Bank of New York Makes CIO Innovation Chief

In June, The Bank of New York tapped its CIO, Kurt Woetzel, to lead a new Office of Innovation. Woetzel says the investment bank’s executive team (of which he is a member) created the new organization to accelerate top-line revenue growth by creating a constant stream of new products and customer services.

“The Office of Innovation will bring together resources for generating new ideas, validating new business opportunities and bringing those opportunities to fruition very quickly,” says Woetzel.

A 21-year veteran of The Bank of New York, Woetzel already knows the business, the customers and the internal employees to make things happen. He once served as a division head of the $8.3 billion bank’s broker-dealer services business. His CIO experience, he says, provides an additional benefit. “I have a great perch that allows me to look across all of our business on an enterprise level and see opportunities at the seams of our businesses that others don’t,” says Woetzel.

Although The Bank of New York is not alone in establishing an internal group chartered with innovation (Computer Sciences Corp., AMD and Citigroup have also done so in the past 18 months), its appointment of the CIO to lead the effort is unusual, says James P. Andrew, a senior VP within The Boston Consulting Group. Because their peers still don’t see them as business strategists, CIOs aren’t typically put in charge of innovation, he says. Usually, companies appoint a chief innovation officer—“the other CIO,” according to Andrew—who is someone who has a head for ¿business, understands customers and can sell ideas with influence.

The attention to innovation is a reaction to companies exhausting disciplines such as Six Sigma for improving quality and productivity, says Andrew. “With the stock market increasingly rewarding growth, companies are realizing the importance of innovation and its ability to drive that growth,” he says.

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