Organisations are under immense pressure to drive change to meet customer demand and stay ahead of the competition. To achieve this innovation nirvana, it\u2019s crucial that IT groups move from being reactive cost centres to proactive providers of business solutions.\nPanellists at the CIO Summit in Sydney discussed how IT aligns with overall business strategy, works and communicates with c-level execs, and serves as a measuring tool to help organisations rate IT\u2019s overall performance.\nDarren Warner, regional director, infrastructure and operations at commercial real estate services firm, CBRE Asia Pacific, said at the simplest level IT sends a survey to users after the completion of every 10 tickets asking users to rate the team's performance.\n\u201cOn a wider scale, we are looking at return on investment, speed of delivery \u2013 so it\u2019s a combination of those factors,\u201d he said.\nWarner agrees that performance ratings can be somewhat of a \u2018double-edged sword\u2019, as staff will rate IT highly when things are going well but poorly as soon as there are application and network issues.\n\u201cYou probably get one positive piece of feedback for every 100 things that you do if you are lucky. People are always quick to tell you when you are wrong,\u201d he said.\nOne IT head from an international women's clothing retailer said he recently set up a web-based service management portal that has provided discipline that the organisation hasn\u2019t had in the past.\n\u201cWe are starting to log tickets properly and assign them to the right people. So what we are doing is sending those tickets out and at the end when you resolve [an issue], there\u2019s a survey.\n\u201cWe put in a 10-point survey, a net promoter thing \u2013 it didn\u2019t get a huge uptake because people sort of looked at that and went \u2018nope, too complicated, I don\u2019t want to worry about it'."\nTo overcome this, IT simply added 'happy, mediocre and unhappy faces' to make it easier for staff to rate performance, he said.\n\u201cAs soon as we get one [an unhappy or mediocre face] \u2026 we pick up the phone and we walk around and ask [the user], \u2018what\u2019s the issue?\u2019\n\u201cThat\u2019s worked very well for us, we get a lot of feedback on those types of things and funnily enough, that\u2019s actually driven adoption of the portal as well,\u201d he said.\nLogicalis Australia CEO, Basil Reilly, added that although this IT head is surveying customers and ensuring they are happy, what will secure his future the most is the fact that he plays tennis with the CEO.\n\u201cSo when he screws up, and he will because he\u2019s in IT ... what will keep him in his job is the fact that he has that relationship.\n\u201cThe [CEO] is going to go, \u2018explain to me what\u2019s gone wrong here?\u2019 And they\u2019ll have a discussion \u2018human to human\u2019 rather than [the CEO saying], \u2018that d***head doesn\u2019t know what he\u2019s doing.'\n\u201cThat\u2019s what we are missing in IT, those skills of stakeholder management, communication and marketing \u2013 we really don\u2019t do enough of that.\u201d\nInstead, IT heads are still too busy sitting up at 2am in the morning worrying if the ERP system is still running, he said.\n\u201cThat\u2019s why the business partner role is starting to look at some of that and a number of organisations are doing that to start managing the politics, managing stakeholders, knowing who likes you and who doesn\u2019t,\u201d he said.\nThe IT head said that clothing retailer is a very culturally-driven company and communication is often informal.\n\u201cWe are not big around formalised meetings \u2026 any of that formality that you would find a bigger organisation. In fact, coming down here [to Sydney] I bought a jacket on Sunday because I haven't owned one for quite a while.\n\u201cWhat it means for me is building those relationships, I spent a lot of time with my peer executives, with the CEO, with the CFO as well, talking about where we are headed and what we are doing.\n\u201cThere\u2019s no set agenda, it\u2019s getting in front of them and building that rapport and trust and really from a CIO\u2019s perspective, I\u2019ve always seen it as our responsibility to understand the business and not for them to understand us in effect and drive that relationship building and immerse yourself into the business,\u201d he said.\nHe added that he is often accused by friends of \u2018drinking the kool-aid\u2019 when he moves from business to business.\n\u201cBut I feel that you really need to understand it [a business] or you can\u2019t make reasonable decisions. I\u2019ve come from a technical background \u2013 my strategy moving forward is that I\u2019ve got to understand the people better or it\u2019s never going to work,\u201d he said.\n\u201cI spend a lot of time canvassing vendors, doing a lot of reading and making sure I can come up with solutions that might fit what I call the \u2018digital playbook'.\n\u201cWe need to present these retailers with a list of arrows in a quiver, which we can then present to them to use in a coordinated fashion. Particularly in retail that needs to be dynamic, it needs to be built with components, not a silver bullet approach,\u201d he said.\nCatering to LOBs\nMeanwhile, CBRE\u2019s Warner said technology staff have been introduced across the organisation\u2019s business lines to provide much needed feedback around what each division needs from IT.\n\u201cOne thing about our organisation is that there are so many facets of real estate and they are quite different. If you are valuing a property, it\u2019s quite different to managing a property or selling or leasing a property.\n\u201cWe have put people into each of these business lines and allowed them to be the ears and eyes for us in IT, and then we have taken that feedback back,\u201d he said.\nAlthough there are still going to be IT solutions that are delivered centrally, Warner said these don\u2019t provide competitive advantage for individual lines of business.\n\u201cAnyone can give you email, anyone can give you a telephone but it\u2019s an application within a business line that really helps them drive their business,\u201d he said.