Joel D. Jacobs

A social networking prototype connects staff, partners and customers

Joel D. Jacobs says he needed to focus limited resources to deliver the best results when he took over as The Mitre Corp.'s CIO in 2009. To do that, he first created clearer definitions of his IT department's services, detailing what was included, what wasn't and what each one cost.

Jacobs, 51, says he also better delineated between back-office IT and the value-add technology projects that really drive the Bedford, Mass., company forward. He says Mitre's role is to deliver strong system engineering capabilities to government sponsors, and IT's priorities have to support that mission.

"That's where we wanted to focus, [not on] HR and financial infrastructure operations. Not that those aren't important, but they're in good shape," he says.

Mitre executives appreciate Jacobs' ability to set priorities for IT. Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Lehman praises Jacobs for his "thoughtful integration of many aspects of the job" and his understanding of enterprise needs and financial realities.

In addition to structuring IT to operate more efficiently, Jacobs' department sought to make it easier for Mitre employees to get the resources they need, providing them with a one-click, role-based access system that requires fewer passwords and log-ins and offers more self-service capabilities than previous systems.

Jacobs' IT staff also developed Handshake, a prototype social network that lets Mitre employees connect and collaborate with one another and with external partners and customers. Today it has more than 2,500 members, with more than 150 groups and communities.

Mary K. Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at

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