Tough Times Put IT in the Driver's Seat
"No offense, but that's an irritating question," says Mike Gabbei, CIO at Celadon Group, a $580 million trucking company based in Indianapolis.
The question I had just asked him: what's he doing differently to cope with tough times in the economy?
Gabbei is a no-nonsense guy in a no-nonsense business, and as such one of the better interviews out there. No offense taken -- what he meant, he explained, is that "CIOs are supposed to be doing their jobs day in and day out. I'm not doing anything differently today, because I'm constantly, every single week of the year, trying to find ways to take out cost and find efficiencies. Some people say IT is nothing more than a cost center, if we want to get away from that, we need to be finding value-added services all the time."
That's not to say the bum economy isn't having an impact on his job. "In some ways, tough times are better for IT," he says. "Executive management is asking other departments if they are effectively using systems that are supposed to bring more efficiency, so it's kind of a benefit to us." And his shop is looking at expenditures to see what it can live without. "We haven't lowered our guard on the capital side."
One change at Celadon in last 60 days, he says, is that more cross-functional teams are being put together. "We're white-boarding ways of finding efficiencies within the organization." Maybe 70% of those ideas, he says, involve IT. "The organization is 100% behind IT. If it truly is a value-added service, we'll drive inefficiencies out of the organization. We're looking long term."