by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2016 #26-50: Steve Godbee, IBM

Nov 24, 2016
Technology Industry

When Steve Godbee commenced the role of CIO at IBM Australia and New Zealand in December 2011, most of his time was spent on operations and ‘keeping the IT engine running’.

“The majority of my time is now spent on business engagement activities, innovative solutions and transformational initiatives,” Godbee says.

“While the balance of time has changed considerably, the operational aspects are just as critical as ever. However, as our operations have matured, reliability has increased, which has resulted in significantly less need for me to get involved in day-to-day operational aspects.”

This frees up time for transformative activities and a key solution Godbee has been focused on over the past 12 months is IBM’s ‘Workplace of the Future’ initiative, a ‘mobile first’ strategy.

This flexible working initiative involves supporting a highly mobile workforce with cloud, software-as-a-service, and ‘best of breed’ internal and external apps, accessed from any mobile device. Godbee and his team have also worked with IBM’s real estate and human resources partners to transform IBM’s offices into agile, activity-based workspaces using the latest technology.

“The transformation program is not so much about automating core business processes – rather it’s about transforming the way we work,” says Godbee. “Providing people with the capability, tools and information to conduct their work from wherever they are and at any time with the ultimate objective of enabling them to service clients more effectively.”

A common global platform

Over the past year, Godbee and his team have rolled out enhanced technologies for Big Blue’s client facing teams in line with the company’s move from providing localised systems to common, standard global solutions.

This has included providing iPads to sellers, and delivering a comprehensive suite of applications through an internal app catalogue.

Core applications across the business – including email, collaboration, payroll, HR and travel/expenses – have been progressively moved from on-premise solutions to the cloud.

Staff can also now choose a Mac or a PC with provisioning moved from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to automatic provisioning based on an individual’s job role. Macs are already provisioned using this model and PCs are planned to move by the end of the year.

Godbee’s team has also introduced an enhanced helpdesk where people can use smartphones (iOS and Android) to access applications from the catalogue as long as they comply with policy and guidelines.

“In addition, we have upgraded core IT infrastructure in our offices to support an agile workplace,” says Godbee. “This has included deploying an upgraded core and wireless network, which facilitates the primary method of connectivity and ‘follow me’ printing.”

Structural and cultural impacts

Any significant change has its challenges, and it is vital to go into any such change with your eyes open, says Godbee. Even the most outstanding new technologies could become ‘white elephants’ if aspects beyond the technology itself are not considered and addressed.

“While any new adopter of technology is likely to have growing pains, these can, and usually are, addressed quickly. If a real ‘showstopper’ is encountered, it is important to make a decision to ‘course correct’ or ‘fail fast’ and look for an alternate solution. Using Agile practices are disciplines are particularly valuable in these contexts,” he says.

The real challenges tend to extend beyond the technology and relate more to the process and culture. This is where process, simplification and organisational change management have been particularly valuable, says Godbee.

“Refining processes to both improve and simplify have proved to be of great value. Change management has been a key tool for managing stakeholders and for taking people along on the cultural change journey,” he says.

“It’s important not to look at business process excellence, IT-enablement, and culture and people in isolation. All three are very connected and integrated and bringing these elements together will be how we achieve meaningful, sustainable change.”

Byron Connolly