Management Strategies

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Madge Meyer, State Street
Madge Meyer, State Street
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The 3 Pillars of IT Infrastructure Transformation

Listening, relationships and urgency are the pillars of an effective CIO's IT management strategy, advises State Street's Madge Meyer.

While many people are not familiar with the traditional Chinese characters for listen (ting), relationship (guanxi) and urgency (jin ji), collectively they represent three pillars of wisdom necessary to successfully transform IT infrastructure based on sound business, people and technology management principles. Understanding the underlying concepts beneath these pillars and how they can be used to support numerous business objectives, ranging from managing IT expenses to improving client services, can be helpful in optimizing every organization's IT infrastructure.

Listening to Align IT and the Business

The Chinese character ting (for listen) is as sophisticated in its etymology as it is essential to achieving the best IT business practices. This character is made up of four distinct parts that inspire the team to listen to leaders' visions, treat customers as king, collaborate with key partners and commit wholeheartedly to excellence. Collectively, these philosophies convey the idea of interactive communication.

Listening is the critical step toward aligning an organization's IT infrastructure with its optimal business strategy. Seemingly obvious yet often overlooked, consulting key stakeholders - senior management, clients, vendors and employees - is an indispensible precursor to instituting effective business management practices.

Combining feedback from these committed stakeholders with disciplined fact-driven financial management empowers IT teams to create better solutions faster and to use IT resources more efficiently and effectively, and enables IT professionals to respond to changing business requirements, client expectations and advances in technology.

Cultivating Relationships

The era when technical expertise alone was sufficient for a successful career in IT has come and gone. Today's IT professionals also must have a variety of other skills to succeed. Key among those skills is the ability to build relationships for the second pillar, guanxi (for relationship), which can be leveraged to help them better understand and resolve problems, prioritize tasks and navigate increasingly complex global organizations.

Building strong personal relationships is also necessary to foster partnerships, which are vital in maintaining competitive leadership. Such relationships can help build the consensus required to create global solutions, instead of taking diverse geographical approaches that impair efficiency. Importantly, strong relationships also promote an environment in which the escalation of issues, an often essential step in solving problems, is mutually encouraged.

Urgency Drives Technology Management

Jin ji, the Chinese word for urgency, constitutes the third pillar and highlights the need to take immediate action to constantly seek better solutions. Urgency is an inevitable force in technology management that can be addressed by creating a long-term IT strategy. By executing that strategy within their local businesses, organizations can progressively renew their future technology infrastructures while concurrently improving performance and efficiency.

One way of doing this is by creating a technology blueprint allowing organizations to position themselves to adapt and respond, and to avoid being tethered down by fixed costs. Such a blueprint then can be aligned with lifecycle management practices to help improve infrastructure reliability and performance, while controlling - and often reducing - current and future spending.

Madge Meyer is EVP and head of global infrastructure services at State Street.

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