

So......what are you?!

And finally, cheer for our Loyola University Chicago Ramblers this weekend in the Final Four!  They have made a lot of coffee lately!!!

Welcome to March Madness!

  Dan Vonder Heide ,  Board Member

Dan Vonder Heide,

Board Member

As a Loyola University Chicago employee and alum, Loyola's long-awaited return to the NCAA and their victory yesterday over Miami have me pretty excited. Seeing all the interviews pre- and post-game with Coach Porter Moser, the players, and our team Chaplain, Sister Jean, reminds me just how much effective coaching is an integral part in our role as leaders to ensure our teams have the structure and guidance required to continue to develop and advance over time.  

We've all heard time and again that strong leaders are coaches in some way or another. As leaders we understand that in order to improve the capability of others, we must go beyond traditional management and take on the responsibility of coaching in order to create sustainable team results. This includes developing a sense of trust, pushing our people out of their comfort zone, creating a common goal and having everyone embracing that target, being fully prepared but able to adjust in a moment's notice, and most importantly, recognizing that it takes more than a single player to win a game.

Leaders understand that this approach creates an environment of learning where individual and shared challenges are the first priority.  It's similar to how a successful NCAA coach operates; we're not simply directing a group -- whether it's made up of athletes or programmers or network architects -- but guiding the organization to be greater than the sum of its parts.

As we each look to develop our teams and our own coaching abilities, I encourage you to continue to leverage your SIM membership to its fullest by attending our events. On March 29 SIM will be hosting its Spring Gala with keynote speaker Steve Salisbury, who will be sharing some great ideas about how transformational leaders have taken their companies through serious change. I hope to see you there.

GO RAMBLERS!

Spring in Chicago

  John Fisher  ,  Board Member

John Fisher ,

Board Member

Spring is always an interesting time in Chicago, and even though we had a relatively mild Winter, most of us are ready for a change. Even though some might think it was a bit premature for my neighbor to run the gas out of his snow blower this weekend, I applaud him for leading the neighborhood by embracing change with a positive attitude. Spring brings about change in organizations as well as the weather and each of us should take time this time of year to reflect on how we can make things better in our organizations.

As technology professionals we are often at the forefront of change in our organizations, and as business professionals we understand that change brings about rewards as well as risks. We have all seen the pace and scope of change increase over the past few years, and a lot of CIO's are working hard to bring about a Digital Transformation within their organizations. One of our many jobs as technology leaders is to help our companies move from Business as Usual to the new world where Customer Experience can make or break an organization and where innovative technologies like Blockchain can completely transform the way we work. Some organizations are embracing the Digital Transformation and others need help maintaining a positive approach to change. Transformation is never easy, but it can be exciting, and it is often necessary so that our organization doesn't get Ubered by those unknown competitors out there.

If you are interested in learning more about how companies have successfully gone through global change and transformation, then you will want to join your peers for an evening of interesting discussion and networking at the SIM Spring Gala, on March 29th. The keynote speaker is Steve Salisbury who will be sharing some great ideas about how transformational leaders have taken their companies through serious change.

How far we have come!

  Curtis Spall ,   Board Member

Curtis Spall

Board Member

Dear CIOs and Executive IT Leaders,   

How far we have come!  This became clearer for me after attending the SIM CIO Breakfast Roundtable on March 1st that was well attended by local CIOs.  The topic was CIOs and their relationship with their Board of Directors.  The event was facilitated  by an incredible panel of distinguished executives: two former CIOs of Fortune 500 companies and current board members of name recognized companies, a CEO of an executive consulting company and board member of a Fortune 100 company and an executive recruiter for CEOs and Board of Directors. 

The panelists provided a multitude of insights on how CIOs communicate and build relationships with their Boards and potentially become board members themselves.  During the roundtable dialogue it struck me that the CIO role has progressed from leading a back office department managed as a cost center to influencing the business strategy in the boardroom as IT becomes an essential enabler of market disruption and company growth.  With increasing attention to the role of technology in the business strategy by board of directors, there is an enormous opportunity for CIOs to serve as THE transformative leaders in their companies.  If you believe that to be true, then seeking the insights and experiences of experts as well as your technology peers is as important now as ever! 

I walked out of the event thinking how fortune I was to have access to such an accomplished and experienced group of executive leaders.  For me, there is no better time to be in IT and with a rich set of programs and access to a strong network of IT Leaders, there is no better time to be a SIM Member!

As you continue your journey as a transformative leader, I encourage you to leverage your SIM membership to its fullest by attending our events.   

SIM Philanthropy - Shining a Light

  Tim Waterloo ,  Board Member

Tim Waterloo,

Board Member

A core purpose of SIM Chicago is to give back to the community. SIM members are leaders who are generous with their time, talents and financial treasures to strengthen the IT profession.

SIM Chicago's philanthropy efforts support several worthy organizations including i.c.stars, college scholarships, Chicago Innovation, the Arts & Business Council of Chicago and Feed My Starving Children.

Through the generous donations of 35 sponsors and the individual contributions of 150 golfers, SIM raised $47,850 for i.c.stars at our 2017 Annual Charity Golf Outing. SIM Chicago has proudly donated approximately $168,000 over the past four years to i.c.stars.

SIM members also are generous donating their time and talents to i.c.stars. Several SIM members serve as Board Members, mentors for i.c.stars student projects and speakers at i.c.stars fund raising events. Why not donate one hour of your time to i.c.stars by speaking at a daily High Tea session. Click here for details.

Each year SIM donates $10,000 to sponsor scholarships at Loyola University and DePaul University to assist technology-related studies for promising students.

