It’s hard to get any bigger than Procter & Gamble. And for ten years, Filippo Passerini was its Chief Information Officer and Group President of Global Business Services. He’s literally a Hall-of-Famer – inducted by CIO.com in 2010. With experience spanning 170 business services and 70 countries, we wanted to get his unique insights on Application Management as well the state (and future) of IT.
Here are a few our favourite excerpts, but you’ll have to read the entire in-depth conversation to get a feel for Passerini’s true ability to ‘put his arms around the elephant.’
On how IT can truly drive value for an organization:
“It’s critically important for any IT organization to avoid being regarded as a commodity supplier by the business, otherwise IT simply becomes all about cost and not about business contribution.”
On his powerful, yes counter-intuitive approach to IT strategy:
“How do I go about choosing the right technology? My answer has always been ‘technology comes last’… selecting the technologies that can best support and enable IT strategies.
Several years ago at P&G, we realized that it was becoming more important for us to accelerate our product development and go-to-market to ensure we continued to win. We analyzed all of our key business processes and found for example, that collecting consumer feedback on new packaging design usually took several weeks. As a result, P&G decided to introduce virtual reality models for much of its consumer research. The business nowadays is able to do in a matter of days what in the past would have taken many weeks.”
On the future of internal platforms:
“Looking at how most employees access and work with corporate intranet systems, I believe there’s an opportunity now to leapfrog running most application services directly to a mobile platform. This would possibly reduce the cost of maintaining legacy systems which need continuous modernization, while being more in sync with the way people use technology in their personal lives.”
On today’s culture of App Stores affecting stakeholder expectations:
“The world we live in nowadays has created in all of us, an expectation of being served very rapidly. Today, you can get an app launched in just a few weeks and as a consumer have continuous and free access to huge amounts of the latest information available. I believe the traditional business model where a new project in IT has to take dozens of millions of dollars and years to complete is going to be gone pretty soon. In future, I believe we will be seeing fewer large-scale systems deployments and instead multiple releases, each one taking just weeks or months, not years. It’s all about managing the project scope to execute fast and iteratively.”
Finally, on the role of the CIO within the business and the road ahead:
“In my opinion, IT is today at an inflection point. Now is the time for IT professionals to start playing a greater leadership role in the business. Indeed, there is no other function where three critical capabilities come together: information management, digital technology and project management. However, many IT professionals still need what I would describe as ‘self-empowerment’. IT people sometimes expect to be asked or told by business leaders what to do. This is a missed opportunity for all those involved. Overall, I believe that a CIO can generate the greatest value by being a trusted partner of the CEO, bringing him or her relevant capabilities, and suggesting new approaches that help transform the way business is done. More than ever before, the time for that is now.”
Read the full interview with Filippo Passerini here.