The rebirth of re-engineering

Once again, it's all about business processes. But this time around, IT is leading the charge.

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The other key area Alexander is focused on involves consolidating the bank's 30-plus data production and operation sites into two data centers running a standard set of technologies.

"Before, we had custom handcrafted technology stacks for each application," Alexander says. Standard technologies will enable IT to quickly deliver new services to Capital One's all-important base of ever-demanding mobile and online customers.

"This is really a big deal for us," Alexander says. "It's changing how we do work and also our combination of resources and skills. It will put us in a much better competitive position in the market."

Changing Skills

Capital One isn't alone in its need for a new and different mix of skills in its re-engineered IT organization. Virtually all IT executives involved in re-engineering or transformation efforts list talent acquisition as a major challenge and priority.

"The most important thing that has changed is that we need a richer mix of associates," says Alexander. Specifically, Capital One is seeking out professionals with business and process knowledge and agile software development skills.

Kim Johnson, CIO at Graham Group, a midsize construction management company based in Calgary, Alberta, says the role of business analyst is taking on greater importance at his company and others. It's critical that business analysts have technical knowledge combined with "a very good understanding of the problem domain," Johnson says.

Traditionally, Graham Group, like many other companies, embedded business analysts in the IT organization. They would venture forth to the business, collect and interpret requirements and bring them back to IT.

Now, Johnson says, "when we talk about business analysts, we're talking about embedding a portion of the IT function into the business. As the problems have become more complicated and the company has grown and there is increased specialization, we're shifting the business analyst role into the business."

The upshot: "Today, I weigh business skills heavier than technology skills" in recruiting, Johnson says. High on his list of desired skills are the ability to drive collaboration, the ability to understand business requirements and translate them into a technical format and the ability to facilitate and integrate multiple perspectives.

Graham Group is also organizing most of its IT and business employees around various business processes. Additionally, there is a purely technical organization that is home to highly specialized technical workers.

"The days of the general software developer are long gone," Johnson says. Instead, Graham Group recruits candidates or hires service providers according to very specific platforms, the type of project and the type of software development.

The bottom line, according to Hicar, is that customers -- not technology -- determine how and where IT at the company will create business value in the future.

"Our vision is that business value will be determined by how people are using our imagery to create their own business value," he says. "We don't know yet what the most important value is going to be and which will emerge in the market, so we're building for flexibility.

"The reality now is that we know the world won't be what we thought it would be," Hicar adds. "We can't outguess technology evolutions."

In other words, we can expect the future will hold more re-engineering efforts implemented in a decidedly new manner.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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