IT Transformation Benefits for American Cancer Society Can’t Be Understated

For Jay Ferro, CIO of the American Cancer Society, his employer’s mission hits far closer to home than those of most others in his position. The father of three boys, Ferro lost his 36-year-old wife, Priscilla, to cervical cancer in January 2007. In her memory, he founded Priscilla’s Promise, a non-profit organization that brings greater awareness to cervical cancer.
Inspired by his personal experience with the disease, Ferro joined ACS as CIO in 2012 with the mission of applying his abilities as a savvy technology leader who understands how to apply IT solutions to achieve business goals. He was driven to ensure that in addition to supporting the organization’s infrastructure, IT also furthered its causes.
Like so many businesses today, ACS runs on a foundation of IT systems; these systems assist in strategic decision-making, support back-office operations, and help manage event planning and fundraising. This is why Ferro last year led an IT Transformation at ACS that consolidated 13 different IT groups as part of a significant application portfolio management project.
Ferro recently described ACS’s IT Transformation to CIO Insight’s Peter High:
We began the journey of IT transformation by conducting a professional assessment of how assets and processes were distributed to get a better understanding of what we had, and where, and how we were using them. We needed to know where all our moving pieces were nationwide before we could begin to assemble them into a more cohesive unit. From the beginning, our markers for success relied on feedback and interaction. We broke down any walls between IT and the rest of the enterprise, and this new open dialogue helped us gain a greater perspective on how our work was perceived. Using external benchmarking, focus groups, surveys, enterprise social media and customer satisfaction through our Service Desk, we measured ourselves against our goals each step of the way.
Today, Ferro states that ACS operates one unified IT Department. However, much like Forrester’s Marc Cecere explained in a recent IT Transformation webinar, there is still a cultural change that needs to take place within the organization. Each of the 13 merged divisions now needs to adapt its business processes so they are easily understood across the new group. Although the cultural change will take some time and continue to evolve, Ferro explains that the success of the IT merger has “set a positive tone and stable platform – literally and figuratively – for the rest of the organization.”
In the CIO Insight article, Ferro goes on to identify those benefits that “cannot be understated”:
Through consolidation, we were able to simplify a highly decentralized architecture, standardize our computers and systems, better protect our data and information, and offer industry-standard tools to the enterprise. Managing and supporting all technology efforts has greatly improved by transforming and centralizing our IT team. We exist to serve the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society, and our supporters expect–and I fully agree–us to be the most efficient and effective group we can be. This transformation effort has enabled an evolutionary leap toward that goal.
Reducing the complexity of IT systems is the main goal of IT transformations, much like the one conducted at ACS. As highlighted in the annual CRASH report, these complexities – Changeability, Transferability, Security, Performance and Robustness – can adversely affect the Total Quality Index of an organization’s IT system and interfere with its mission, which could have disastrous implications to any organization.
Meanwhile at ACS, thanks in part to the IT Transformation undertaken by Ferro, that organization’s benevolent mission will surely thrive.

