November - 2013 - issue > CIO Insights

Engagement and Communication: Keys to a Successful IT Organization

Nancy S. Wolk
CIO-Alcoa - Global Business Services
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Nancy S. Wolk
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) is a producer of primary and fabricated aluminum and a miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. Founded in 1888, the company has a market cap of $9.23 billion.

Information technology drives the business. Essentially, a CIO is also a business strategist. Working more closely with our business leaders and having alignment on priorities is how IT brings value to the organization. IT should be there at the birth of an idea and bring technology-enabled business models and solutions to the table. For example, we closely collaborated with our business leaders and executive management during the development and deployment of our current five year IT strategy. This approach ensured support for broad deployment across the businesses, and established the strategy as fundamental to all decisions relating to IT investment.

As the CIO I have realized that engagement and communication are the keys to running a successful IT organization. I have focused on continual communication of the goals of our strategy to all stakeholders, and even more importantly the role of each person in the organization in achieving those goals. You "win with people," but only if they understand what it is they are working toward, and feel engaged and empowered enough to take the steps to get there.

Technology Trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment

Two trends of interest are the maturation of new mobile technologies; tablets in particular, and business intelligence tools to enable the timely and effective application of data to business processes and decisions. In a large company like Alcoa, with significant manufacturing operations, mobile devices enable many new opportunities for the direct use of information technology where it had previously been physically impossible or prohibitively expensive to reach with standard computing equipment. This coupled with advances in business intelligence and analytics help us to support our businesses in making more informed decisions directly at the site of the work.

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