Misalignment between IT and business units has led to many failed technologies and ruined careers. So creating an open information exchange between these two groups is a top priority at Abacus Group. In this interview, chief information officer, Brian Lozada explains how his team makes this happen.
The Enterprisers Project (TEP): What are some of your strategies for creating working partnerships and open communications between IT and business?
Lozada: Abacus has established a committee with an open communication platform to discuss what the priorities of the management team are. This has been crucial to creating an information sharing culture within the organization. In order to be successful with collaborative leadership efforts, it is imperative that information related to the strategic vision of an organization be accessible and available to all stakeholders at all levels and expressed within this committee's communication forum.
TEP: Business and IT haven't always been great at sharing needed information. What are some ways you make this happen?
Lozada: The first step is establishing an awareness and education program that promotes the benefits and goals of information sharing. Once employees begin to see that executive management is supporting this approach the political barriers begin to fall. An information sharing approach encouraged by executive leadership helps support and influence all parties involved for inter-organizational collaboration. Also, a common communication system needs to be established that is integrated with all the stakeholders to allow for increased collaboration. It could be as simple as setting up an email address used to send information to the committee. The committee could then review those emails to build an agenda for the next committee meeting.
TEP: What are the biggest obstacles you've found to trust and open communication between business and IT in organizations?
Lozada: One of the biggest hurdles is letting go of the past ways of doing things in the silo fashion. Opening up and listening to ideas from others and contributing to others' initiatives is a key component to the information sharing approach success. Executive management needs to consistently drive the message that the organization collectively works to meet the organization's objective. The company cannot be a success with only one or two groups within the organization, it is a collaborative effort to achieve success and this message needs to be delivered from the top down.
TEP: What advice would you pass along to other CIOs about how to create partnerships between business and IT?
Lozada: CIOs should be humble and ask for help! Speaking to the entire organization and asking for their input on how to better run the digital workflow — without dictating that workflow — will resonate significantly with the employees. Understanding their digital needs will help develop and maintain a collaborative approach to managing the IT requirements of the organization.
Brian Lozada is the Director of Information Security for Abacus Group and is based in New York. He is responsible for the development and maintenance of Abacus's information security program. Prior to joining Abacus, Brian was the Director of Information Security at Condé Nast, where he was responsible for overseeing the security and risk management for all digital and technology operations.