IT Transformation Webinar Questions Answered

During last week’s webinar on IT Transformation featuring Marc Cecere, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research, many questions presented by participants went unanswered due to time constraints. Because these questions are likely being asked by many in the IT arena, we asked Marc’s webinar co-host, Pete Pizzutillo of CAST to provide answers to the three most frequently asked questions.
Here’s what Pete had to say:
Should it be surprising that IT processes are enablers of Business transformation and an integral part of Business Processes?
Forrester’s statistics on slide 7 show that IT processes are top transformation concerns and this really isn’t a surprise.  It is obvious that almost all businesses are now software companies.  As such, all aspects of business process redesign or optimization impact the technologies that support them.  So getting better at developing and supporting applications is a global concern.
Why does the CIO feel on the hook for a business transformation failure? I don’t think the business believes he or she owns their business change in most instances and may rally against that change. Conversely does the business genuinely own their part of the puzzle?
While it is unfortunate the CIO’s are predominately on the hook as suggested in the previous question, almost all processes – internal and external – rely on software. So CIO’s are tightly coupled to an organization’s functions whether or not a transformation initiative is planned. However, I think you’ll find that the business owners are heavily invested in transformations, but ultimately since they rely on their technical counterparts to execute these transformations the CIO and IT leadership are at the forefront of the effort and scrutiny. On slide 17 of the presentation, you will see that not all CIO roles are equal and that there are varying levels of investment depending upon the type of CIO and the conditions of the transformation.
What is the typical time required for business transformation?
The length of the transformation process obviously varies by industry as well as the scope of the transformation; not all transformations are enterprise wide as discussed in the presentation. A time scale is difficult to suggest as these projects can range from SAP consolidation to wholesale business process re-engineering.
The full webinar presentation on Business Transformation is available on the CAST web site at .

IT Transformation Major Component of Biz Transformation

In today’s software-driven business world, IT transformation has become an enormous component of business transformation and software risk management. This is one of the key messages delivered by Marc Cecere, Vice President and Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, during a webinar held recently on Business Transformation, which was sponsored by CAST, Inc.
Cecere explained that business transformation involves fundamental changes to major business processes, structure, models and culture, noting that most transformations require changes to structure and the roles of personnel, as well as collaboration between divisions or departments in the business. However, the biggest changes in these transformations come in the form of major system integration and technology changes.

Executive Dinner Series: Managing Software Risk within the Insurance Industry

It is becoming more and more obvious that the software risks and complexity that face today’s legacy systems is a growing problem for many IT organizations. Are these legacy applications “Ever going to be replaced or retired?  Are they “Too Big to Fail”? Added concern around many of these applications involves their size and architectural interconnectivity whereby their failure would prove disastrous to the entire business. There are few industries where this is more evident than the insurance industry.  At our recent  IT Executive Dinner with stakeholders from the Insurance industry, conversations were centered around application modernization, legacy application rationalization, and the funding mechanisms Insurance IT organizations use to improve their application assets.

Lessons on software development from Henry Ford!

Two of my great fascinations since moving to Detroit 17 years ago are the Henry Ford Museum and the Greenfield Village in Dearborn. These two places truly capture America’s legacy of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation. The exhibits range from Presidential limousines to heroes of the sky and evolution of manufacturing as a science. However, in one obscure corner there’s the story of Gauge Blocks.
Invented by a Swedish scientist, Gauge blocks are a metal or ceramic blocks that have been carefully ground to produce precision lengths and are used for calibrating measuring equipment in machine shops (micrometers, sine bars, calipers, and dial indicators). They are the main means of length standardization used by industry.

Predicting the Future of IT Risk Management with Melinda Ballou

We currently live in a futuristic world that past generations could only dream of. News, weather, updates from friends all over the world come pouring into our computers and smart devices and we don’t even think twice about the IT risk. Whether we’re at home with family, socializing with friends, or even working, technology is constantly surrounding us in one way or another.
Our reliance on technology is so heavy in fact, we often forget about the science behind it and how much goes into the IT risk management to support it. Beneath the surface of our most frequently used apps, social media accounts, games, and programs, highly complex software and code is constantly operating to maintain a satisfied user experience. Even non-tech businesses now realize they would not be able to function in today’s world without effective technological resources.

Code Quality: CISQ Standards Create Roadmap for Better Software

Software glitches aren’t really news but now we’re seeing software flaws that can cost an organization over $100 million due to poor code quality. This past year we’ve seen major technical and retail brands suffer extensive financial and reputational damage from software disasters – driving software issues out of the back office and into the boardroom.
Dr. Bill Curtis, senior vice president and chief scientist at CAST, and Executive Director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality (CISQ) recently spoke to SD Times about the current state of software quality, and the internationally accepted standards that are revolutionizing how the world builds quality software.