David Neitz, CIO at CDM Smith Inc., a Boston engineering and construction firm, and the winner of this year's MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award, has some advice for CIOs looking to improve IT-business alignment: Don't ask for more money. Instead, get better at IT portfolio management. That means thinking twice about pouring money into IT investments that are underperforming and identifying assets that will generate the most business value.
In this SearchCIO video filmed at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass., Neitz expounds on why thinking like a financial adviser is critical for attaining IT-business alignment.
The theme of this year's MIT conference is thriving in the digital economy. One of the things we've been asking CIOs about is IT-business alignment, and it sounds like you're doing it. How do you build bridges between IT and the business?
David Neitz: Don't go out for more money. That will kill you, if you go out and say, 'Hey, I can do more if you give me more money.' The key, I think, is for you to challenge what you're doing and to challenge your team to think differently. We're all really good at creating to-do lists, not very good at creating the do-not-do lists. What can we stop doing? What capital are we spending, what attention are we spending of our key resources toward things that really don't add value? And how do we stop doing those? How do we free up that time and capital so that we can redirect it to business outcomes? That's creating value for the company, and that's what we did.
So, everything that we've done so far, the incremental IT or business technology spend, is actually zero. We have not asked for any additional money; we've held ourselves accountable to really getting rigorous on our portfolio.
[When it comes to IT investments that are underperforming], just like somebody managing your retirement account, if they don't dump them and replace them with something else, you'd fire them.
Well, they should do the same thing with business technology CIOs [who] don't take care of that. Because it's a critical asset for the enterprise; it's a portfolio that has to be performing well. If it isn't, do something about it. Change it, modify it.
SearchCIO's CIO Minute is a video dispatch providing CIOs and IT executives with tips and trends from leading technology experts.