CIO takes a people-based approach to new service

David Mann, CIO at The Word & Brown Cos., and his staff wrote AgencyPro for his customers. It is people who make software work, he says.

Award winner: David Mann, CIO, The Word & Brown Cos.

Award-winning project: Implemented a browser-based customer relationship management system.

Hear from our award winner
David MannListen in as David Mann talks with news writer Zach Church about his work as CIO at Word & Brown.
Industry: Health care administration

Number of employees: 1,000; 140 in IT

Time in job: Three years

Educational background: Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the University of California at Irvine. Master's degree in business.

First job: Technology manager at American Financial Corp.

Best advice you've ever received: Working IT as a business. I believe that IT should have, really, different parts of a business itself. IT has to have its mission, it has to have its business plan, it has to have return on investment. The customer in IT is very clear: It's the business.

Best career move: When I joined Word & Brown. I think that was a great opportunity because it gave me a chance to be extremely innovative in a number of different areas.

Biggest career influence: [Company founders] John Word and Rusty Brown. They are true leaders and they care so much. They have an extreme passion for their business.

Award-winning IT
Why this project worked: Because of people. I really think that software is designed and architected by people for people. As long as you do not forget about those two aspects, the project is going to be successful.

How you sold it to management: It definitely took a while. People were used to their old system and technology. But as far as a lot of our managers, they are very, very open minded and they wanted to look at a true return on investment. I put together a very comprehensive return on investment for the project.

What the judges said: Showed a solid connection to the new business ASP offering, and to the use of agile methods to improve IT agility.

Best technology decision: I believe technology by itself is useless unless it brings some value to clients. As far as purely technology is concerned, the .NET conversion, because it really opened up an opportunity for us to complete our applications and services that our customers truly need.

Biggest IT challenge: Cultural change. Once you go to an environment [with] people and processes that are 20 years old, then you want to bring that to par with the industry to provide the best services to the customer.

Best personality trait: I am fun and I'm just humble. I personally respect people very, very much and I'm extremely, extremely open minded. I like to listen to any idea.

Worst personality trait: I'm a workaholic.

Hobby: Spending time with family and friends. On the personal level, I'm very interested in the field of astronomy. I'm an amateur astronomer. I do research and I do write, some astronomy and some science fiction.

Alter-ego career: I would just be running a business. In heart, in fact, before I'm a technologist and IT, I'm truly a businessman. That's why I believe IT should really be a business. It really should transform from a cost center to a profit center.

Current reading: A motivational speaker named Byrd Baggett.

Next big technology: Anything that has to do with extreme collaboration and social [networking]. Bringing people and the power of the many versus the power of one. That's the future of our technology.

One word of advice to IT pros coming up the ranks: Keep your eye on the customer. Have the customer always in mind first and keep it simple.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Zach Church, News Writer

2008 CIO Decisions Midmarket IT Leadership Award Winners
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