How a CIO changed ING Japan

The morale of the information technology (IT) organization at ING Japan was at an “all-time low,” according to Houston Ross, when he joined the organization.

Ross was recruited as a “turnaround agent” largely because of his track record in technology transformations and his first order of the day as the firm’s VP and CIO was to kick off an IT department meeting to get a sense of where the organization was and how prepared it was for a transformation.

In a recent article he wrote for, Ross outlines some of the things he learned in the process and how his team was able to turn around the situation that the IT department was in.

Ross said it is typical of Japan’s siloed business culture to have technology scattered throughout the organization and have application delivery and infrastructure operating almost as two separate departments. He found some of these characteristics at ING Japan’s IT department where there would be some governance at the higher level but would not be consistently applied.


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He began his tasks by clarifying the key roles and responsibilities within IT. He got his team to identify its core and non-core capabilities and develop a new vendor management strategy.

Ross said, previously ING carried out much of its infrastructure work in-house and outsourced the requirements management and business analyst functions. He took steps to reverse that,

A new operating model went in effect last June with the company’s new application development request and projects.

The result was a vastly improved operation. He said key division managers, the head of sales and employees were surprised because with the old IT organization they frequently got the answer: “No, we can’t do it.”

After the change, the answer they got was “No problem.”

Another issue Ross tackled was the organization’s emphasis on in-house developed, customized software. He said shrinking profits and high cost made it imperative for the organization to look towards packaged solutions.

Now the company applies an 80-20 rule. ING Japan assumes that 80 per cent of what they do is standard and identify the 20 per cent that requires customization.

One example of this is the company’s implementation. It proved that the IT department can effectively use a solution that was already in place and create opportunities for future benefits such as mobile apps that can run on multiple devices.

Read the whole story here

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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