Returning the cost savingsBy BTM Institute Staff Writer | Posted 2008-07-01 Print
An interview with Gary Masada, CIO of Chevron Corp.
Q. Can you describe what you did in the first two phases of the GIL project to return the cost savings to the company?
In GIL1, which was about five years ago, we standardized more than 50,000 desktops in about 1,800 company locations, as well as the enterprise software associated with them, which happened to be Microsoft. That was a big change initiative because everyone had his or her favorite desktop and laptop.
In GIL2, we standardized the network by ensuring connectivity, standardized the data centers, and moved to the next generation of desktops and laptops. This move gave people the ability to work anytime, anyplace and anywhere. That was the tagline for that project.
We gained tremendous productivity advantages, along with the savings associated by being able to leverage our size. That’s another benefit of centralization. We have a standard desktop and a standard laptop and are increasingly moving toward a standard configuration. We have a very well-managed infrastructure, which bit by bit has become global.
Q. What is the third phase of GIL about?
GIL3 is about refreshing the desktops and laptops to provide more power and greater mobility. We now have 90,000 desktops in even more locations.
Mobile devices have become an absolute necessity for many of our folks. We haven’t really figured out what the productivity gain is here. While I go on vacation, I might spend an hour or two each day going through e-mail on my Blackberry. I would not have been able to do that so easily five years ago. The company gains additional productivity from such an ability.
GIL3 is also about improving information management by using new technology to tag information so that it can be found, shared, retrieved and archived. We’re also carrying out policies for data retention.
Q. What type of metrics do you have for measuring technology projects?
We’re working on the metrics piece now. Each project has its own scorecard. We can decide what to pull up from the various projects to measure whether it was on time or on budget, and whether it delivered what it said it was going to in terms of cost reduction and synergies. But you have to pick the right metrics to make sure the right things get extended.
When you say you’ve generated, for example, $150 million in benefits, the business usually doesn’t understand how and when that happened. Technology doesn’t have a bottom-line figure that affects pieces of the business, such as sales, but technology affects many things. However, it’s counterproductive to wind up in a discussion such as: Technology was this part of the value of improving your sales processes.
I like to hear the business tell us why they liked what we did. Sometimes business leaders tell us that it’s a great project because it allowed them to do certain things. They might not be the things IT planned to deliver, but that’s what the business leaders value and that’s what gets them anxious to do the next project.
Q. How do you drive technology innovation to keep the company competitive?
We take a process approach to everything we do, which is the nature of the company. However, we have not taken a process approach to innovation. Many people say innovation is different and you don’t need a process approach for it.
If you think about the scientific method, you go by a process. You look at the opportunities, figure out what is the greatest value to the business and start to focus on those. Next, you say, ‘What ideas do we have and what ideas can we bring in from the outside that would improve these business processes?’
We’ve contacted other major companies, such as Intel, Procter & Gamble and IBM, to learn how they are managing innovation. We want to know how they organize it, what processes they have, how they make innovation more productive, how they eliminate roadblocks and how they foster an innovation culture.
We have created a small team called Innovation Services. We say services because we don’t want to give the impression that innovation happens here. It’s a group that supports and encourages innovation everywhere in the corporation.
We don’t like the idea of innovation being about just keeping our IT infrastructure running because that sounds so mundane. On the other hand, our business is very complex and technology-intensive, but we always have the challenge of keeping our infrastructure running efficiently. We look at innovation as a way to deliver a higher level of products and services, and greater reliability, but at a lower cost. We strive for small innovations and large gains.
We focus on operational excellence, constant improvement on all the services and products we deliver, every day, to the customers. At the same time, we manage a long-term, five-year outlook on the major things that are going to have the biggest impact for our businesses. Next, we look at innovation in terms of how we can bring the best and the brightest internal and external ideas to the company and create business advantage around those findings.
The BTM Institute (www.btminstitute.org) brings together the academic, corporate, government and thought-leadership communities as a multi-disciplinary research think tank to address the need to integrate business and technology.
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