You’re running an efficient IT shop. Now what?

Even in the midst of a roundtable discussion with fellow IT executives, there are some calls you just have to take.

When we hosted the annual CIO Canada roundtable earlier this month in Toronto things were just getting underway when George Semeczko, CIO of RSA Insurance of Canada, stepped out for a moment to deal with an urgent matter. Naturally we teased him about it a little bit, but he was worth the wait. We were going around the table and asking people to introduce themselves and identify their key priorities.

Although the in-depth highlights of the roundtable discussion will appear in the June issue of CIO Canada magazine, I thought I’d offer a sneak peek with his comments, because I think they’re a good example of the kind of journey many enterprise IT shops are on right now, and how priorities are being determined.

We are a Canadian subsidiary of RSA Group based out of the U.K. and it’s interesting you mentioned the call.

Part of the call was about how well we align with our group internationally in things that we’re doing and what we’re doing locally. At a local level, we’re certainly going through a revamp of our alignment strategy for the next few years. We’ve spent a lot of years doing quite a large turnaround in our organization. Globally and locally within our IT organization, we’ve completely turned it from an environment where we used to get a “black hole” budget to complete transparency, utility-based costing and infrastructure perspective. We’ve fully empowered our end users to make decisions about where we spend money in IT, so going from a black hole to every month they can see an invoice to see exactly where the money goes for every single thing they do. From a costing perspective, they are able to make business decisions and see what the impact of that is from an IT perspective. 

We are now at that point where we’ve got that running well. The business is in command of prioritization of projects and things so now we’re doing a lot of work from an IT strategy to determine where we now start investing. Now at a group level globally, we’ve got companies spread across the world and obviously we’re trying to get alignment. Part of the issue here is how can you align globally? The challenge we have is, how do you leverage pieces of what we can leverage at a global level so that we’ve got global buying power and global influence without overly restricting how people execute their business at a local level?

That call I took actually was on one of those projects of just how we integrate something that’s been developed by the mother ship in London and put that into place. It certainly is not easy and it’s a challenge to get there but financially, we’re in a good position because RSA had to clean-up its shop quite a few years ago so with the market downturn. We’re in a really good position to move forward. From an IT perspective, we’re now looking at how do we best grow to cater to the business we have to grow for? 

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