Engagement and Communication: Keys to a Successful IT Organization

Date:   Tuesday , November 05, 2013

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.

As mobile devices of all types become more embedded in peoples\' work and personal lives, the security solutions for mobile devices need to be more robust in terms of providing flexibility and convenience for the user while protecting corporate data; especially in a bring-your-own-device scenario. Possible solutions to this may be containerization, mobile device virtualization or something else entirely, but affordable and effective solutions in this space would be welcomed.

Challenges in Cloud Adoption

We would also like to continue to leverage the benefits that cloud services offer such as variable costs, agility and evergreen solutions. However, we need cloud solutions that can meet the needs of large corporations in the areas of data integration, security and regulatory requirements such as data privacy and export control. We have found many cloud providers are weak in these areas. We look forward to more enterprise-ready cloud services that will deliver these and similar requirements beyond the basic functionality of the software.