Having been a CTO and/or SVP of technology at several companies in my career, I am sometimes asked what observations I have that are common across IT companies as a whole. I think the key ones are:
- The responsibility of IT leaders is not simply to build high-quality solutions — but to build the differentiating aspects of those solutions. Unfortunately, as an IT industry, we spend way too much time on the former and not enough on the latter.
- Vendor competition is not fostered by using multiple vendors — it is fostered by showing you have an efficient exit strategy that you are willing to execute.
- Good IT strategies should really be finance strategies that are supported by IT solutions.
- The biggest weakness of IT people is that they are generally lacking in their ability to sell either their ideas or themselves. As a result the business can suffer because it may buy things it doesn’t always need or miss out on the things it does need.
- You should always know — and be able to quantify — your value to the organisation at any given time, i.e. what have you done lately that’s important and can you clearly describe it (e.g. Last month, I saved the company US$100,000 by stopping a job that no one was using). The process of knowing that answer, and understanding the importance of always being prepared to give it, may change what you focus on.
- Wherever possible, try to express your justification in the international language: $s
- Yes, a particular piece of technology may be faster than something we have today but why do we care? Does it improve our customer’s experience? Does it reduce our costs?
- Remember: You can’t prove (or Im-prove) what you can’t — or haven’t already — measured. Pick something you think you can improve — number of errors, test duration, cost of hardware, performance … whatever. Measure it now – or find an accurate, prior measurement. Try to improve it and then re-measure it at some point in the future.
At Sabre, we are a technology company, first and foremost. Getting this stuff right is really important to us — whether we’re building massively high volume, always-operational systems, mobile solutions, complex OR algorithms, mobile technologies, big data and relational database (all enabled for cloud deployment).
Clearly understanding and being able to articulate our objectives makes sure that we not only invest our dollars in the areas that provide the greatest value to our customers but that we are also hiring and attracting the best people to deliver those objectives.