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Selling a New Way to Manage IT

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 11-02-2007 Print
As companies such as Best Buy have discovered old practices such as farming out projects to focus on core competencies take on new meaning.

The IT organization of the future will look drastically different than it does today.

Embodying that model of the future is the IT organization at big-box retailer Best Buy, the $12.9 billion big-box and online consumer electronics retailer. Led by CIO Bob Willett, Best Buy's IT team consists of a collection of business-minded strategists and managers, with specialized work sourced out to dedicated experts.

Willett oversees hundreds of staffers responsible for supply chain and demand planning and corporate development, but he has only 35 internal IT workers. Their task: Dive into the business (he calls his staffers "business information officers") and identify ways meet their needs.

When it comes to executing--building applications or planning systems, for instance--Willett turns to his 1,300 or so consultants at Accenture in the U.S. and India. (Before joining Best Buy, Willett headed Accenture's global retail consulting practice.) "We concentrate on steering the strategy," he says. "They row the boat."

So far, he says, it's paid off--Best Buy's IT spending has declined in the past three years as a percentage of sales. "You're becoming more efficient and more effective," says Willett, who declines to share specifics. "You're making sure your every penny counts."

Making the transition to this model is difficult for any IT executive. Willett offers these tips for CIOs aiming to streamline their organizations:


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