IT-business alignment at Credit Suisse

McKinsey has a very interesting interview (free subscription required) with Tom Sanzone, the CIO at Credit Suisse where he describes his approach to IT-business alignment. There are a number of points he raises which resonate well with the principles we outline in the book.

He makes it very clear that a IT and business need to collaborate as peers, rather than as supplier and customer:

Many CEOs talk about how crucial technology is to the future of the company, but then they place IT two or three layers below them in the organization. I think if something’s that important, you want to keep it close. I’ve always felt that if companies are truly technology-centric, IT needs to have a seat at the table …If we can create a competitive advantage in delivering our IT products to our internal customers, we’ve done our job. It’s then up to them to go out and sell and trade and do business. That’s the partnership.

Credit Suisse has an ambitious strategy to integrate its three core businesses – private banking, investment banking and asset management. The IT organisation has a key role to play in enabling that integration, whilst allowing each business to become a leader in its own right. Sanzone explains how this requires coordination of goals and objectives and a portfolio-based approach:

So there’s a whole portfolio of initiatives within technology to improve profitability, grow revenues, and improve processes.

He also highlights the importance of running IT within the business and establishing the right organisational structure and roles to facilitate engagement:

One of the things I did early on was to ensure that IT was closely linked to the business. Just as I sit on the executive board and work for the CEO, I made sure each business’s CIO also sits on the management team of the relevant business.

These are just a few snippets of particular relevance to The Technolgy Garden but the whole interview is worth reading, not least for Sanzone’s insights on the management of innovation.


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