Collaborative Approach to Drive Business Value

Mike Rosello, SVP and CIO, Alliance Data Card Services

Current Technological Challenges:

 1) Information Security

 - 3rd party software, consulting engagements, and thick decks around deliverables that range from 1-3 years of work is the norm today in this space. Little is being done internally, organically. That leverage needs to shift.

“The most effective protocol for year 1 or a long term data strategy is to try and establish an integrated METADATA Program”

2) Meaningful Data Analytics

 -Data is decentralized, redundant, and many times not deep enough to be marketplace differentiating

3) Tools / Dashboards that represent real-time operational objectives. Information that has a 360 view of the organizations strategic plan (operationally and financially)

-Individual towers or business units, have tools, dashboards, etc…but more often than not the lack of centralized view is increasing costs and operationally ineffective

Integrating Data across Enterprises

First, establish a data strategy that is not focused only on the back-end technology associated with housing or manipulating data, but has equal focus on the front end of what kind of data are you seeking, and why? Then how are you incorporating your data strategy into your business strategy first, before incorporating it into your IT Strategy. The most effective protocol for year 1 or a long term data strategy is to try and establish an integrated METADATA Program.

Creating Competitive Edge

 An effective “Digital Strategy”. Digital has been synonymous with a particular platform (Web, Devices, etc..) an all-encompassing digital platform that accommodated all channel of digital communication is most effective, farthest reaching of all demographics, and industry verticals.

Anticipated Solutions

 Many Cloud-based technologies and providers still have a way to go in regards to supporting core, back-end, high volume processing and R&D work for many industries, and then securing their offerings as well. Latency/ Bandwidth issues still exist, more an more network hops between the client, 3rd parties and then the hosted solution create more single points of failure to address in an expedited manner. Incident management and change management also are downstream casualties to cloud providers as communication is lacking among all the parties involved in the solution (multiple touchpoints) hours and hours go by showing you are not part of the problem vs addressing the situation. Communication and ownership are a challenge.

Evolving Trends in the Industry

 We are in the business of knowing what our customers want before they do. We mine data in a manner that allows us to put together targets of opportunity down to the individual not just the brand, then the critical part is providing them the capability(s) to act on that information easily, and quickly. It the credit business, demographics are shifting, millennials are increasing spend, and are not transacting in the same channels as previous generations. Consolidations among the industry are occurring a lot more to fill these gaps, but seamless integration and confusing, redundant messages and targets are the outcome of that model.

Technology Revolutionizing the Landscape

In the Loyalty rewards space there is a greater integration to credit now vs years part. The rewards program(s) for brands are much more creative, deeper, and enticing. Many of these programs are now shared across multiple brands in coalition programs. There is little isolation….if you buy groceries, get gas for your car, buy clothes, airline ticket, hotel, etc…the least amount of cards used to do so, and the greater accumulation of points across all those transactions is where you want to be positioned.

Changing Role of IT

With the absence of a dedicated COO at our company, the CIO takes on a much larger role of sudo-COO as we all core day-to-day IT responsibilities. We are no longer “supply-side” oriented, instead we are leading through initiation, prioritization, business case development, through execution.

Elevating IT’s Relationship with Business

We establish a body of work we call Enterprise Demand & Delivery (ED&D) about 18 months ago. This process oriented, governing body encompasses individuals that focus on capability delivery, consolidated PMO, tools & process experts as well as some other one-off skill sets that couldn’t seem to find a home within the business units. They reshaped our whole budgetary planning process, project initiation, prioritization, and delivery process, toll gates for business cases, look back models, and sites for transparency. They are in place to support the whole enterprise in a consolidated manner not just one business unit. They are essentially the overall governors of our annual efforts.

Ombudsman between IT and Business

 I believe, and practice, with the CISO reporting to the CIO. Hesitation in many industries of this organization model is because of concern of the fox watching the hen house. I believe that makes little operational sense if the leader of the IT department is truly a business leader and not only concerned about his/her own area. Someone who is truly looking out for the security of the Enterprise. Our Info Sec Department is just that a department now, when just a few years ago it was barely a team. They have an increasing significant dedicated budget, are much more present upstream in the business’ objectives and are held as a high priority around the business. We do practice here where as this function is completely owned by my CISO. I am simply a vehicle to knock down any barriers that may arise that would get in his way, also used as a communication asset to him to make sure he is aware of any changing demands of the business as soon as possible. Making sure his group is well represented to the Executive Team of their needs, and impact.

Advice to CIOs

 As much as you will need to show delivery capability, there should be enough low hanging fruit to establish your worth you can gravitate to, but you need to equally, if not more be a horizontal leader vs vertical leader. Meaning, you have to spend more time aligning yourself to your business peers, establishing understanding of their constraints and gain credibility by showing an equal, unbiased amount of support for all of them. Stay very organized, and be completely transparent and overly communicative.