IT executives manage data and transform it into value-added, timely and accurate information that uses technology to deliver on the goals of the business. To be great business partners, we need to do more than manage data. We need to help our partners transform the business, help them stay competitive and lead innovation. This can be accomplished using innovative thinking that holds, at its core, three major business drivers. The first driver involves creating an environment that will facilitate change. As with all innovation, the first step is the hardest. We need to listen to our business partners, understand their viewpoint, as well as those of our customers and suppliers, and communicate in plain business terms. This is accomplished by developing the trust of partners, initially through quick wins. Fix the obvious. Listen first; then act. Understand the business perspective. We are business people first; technologists second. Once quick wins are achieved, build on these successes with pilot projects or a new idea or service. Finally, deliver timely and high-quality results that may exceed requirements. It's also important to develop a creative and analytical mindset. Turn complaints into ideas by asking for input - how would they fix the problem? This results in obtaining new ideas and insight into the way others think. We gain their perspective. Successful ideas, which can come from any part of the organization, turn into revenue generators when they are spread across the division and, ultimately, the enterprise. Empower others by building relationships, their confidence and their skills. Reward them. Empower yourself by having a passion for your work and showing it. Be positive but truthful, and make the tough choices to create change.

Within this newly created environment, identify legacy applications to retire. It is always easy to "pick the low-hanging fruit" - legacy applications that are old or in constant need of repair, need to be redesigned. It is harder to determine the legacy applications' interdependencies, and those applications they affect. It's key to recognize redundancies and integrate. One company I worked with found it had more than 30 check-writing routines. Combine and integrate. Organize and synergize. There should be a smooth process flow among all business processes. Develop standardized mechanisms for front office, back office, trading, order management, post trade processing, claims, clearance, settlement, procurement, regulatory compliance, sales, marketing, hiring, payroll, etc. Choose one methodology - CMMI, Six Sigma, balanced scorecard, etc. in the organization. The chosen methodology is not as important as the concept that all projects will be standardized and run the same way across the whole enterprise. The methodology you choose should be the most reflective of the enterprise's culture. We can't enable without knowing where we have been. We can't know where we are or where we have been without measuring. Few organizations gather metrics and even fewer make those metrics useful. They may report the metric, but then they do not connect them to where they are, and where they are going. Producing a monthly report that is several hundred pages long will result in no one reading it. Actions such as these take place at organizations that do not want to innovate or change. They just want the appearance of change.

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