Michael Gabbei, CIO, Celedon Group
I have been in the field of Information Technology for 30+ years starting my career in the development field. From day one I never classified myself as a “techy” or “gadget person.” My livelihood was and still is in gaining business insight into how technology, whether software or hardware, can enable the business.
Most business leaders do not care about the infrastructure of “keeping the lights on,” but rather want IT to help illuminate their ideas and shine a light on opportunities to run their business better. To understand the business, engage with the leaders and floor generals of the operation, and have an open dialogue of what the pain points are and jointly work toward a solution. I never like to use the term problems–problems in my vocabulary are opportunities, and with opportunities come solutions. I have always had the mantra that “anything can be accomplished with time and money.” Using this mantra, engaging in the organization, and delivering timely solutions has afforded me and my team the opportunity to align with the business and help drive progress. This alignment and resulting launch of new technology platforms garnered us the prestigious honor of “2015 Innovator of the Year” named by the Commercial Carrier Journal.
Current and future CIOs need to be engaged and understand the business. They need to regularly collaborate with all the business leaders of the organization, as well as not hesitate to get in the trenches with the floor generals, to understand the business. This exercise allows you to see where IT can provide the greatest benefits. It is this business acumen that lands you in the front of the Board of Directors and helps the company strategically progress and improve.
I always say that IT is a support function of the business. What I’ve learned is that by aligning the IT department with the various business units, allowing them to think creatively, and translating those ideas technologically, anything is possible. This creates a culture, in which IT is not only embedded in the daily lives of the staff, but in the way they think, and the vision they have for the business.