“We are not without accomplishment. We have managed to distribute poverty equally.”
– Nguyen Co Thatch, Vietnamese Foreign Minister
Last month, I spent a morning at one of the workshops at the BAI Operations and Technology Conference. The topic was technology planning and management, and 60-70 people attended. Most of them were CIOs or heads of operations, with a smattering of CEOs, CFOs and vendors.
To begin, I asked them to list the single biggest frustration, problem, issue or challenge with technology they saw at their institutions. Here, in no particular order, was the list:
Now, I suspect that a group of CEOs and marketing directors would have added several other issues such as competing with technology, selling with technology, and making technology planning more strategic. Nonetheless, this group probably represents that part of the bank most responsible for getting things done, and in terms of getting results, their perspective is probably right on point.
Here’s what strikes me about this list. First, with the exception of the first item, it has very little to do with the programs or technology deployed — Microsoft, for example, or browser technology, or the core system.
Second, with the exception of two items, it really doesn’t have much to do with vendors. While vendors certainly play a part in many of these things, they don’t determine the ultimate success or failure of them.
My dad used to say, “Focus your worry on things you can control.” Maybe as we look at 2002, we should look at these issues and see opportunity. The point is that they are within the ability and reach of management teams to address and take advantage of. They are within your control.
My partner Steve Williams talked last week about strategic opportunities in tough times. Let’s apply this thinking to managing technology this year. Looking forward into 2002:
This doesn’t mean we’re slowing down or that we’re just going to manage cost for a year. It only means that we’re getting ready for the next wave of technology and projects we know is around the corner.
So how do we get ready? Here’s a “to do” list for 2002 that doesn’t translate to major new capital budgets:
Get ready for the next upturn. Get old initiatives off the table. Do a few new things well. Build skills. Refine project prioritization and management skills. Push training and require process improvement with it. Build (or improve) intranet skills.
Maybe then at the December 2002 BAI conference, we can all list “using the Internet to book a vacation with the big bonus” as our important technology issue.
Hey, it could happen.