SIM's partnership with Chicago Innovation supports the mission of creating a thriving innovation ecosystem in the Chicago area. This week's event co-hosted by SIM and Chicago Innovation, "B2Me- Innovation Gets Personal", provided a great educational opportunity for the community.

SIM supports the Arts & Business Council of Chicago via our Winter Social which is held at intriguing art galleries each year. In 2017 SIM members gathered for our initial give back event which was held at Feed My Starving Children. Thirty members and guests donated two hours of their time to help a large crew of volunteers pack 36,936 meals formulated to feed malnourished children in Cuba.

The SIM Board of Directors and SIM Philanthropy team thank you for your generosity which has enabled our giving to these worthy causes. Your membership in SIM is an easy way to help others. Please renew your SIM membership now so we can continue our philanthropic good works in 2018.

Where IT Leaders Connect

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  Rob McGillen ,  Board Member

Rob McGillen,

Board Member

Musicians.  Athletes. Artists. Philanthropists. Parents. Grandparents.  This photo, taken recently at our SIM Board dinner, illustrates well the benefits of membership in SIM.  During the night together, we celebrated family achievements, supported career transitions, grieved for friends' loss, and shared in our respective life journeys.  

The tag line "Where IT Leaders Connect" is the abiding philosophy for SIM.  We host monthly social events and sponsor philanthropic works for our members.   Moreover, we provide a forum to connect and opportunity to help our members grow.

Leadership in any capacity can be a lonely role.  Our membership is composed of hundreds of leaders in Chicago responsible for technology and business decisions, often with millions (if not billions) at stake.  Risks, corporate pressures, and ambitions all factor in.     

Finding like-minded, experienced, and supportive friends is something you find in the SIM organization.  Unlike other membership organizations in town focused solely on glitz and glamour events - SIM provides our members a place to find kindred spirits, exceptional advisors, and those who want to share their journey with you.  

In the next weeks, the Spring season begins for our members.   CIO roundtables, our Spring gala, expert speakers, and philanthropic events are all scheduled.   For our membership, the chance to connect is here once again.   We look forward to seeing you soon, and sharing a bit of your journey together.     

Changes over the years

  Bruce Schinelli ,   Board Member

Bruce Schinelli

Board Member

I was reflecting with a colleague last week that I recently passed a work anniversary; eleven years as CIO at the same company.  As we conversed, it struck me that the conversation and topics at CIO or senior IT leadership events had changed dramatically over that span of time.  In 2007, typical meetings and seminars at events might have been; "Is IT relevant?", "How to Engage with the Business", "How to Get a Seat at the Table", and perhaps my favorite, "Will there be CIO's in the Future." If you listened to the research agencies and councils, most CEO's and other executives, if they thought about IT, didn't think much of it.  While this continued for a while (2007 coincidentally bringing the introduction of the iPhone), the rise of digitally enabled forces like mobile were causing the disruption of entire business models.  The easy access to external cloud services fueled the next level of angst and predictions; "50% of all IT spending will be outside the IT budget", "How do you control/stop/take advantage of Shadow IT" or "Get close to your Marketing Officer, they'll have all of the budget."  But at the same time, there were indications that thinking was changing.  The same research was showing that as businesses got Kodak'd (entire business models digitally disrupted), the awareness of the criticality of IT was climbing.  Still, though, the cautions were rampant about the rise of CDO's (the "D" being either Digital, Data or both) who would dilute the influence of the CIO, and advice was to not get caught with the plumbing.  Around the same time, Security moved from a few prescient professionals shouting into the wilderness before the Target breach to the constant drumbeat it is today.  In addition, the bills started to come due for all of the outside services, and it was evident that they couldn't connect to anything you already had. 

In 2016, a survey by Lloyds of London showed the number one risk perceived by Global CEO's was Cyber risk - and they didn't mean just security.  Diving into the numbers, they were not only worried about Security, but their businesses being digitally disrupted, and they were talking to their CIO's more than ever.  This leads to today, where the percentage of CIO's reporting to the CEO has never been higher, and it's rising each year.  That we have numerous examples of CIO's that have moved on to COO and CEO.  That there's no end to pace of change and technologies that could disrupt our business models and companies.  So, my conclusion is: There's never been a better time to be in Technology, and never have we as senior IT leadership had more opportunity to add value.  Today, very few are worried about a seat at the table; it's more likely IT leadership is getting asked first, because you simply can't get compete effectively without an effective strategy, and all business strategies have an IT component.

Which brings me to my main point: if you're getting this, you're already part of the best IT community to share great ideas, successes and challenges.  Don't just be a member, get out to events and hear how your peers are dealing with the forces shaping the business of the future; and just maybe take something back that drives value for your company.

2018 New Year's Resolutions!

  Mark McGee ,  Board Member

Mark McGee,

Board Member

On January 11th we kicked off the SIM 2018 programs with our exciting Winter Social, which brought in a large turnout to Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) with incredible Artwork, Food, Networking, and Philanthropy as SIM made a large donation to Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC). 

The beginning of each new year I reflect on the previous year and think about the next 12 months, what goals I would like to accomplish, what to do differently, new habits to start and others to get rid of (New Year's Resolutions!) Here are some questions to ponder for this year... How has your career progressed in the past year? Has your network and relationships expanded or contracted? Continuing education? Where can you make a positive impact and give back? Can you get more involved and being more social? Work Life Balance, time to have a bit more fun this year! 

Please be sure to renew your SIM membership if you have not already done so and take better advantage of the membership and the incredible network (SIM Chicago is one of the largest chapters in the United States and the best Senior Level IT Network in Chicago). It is well documented that your ability of achieving goals increases by over 50% by putting them in writing. Please take 5 minutes and schedule yourself for all the upcoming programs this year 2018 SIM Program Calendar.