CIO Perspectives: How to Make IT the Fabric of Your Business

According to Gartner, almost half of enterprise CIOs are focusing more of their IT resources on improving the customer experience through digital leadership. It’s imperative that these CIOs partner with with business counterparts to develop a unified vision and strategy as they transform the IT organization and workforce capabilities.

To accomplish this, IT executives have to rely on skills that aren’t taught in graduate programs and may not come naturally to everyone.

On Tuesday, October 27, Larry Bonafante, CIO at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and founder of CIO Bench Coach, will join Intuit QuickBase for a webinar to discuss the new expectations of the CIO and practical steps to drive alignment between IT and the business. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is the national governing body for the sport of tennis and the recognized leader in promoting and developing the sport’s growth on every level in the United States. CIO Bench Coach offers executive coaching that helps IT executives and their teams develop critical skills in human dynamics.

Larry has been recognized with numerous industry accolades, including a nomination to the CIO Hall of Fame. He was named one of CIO Magazine’s CIO 100 and one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders. At the USTA, Larry led a corporate culture change initiative which broke down silos and established a more collaborative & innovative enterprise. He also implemented a Cloud Computing strategy which lowered operational costs by 60 percent and capital investments by 20 percent all while improving availability and enhancing USTA business continuity capabilities.

Just after another successful U.S. Open this summer, I spoke with Larry on the topic of proactively aligning business and IT. He spoke to the importance of communicating with the business in terms everyone can understand.

“We speak business language, not Geek Speak! We created a senior position called Client Relationship Manager that lives, eats, and drinks with their clients in the business and act as the proxy in identifying and advocating technology needs for the business. We also provide a monthly report that explains in business terms the value of the technology investments the organization is making to drive our mission,” says Bonafante.

When it comes to roadblocks, Bonafante says IT executives need to develop credibility and relationships before people will invest time and energy into your approach. “You need to turn around the naysayers,” he adds.

Working with the business is something Bonafante knows intimately from his experience with the U.S. Open and with popular grassroots programs.

“It [the U.S. Open] generates 90 percent of our annual revenue. We also work closely with our mission based clients in Community Tennis to create digital products for our members and players,” he says.

When I asked Larry how the CIO and IT organization skill set and capability need to change in the new digital age, he suggested breaking down the divide between people, process, and technology.

“We need to be relationship managers, project managers and process managers, not just managers of technology and systems,” he says.

How can the CIO help the enterprise balance innovation and the need for industrialization and resiliency?

“Since technology is the key underpinning of most innovation, no one is more critical to this process than the CIO. He or she needs to collaborate with their business peers to ensure that technology is leveraged that creates the best consumer experience.”

What information and technologies need to be addressed to support digital? “Big Data, Analytics, System Integration, Ubiquitous services/infrastructure.”

Join Larry Bonfante for an enlightening Webinar discussion in “CIO Perspectives: How to Make IT the Fabric of Your Business,” on Tuesday, October 27 at 1:00 PM ET.



Related Posts

Posted in Business & IT Alignment, Citizen Development, Democratization of IT | Tagged , , ,


  • jimjr11

    Of course it all depends on who the CIO reports to. I’ve been unscrambling IT projects for over thirty years and in only one case was the problem IT. When we get the CEO to accept the CIO as a direct report our recommendation comes with a road map.

    When fully implemented the CIO is a true peer of the other officers and presents IT scheduling and priority setting to officers staff on a regular basis. I have to admit that going through one of these transformations is somewhat entertaining. The CIO is basically saying here’s what I have to spend, here’s what you’re (the officers and the CEO) are telling me to do, and here’s the requests for which there are no authorized dollars. Wha would you like me to do. Deer in the head lights the first few meetings.

    Also, because the CIO is a peer, if a project isn’t ready to start (requirements etc) he can yell out, the business hasn’t finished designing it, I’m not going to start building it until we now what it is.

    Lets not forget that the money belongs to the enterprise, the CIO should not be setting the priorities and the corporate bully shouldn’t be getting any more than he can justify. The officers should be competing for IT dollars based on the best return to the enterprise. Until the CEO is involved in the priority setting the squeaky wheel gets the oil, not the best value. Giving CIO’s advice their reporting relationship and culture can not support is just silly.

  • Pingback: Want IT-Business Alignment? Walk In Their Shoes | The Fast Track()