by CIO Staff

A CEO in Charge of Technology?

Oct 06, 20042 mins

The October issue of Chief Executive magazine features Home Depot’s CEO Bob Nardelli as the cover boy. And why? Because he is spending big on technology. In The Depot Goes Digital, the magazine says Nardelli has borrowed from the playbook of his former employer, GE, “to create a system of checks and balances on how technology is managed, and he has integrated technology decisions deeply into his business strategy.”

Nardelli brought some key players from GE to fill his high level ranks, and for CIO they picked Bob DeRodes, who had been technology whiz at AMR’s Sabre Group. While those quoted in the story say DeRodes is “operationally” equal at the table, and not just a backroom guy, Nardelli advises fellow CEOs to not place the entire decision-making process in the hands of a CIO. As Nardelli told Chief Executive, “You want a CIO at the table next to your chief merchandising officer, your chief operations officer, your financial officer, your human resources officer, because you want him to say, ’OK, what is the best prioritization for the business?’” The relationships Nardelli set up are explained in some detail.

Chief Executive thinks the Nardelli model may help establish a pattern for other CEOs who have been “deeply frustrated by their lack of success in harnessing technology.” In short, he is using technology to force sweeping changes in business processes, rather than just bolting new technologies onto existing ways of doing things. It’s a glowing tale of leadership prowess, set up as a shining example.

Of note, CIO covered Home Depot’s transformation—from the CIO’s perspective—last August in Home Improvement. We asked a few skeptical questions, like, can a strategy designed to improve efficiency in a mammoth corporation also increase customer satisfaction? Numerous readers responded (see Add a Comment at the end of the story).