IT Doesn’t Stand for ‘Ivory Tower’

A CIO that is trying to make his organization more responsive to customer needs

Airport SunriseOn a quick flight to New York City yesterday, I happen to be seated next to a guy that is CIO for a mid-size healthcare company. Naturally, the former tech journalist and current tech marketer in me asked him all sorts of questions about his business, his role and, naturally, the technology he is utilizing at work. It definitely wasn’t an attempted sales pitch since I’m not “coin operated”; more a chance to see if the stuff we think our customers think is actually true.

My fellow passenger has been in the role for less than a year and was happy to talk about the various projects and undertakings his organization. (I fully disclosed my role at CA.) While there was the usual run of the mill technology updates – virtualization, electronic medical records implementations, physical hardware upgrades to the dozens of sites his organization runs  – he also talked about changing the ways IT does business by getting closer aligned to business and the end customer. In this case, the customers are the clinicians, residents and guests of his organization’s facilities. As CIO, it is IT’s job to support the customers and the business objectives. He fully embraces the idea that IT can no longer live in the “ivory tower” and work in a silo.

One of the organizational/cultural shifts he was trying to get his staff to make is to be more responsive to customer needs. For instance, when upgrades to critical applications are done, there should be a small group of power users involved in the testing and early roll out to make sure the changes are right before being pushed out to the entire company.

I guess this practice was a bit foreign to the existing team members as one asked, “How do we know if the customer is happy?”

“Ask them!” he said.

I guess the former CIO wasn’t big on having staff members talk to customers, but it’s his belief that every IT employee should be in tune with the business. That they should check in regularly to ensure what IT is doing makes a positive impact on the customer and the business.

His views on the role of IT, what’s happening with BYOD (it’s here) as well as how IT has to keep up with demand while continuing to innovate were refreshing and a positive reinforcement to the things we’re seeing in the market as well.

Plus, good conversation on a flight always makes the time go by so much faster.

How does your IT organization know it is meeting customer needs? Leave a comment below or tweet your answer to @jmeserve.

Jason Meserve

About Jason Meserve

Jason Meserve has been working in high-tech for over 15 years. He built his tech resume in the 10 years he spent as a journalist at Network World, where he created everything from articles, features, blogs, videos and podcasts. Mr. Meserve is currently a Principal Product Marketing Manager at CA Technologies where he focuses on Service Assurance solutions including Application Performance Management. Mr. Meserve has also held marketing and editorial positions at Constant Contact and Application Development Trends.

One Response to IT Doesn’t Stand for ‘Ivory Tower’

  1. Rose June 19, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Hi Jason: this sounds a lot like what Patti Gauvin tries to accomplish each and every day in both her regular job and with her contacts with brain tumors awareness
    groups.