Oh I See! Getting CIOs to view their jobs from a different angle

Jun 22 2010   12:54AM GMT

IT Annual Report

Arun Gupta Arun Gupta Profile: Arun Gupta

Almost a decade back, I met the CIO of Intel, who talked about an Annual Report of the IT organization— similar to the Annual Report published by the company for its shareholders. This report made good reading, which at that time presented metrics around availability of systems, uptime of links, number of problem tickets, budget performance, and a few others. At the turn of the century, a lot of these were indeed deemed relevant, and accepted by everyone. The report’s interesting parts depicted ’Voice of Customer’, discussed projects undertaken with their status, impact to business, and customer quotes. It was a slick report, similar to what a company would create with help from Marketing and Advertising.

Fast forward to 2010, when I was listening to a presentation on “Why should IT create an Annual Report”. The examples quoted were from Computer Associates (CA) and Intel. The audience of about 40 IT leaders listened in rapt attention, made notes, consuming the speaker’s insights, who mesmerized the audience. The KPIs were largely different, reflecting evolution of the IT organization and IT leader. Post the presentation, a debate started off on how many in the room did anything similar in terms of KPIs, reports, transparency, or even the basic weekly or monthly presentation at the management meetings; and if they did, what did they report?

Almost everyone had some kind of report being tabled, though not an Annual Report akin to the one that was presented. These hard copies were typically printed and distributed to the stakeholders, with help from an Advertising agency or Marketing department. A large IT company’s CIO mentioned that he has started working on something similar (with external help). He hopes to emulate the success that we all listened to. The thought that crossed my mind was that are CIOs of IT companies a step ahead of the rest of us in the room who represented other non-computer related industries. It was a disconnect, considering that a fair number of IT companies did not provide a seat on the management table to their IT heads.

Thinking for a long while after that, I kept wondering about why I never took the step (despite having the benefit a decade back) and when it was rekindled from memory again. The thought also wandered around as to why the representative Annual IT reports were only from the IT industry. Where were the examples from the large and successful marquee CIOs as well as IT enterprises (of success stories that everyone talks about)? Don’t they need the Annual Report to publish their success story and present it to their shareholders (CXOs and Board)?

I believe that success does not need an anniversary to present, but is shared within the enterprise on occurrence, during frequent management meetings, and gets acknowledgement. The Annual Report is a vehicle to tell the rest of the world what we do well. But maybe, I am totally off the track.

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  • RVA
    Dear Mr. Arun Gupta, We have also had interactions with Intel in their office at Bangalore and had seen this annual report. This is a very different and interesting way of presenting the acheivements and activities of IT. Seldom do we present our achievements to CXOs and top managment. This will also give us a total picture and also reflect on the way to go forward. Ashok RV Sundaram Clayton
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  • FurleyDigital
    Great post Arun - I think you are right on track. Preparing an IT Annual Report is a fantastic way to link IT activity to business strategy, and to highlight achievements that otherwise may be overlooked. I believe IT's influence in organisations is under threat as the function becomes seen as more operational and increasingly reports through Finance. Savvy CIO's recognise the need to counter this through better business engagement, and find that an IT Annual Report is a surprisingly powerful way to do this. Not only does the Annual Report help promote the value IT provides, but the process of compiling one is good for IT. It reinforces the need to focus on what is important to customers, and shines the spotlight on tangible measures of progress. It is disappointing that more CIOs haven’t picked up on the idea of producing an IT Annual Report. Intel has been a ground breaker for IT Annual Reports since 2005, and slowly there are more organisations doing the same, often less publicly. We have worked with some, developing both hard copy and interactive online versions. Often distribution is restricted to internal use and to key suppliers. We have also seen that increasingly consultants like McKinsey are recommending an IT Annual Report.
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