CIO's - This is Your Moment
By Creighton Warren, CIO, USG Corp
Creighton Warren, CIO, USG Corp
We’re believers that there’s no better time than now to be a CIO because of the transformative power and ubiquitous nature of technology.
IT has become the ultimate multi-disciplinary function because technology is critical to every function within every company. Our careers have been grounded in IT, which enabled us to assist our internal clients and learn the company’s diverse functions from the inside out. CIOs, as IT professionals, you are at the center of the business.
USG Corp., like other global companies, confronts more sophisticated technological, regulatory, economic and environmental challenges every day. IT is at the center of integrating solutions to resolve those business issues.
Yes, to succeed in IT, you need to be a technically sound and bring excellence to the execution of every project. But you also need to hone your skills as collaborators solve the business problem at hand.
The secret every successful CIO knows is that being in IT provides the opportunity to learn your company’s business from the experts. Helping to solve your customer’s toughest problems holds the keys to the kingdom of running the business. In essence, IT is the one role where you literally get to see how everything in the company runs.
Both of us began our work at USG on a project we called LinX, a customer satisfaction initiative that involved the enterprise rollout of core business process applications that enabled USG to collect, store, manage and interpret data from its business activities.
Today’s CIOs are technology strategists, working alongside top leadership to apply technology solutions to the company’s biggest issues
It was something much more basic from our customer’s point of view – a system that enabled customers to know whether we had the product and when they would receive it. Back in 2000, that was an almost impossible task across USG’s 70-plant network in North America.
In order to implement that project, we had to truly understand the manufacturing process in the plants, the logistics of shipping and the customers’ true wants and needs.
Spending months in the field, in plants and with customers proved foundational to our careers at USG and still serves us well today. There were so many USG colleagues shared their expertise. And the generosity of our co-workers was critical to the success of the project. Not only did many people help us to be smarter and better at our jobs, but we forged the deep bonds across the company that make work more far more satisfying.
That’s the power of true multi-disciplinary collaboration. By combining our perspective and expertise and tailoring solutions to solve the specific problems at hand, the outcome becomes more than the sum of the parts.
IT is the best job in the company because it entitles you to be in everyone’s business, learn about the function, and help leaders become more effective. At the same time, you’re developing a deeper and more intimate knowledge of the company, increasing your value.
CIOs can become the most versatile, most well-rounded practitioners in the company. Today’s CIOs are technology strategists, working alongside top leadership to apply technology solutions to the company’s biggest issues.
Today’s CIOs must have the financial acumen to manage significant, multi-dimensional budgets that include personnel, hardware, software, outsourcers, cloud providers, telecommunications providers, integrators, emerging technology, etc. And, every CIO can attest to how fun it is to manage technology vendors and their quota expectations as well as their own CFO’s perspectives on IT investments!
CIOs must also successfully lead complex execution. Very rarely is something in IT accomplished by one individual or discipline. It takes the coordinated effort of multi-disciplinary skill to run the day-to-day operations and is even more critical to successfully drive business change efforts.
Being in technology, CIOs often get first glimpse at what emerging technology trends can mean to innovating or disrupting business operations to help inform the overall company strategy.
Being well-rounded in technology strategy, financial management, IT organizational design, technology management, and business strategy are all essential CIO attributes. However, our belief is that forging strong business relationships as well as fostering a collaborative environment for multi-disciplinary execution are required to enable you to help your organization reach its full potential leveraging technology.
What an opportunity you have every day to work with the smartest leaders in your company to make it better, to solve it's problems, to take advantage of the opportunities and take your company into the future.
This is your time CIOs: Seize it.