The perennial problem facing IT: How do we make our IT organizations more knowledgeable about our business? A close corollary: How do we make the business people we import into the CIO\u2019s organization, more knowledgeable about IT?\nBrad Clay, CIO of Lexmark, which delivers printing, imaging, and software solutions, has found an answer to both questions.\u00a0\n[ Learn from your peers: Check out our State of the CIO 2018 report on the challenges and concerns of CIOs today.\u00a0| Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO Leader newsletter. ]\nClay joined Lexmark in 2002 and worked in supply chain, IT, and finance for 14 years before becoming CIO in 2016. He inherited a strong IT team, but he saw room for improvement in IT\u2019s relationship with its business partners, particularly with sales and marketing. So, Clay decided to fill some key IT leadership positions with people currently serving in business functions outside of IT.\u00a0\n\u201cI needed people who had credibility with their teams and were strong communicators and leaders,\u201d he says. \u201cIn IT, we were more focused on bits and bytes than on relationships. This is particularly true with sales and marketing because we really don\u2019t speak the same language.\u201d\nNon-IT people were a better fit\nClay opened up a leadership position in application development and support for the sales organization. This would be the person who owns the executive relationship with the chief revenue officer and vice president of enterprise channels, service, and sales. Several people applied for the role, some from IT and some from non-IT business functions. He found that the non-IT candidates were a better fit for the position.\n Lexmark\n\nBrad Clay, CIO, Lexmark\n\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s really hard to sell the chief revenue officer on a candidate if that person has never sold anything,\u201d Clay says. \u201cWithout that credibility, the job is an uphill climb. You can earn it eventually, but it takes a lot of time. It\u2019s hard to replicate the knowledge gained through 20 years in sales. I can\u2019t train someone on what it\u2019s like to make a sales call.\u201d\nIn the end, Clay filled the role with someone who had been selling managed print services for Lexmark and had a long background in professional services. (The chief revenue officer and sales vice presidents were a part of the interview committee.) He has filled several additional leadership positions with candidates outside of IT, including his CISO, who came from product development, which at Lexmark, has a strong security component. He estimates that 10 percent of his 400 people came from the business side, all currently serving in leadership positions.\nHiring from outside of IT goes a long way toward establishing strong relationships with business leaders, but those relationships can go south quickly if delivery and support aren\u2019t there. The challenge Clay faced: how to make the business imports smart about IT.\n\u201cWhen people consider a move into IT, they think they need to be technical,\u201d says Clay. \u201cBut we don\u2019t need technical people in our applications leadership roles. We need our IT leaders to understand the profession of IT \u2014 what we do and how we do it \u2014 and to leverage their strong relationships to allow us to deliver new functionality more quickly.\u201d\nFormal training program\nClay has turned the need for his business imports to understand the profession of IT into a formal training program, complete with a certification.\n\u201cOur training program starts with the recognition that the IT profession is not java or HANA or whatever,\u201d says Clay. \u201cIT is about core processes, like ITIL, and change, incident, and release management. We follow the same processes regardless of technology.\u00a0 I don\u2019t think we\u2019ve had anyone who hasn\u2019t had their eyes opened during ITIL training. People new to IT did not realize the importance of how IT governs itself.\u201d\nOnce trainees have an understanding of ITIL, Clay brings them into Lexmark\u2019s strategic operations control center where they can monitor applications and network performance.\n\u201cThis is where the rubber meets the road,\u201d says Clay. \u201cIt\u2019s hard for people who have not grown up in IT to understand the impact that cutting corners on processes has on operations. If someone doesn\u2019t open a ticket \u2014 and just sends an email to tech support \u2014 then we can\u2019t get to the root cause and fix the problem long-term. That\u2019s the next \u2018A-ha\u2019 moment in the training program.\u201d\nWith ITIL and the operations control center under their belts, trainees are ready for GLSS, short for \u201cglobally scaled solutions,\u201d Lexmark\u2019s continuous deployment methodology. \u00a0\n\u201cEveryone knows that IT designs and develops applications for functionality, but the real point of GLSS is that we are also designing for supportability,\u201d says Clay.\nDuring this phase of the training program, Clay wants trainees to learn two major points:\n\nIt is important to design for supportability as much as functionality.\nIT\u2019s job is not to automate a process, it\u2019s to help business partners solve problems.\n\n\u201cWhen a business partner comes to you with a requirement, your job is to address the business problem, like reducing complexity when setting up a new customer, not just delivering the technology,\u201d Clay tells the team.\nThe entire training program should take less than six months, after which trainees receive a certificate and are ready to lead in applications.\n\u201cAt the end of the day, I need a value proposition for why strong business leaders should join IT, and I need them to be effective when they get here,\u201d says Clay. \u201cThe training program gets them going on driving change right back into the business.\u201d\nAbout Brad Clay\nBrad Clay is senior vice president, chief information and compliance officer with Lexmark, a position he\u2019s held since November 2016. Previously, Clay was vice president, CIO and Acquisition Integration, as well as director of financial analysis and strategic initiatives. He joined the company more than 15 years ago, in September 2002. Clay has a BS in computer science from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a Master's in managerial economics from the University of Oklahoma.