The Path to Innovation

Adriana Karaboutis, Dell's Global CIO, is aiming to create a highly mobile, efficient information environment for the company's 103,300 employees. A look at how she's accomplishing these goals offers a lesson for CIOs in a variety of industry sectors.

Innovation is easier said than done for many IT organizations. What were your first steps?

First, we took the pulse of the company. We asked: What are the things that we as the IT organization can do to drive efficiency, drive innovation, and drive value creation? We talked to our business partners, and said 'What is it that we can do to make people more efficient, more productive and have higher morale?'

The subject of tools kept coming up. Work is no longer nine-to-five. I call it '9 a.m. to 9 a.m.' because we're a global company. When we asked our users 'What alleviates the stress and challenge?' the answer was 'Give me the best tools I can get. When I'm in work environment I want to be able to get on YouTube, get my email, surf the Net for ideas.'

Those are all consumerization experiences. The challenge for us became: How do we satisfy the client, satisfy the organization and business, and keep our environment protected and our data secure?

Then what we did is we came in and said how do we do this and start with 'Yes.' Everybody is always very quick to tell you why you can't do something. We shifted the mindset. We said, let's start with 'yes.'

What was the effect of taking this approach? Did it succeed?

Among the successes we've seen so far is the fact that we have a BYOD policy for smartphones. To date, 10,000 employees have brought in their own devices. We support iOS, Android and Windows, We're now moving into BYOD on laptops and tablets. It all starts with asking 'what does the consumer want?' For example, inside sales people who are constantly on queues and calls have a much higher demand for network bandwidth and reliability versus the casual programmer who is working at home. We classified all our users to make sure we're satisfying mobility and bandwidth requirements based on their needs.

Once we identified the classes of users we put out policies and procedures appropriate to each group. The effort is very focused. That's all for very good reasons: The security of the company, and controls on what happens to our information. People want freedom of selection and the lines between business and IT are blurring, so how do we enable this and still protect data and security.

There was a cultural shift we had to take in IT. It wasn't hard. People in IT wanted consumerization and mobility. So we had to do the shift in how we were operating.

You have to be really savvy about tools available that enable you to provide consumerization and mobility while still providing security. Things such as mobile device management, the cloud for storing data, and integration tools like our Boomi [integration cloud solution], which allows us to protect SaaS in line with internal operations.

This article was originally published on 09-12-2012
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