CEOs who get IT

Ask any CEO to name the very top items on their agenda and the conversation invariably turns to “innovation” and “transformation.”

Ask any CIO to name their very top things on their list and they will tell you its “information” and “technology.”

Some of us are beginning to realize that both groups may have different terms for it but we really are all starting to talk about the same thing, it’s all about “IT” however you want to describe it.

In this issue, we talk to CEOs who credit IT for helping them achieve business transformation. Typically, these CEOs begin with a very broad defintion of what innovation truly means. (Innovation is not just about new products, it is also about radical changes to your business processes.) Then they go about with a vision to change their business based on their assessment of the competitive landscape and what they intuitively think they should be offering to their customers. It really is quite simple, isn’t it?

Case in point is Glenn Gibson, the Kitchener, Ont.-based CEO of insurance firm Crawford & Co.’s Canadian, Carribean and Latin operations. When you are in an industry where the recent spate of storms in the Gulf of Mexico area caused a number of bankruptcies, you better make sure you have the very best in IT systems. Says Gibson: “In the middle of a disaster site, we’re probably better equipped and better able to communicate than the U.S. army.”

Closer to home, we have CEO Geoff Smith of high-profile commercial real estate developer Ellis-Don telling us he credits IT for helping him “double sales volumes while keeping overhead the same.” Technology, specifically, an internally developed system called EdgeBuilder, has helped him “transform” his business and set him apart from his more conservative competition.

We also hear from IBM Canada CEO Dan Fortin who realizes the company he runs had to first transform itself before it could help transform its customers. By the way, transformation services is becoming the biggest part of its business.

It’s amazing how the word transformation has entered the lexicon of the senior executives. And often times, it does sound like overstatement. At least though we can point to a few CEOs who get it.

Martin Slofstra
[email protected]

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