by Michael Friedenberg

The CIO As a Competitive Advantage

Apr 15, 20062 mins
IT Leadership

On July 11, 2005, Hewlett-Packard announced with great fanfare that former Dell CIO Randy Mott would be joining the company. This was one of HP CEO Mark Hurd’s first significant hires, and it deserved the applause it received. However, what went conspicuously underreported was the identity of Mott’s successor, Susan Sheskey.

Dell does more than $54 billion in sales but this past year saw its stock price fall from $42 a share to $29. In today’s times, change is a fact of business life. Yet what has not changed is that Dell’s competitive advantage is closely tied to its ability to execute on technology. And with Sheskey in the CIO post, Dell is still executing.

As we’ve frequently noted in CIO, succession planning is critical to business success, and never more so than when markets are volatile. At this point, it seems that Mott lived up to his succession-planning responsibilities. (For tips on succession planning, see “Nothing Succeeds Like Succession,” Having had the opportunity to meet with Sheskey recently, it’s clear to me that her business technology floor plan for Dell is to push the boundaries of innovation.

Sheskey discussed her goals for Dell, and I think they’re relevant for every CIO who is leading the charge for innovation:

Create an IT environment that can differentiate your specific customer interactions;

Make your IT architecture a model of excellence that your customers can learn from;

Have your IT organization become a destination of choice for IT professionals.

Spend enough time inside Dell and you’ll hear the mantra “Discipline to Delivery,” which describes the company’s desire to move from strategy to process to execution at the speed of light. Creating an environment where one can achieve business leadership, technology leadership and career development enables one not only to chant this mantra but to live it.

Sheskey and her team are on their way to generating their own press clippings.

I would enjoy hearing from you as to what your goals and aspirations are for your IT team. Please send them to me.

P.S. In last month’s column I asked for best practices for people and organizations currently paralyzed by change. A lot of you sent me General Patton’s famous quote, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Sound advice and please keep the feedback coming.