Top CIOs Become Business Process Czars

CIOs use their unique position--which allows them to see the broad array of interactions among employees, customers and business partners--
to streamline business processes and make their companies more competitive

CIOs who expand their role beyond the traditional purview of IT can significantly boost the bottom line by improving business processes. It requires CIOs to have business acumen and organizational skills, on top of technology prowess, but the result can be a more competitive and nimble business.

Business execs manage a complex set of processes within their departments and, as a result, don't have the bandwidth to comprehend the ever-changing process complexities in other departments.

CIOs, however, are in an ideal position to see the broad array of interactions among employees, customers and business partners--and identify opportunities for improvement across the entire enterprise. As Jim Stikeleather, chief innovation officer at Dell, puts it: "CIOs should know more about how the business runs than any other executive."

An enterprise process map is a basic tool used by CIOs to improve business performance. When Steve O'Connor was hired as CIO at AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah Insurance Exchange, he quickly discovered that an enterprise process map didn't exist.

With the approval of the CEO, O'Connor created a tiger team of IT and business personnel to map out the business processes so he could partner with his C-level peers to improve processes so they could achieve the company's aggressive growth plan.

Randy Spratt, CIO and CTO at McKesson, collaborates with C-level peers to focus on improving the processes that will have the most dramatic effect on business performance. For example, Spratt developed the Business Integration Office, which integrates acquired businesses into the McKesson business model.

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