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Wyndham, Omnicom CIOs improve business operations with tech finesse, people skills

NEW YORK — In the digital age, IT projects are often focused on making IT processes more efficient and thus more responsive to business demand — a move to the public cloud to scale up or down as needed, for example, or using agile project management to get innovative applications out the door fast.

Other IT projects have the sole purpose of helping the business run better and more efficiently. CIOs at the Argyle CIO Leadership Forum here on Tuesday swapped examples of using technology to improve business operations — and sharpen the way business does business.

For Kenneth Corriveau, CIO at Omnicom Media Group, implementing collaboration tools such as Slack has made it easier to exchange ideas and information and has “flattened the hierarchical nature of the organization.”

The company, a division of global marketing and corporate communications company Omnicom Group, helps organizations determine where and how to place ads for products and services. It has a youthful workplace, Corriveau said, with approximately 60% of employees not yet 30.

“They’re coming out of school or college with access to tools and information on a whim,” he said. “So how do we provide an environment where they can Google it, find a tool, go out there, download it and use it?”

Corriveau is doing that by providing “guardrails,” so IT can have oversight into what new applications are getting added.

The opposite of that visibility into employees ordering up their own online services — what’s known as shadow IT, or IT operations existing under IT’s radar — is what Barbara Spengler, CIO at Wyndham Destination Network, wanted to shed light on. The company is a division of Wyndham Worldwide, owner of the Wyndham hotel chain, and manages a variety of rental accommodations and timeshares.

“Every department was going off and partnering and signing up for licensing agreements with certain vendors,” Spengler said, “But they got to a point where they realized they needed some IT help,” especially with integrating data with back-end systems.

So she went to the application providers with the aim of putting more control over capabilities and features into business users’ hands, “so that IT isn’t the bottleneck for things.”

Now a handy partnership between IT and business has worked to improve business operations at the company. “We’re working very closely with them and trying to get them to own and manage a lot of the technology themselves.”