IBM Names New CIO
Big Blue has a new CIO.
Today IBM announced the appointment of Pat Toole, a 25-year company veteran, to lead a massive IT organization that until this year was highly decentralized.
"Over the past number of years, when they asked me what kind of role I'd want at IBM, I always said CIO," Toole told me Wednesday. "I look at the size and scope and complexity of IBM, and I wanted to have the opportunity to add the same kind of value to our company," he added, referring to his past experience of helping clients delivering IT-business value.
Toole started with IBM on the development and manufacturing side, moved to sales and ultimately ran a number of business units. Most recently he served as general manager of the tech giant's intellectual property division.
Toole is already hard at work. In recent weeks, he's helped spearhead IBM's newly-released Global CIO study, which the company says is the largest CIO study ever. (It polled more than 2,500 CIOs in 78 different countries.)
On the tech front, Toole is digging into business analytics (the top tech priority for CIOs in the study), as well as cloud computing, collaboration and risk management.
But he's also bringing a sharp view of what it takes for CIOs to rise up through the recession:
"When we look back at this period, the CEOs and CIOs that more or less weathered the storm and maybe even grew during the storm are the ones that understood where the real IT leverage comes from. It's not just about cutting costs--every company should know how to do that. If you really focus on the business processes and simplify them and generate real business value and create new business models in a changing world, that creates enormous benefit and leverage of what you get out of your CIO organization, as opposed to just living through the day, cutting costs, reducing expense, etc."
"At the end of the day, the CEO only wants outcome. They don't need or want to know, necessarily, how you get that from a detailed business process perspective, but that's where CIOs can really add the value and really help the CEOs achieve the outcomes they desire."
The move from a federated CIO model also presents challenges for Toole. The realignment is forcing him to go through a detailed skills assessment of his IT operation. That means evaluating whether or not his team has the goods to focus on his many priorities, both now and in the future. "A lot of the CIOs that took the study are going through the same thing in this current economic environment, and taking a deep look at, What skills do they need going forward now, and do they have the right skills as the market turns?" Toole said.
I'll have more from Toole in the near future. In the meantime, check out our report on the CIO study.