Aligning Business Processes with IT

By Michael Saitow, CIO, M.S. Walker

Michael Saitow, CIO, M.S. Walker

The biggest technology trend facing MS Walker is the convergence of all of the other big technology trends. Users are no longer content with mobility or big data. They want big data that’s already been mobilized. They want it “app” lified creating business data that is just as easy as Open-Table, UBER or any other disruptive app. However, users rarely consider any of the business facets that complicate the consumerization of technology; and most importantly they don’t care.

"The challenge as an IT leader is to represent the needs of the organization"

Our job as IT leaders is to stop thinking like IT leaders and drop IT. Users will rarely take the time to learn what is possible and return to only focus on their needs–tunnel vision 101. The challenge as an IT leader is to represent the needs of the organization and not make anyone feel slighted (at times this results in making everyone feel slighted). By stepping back and taking a holistic view of the needs across the enterprise management can (IT along with other business units) use tools like education, communication, patience and support as keys to enable individual breakthroughs. These small successes result in helping to align the business units and bring IT in-line with support and away from “business-prevention”.

A common success strategy is to work to help users define what I to refer to it as a “mobility minute”–which is the moment when a previously “desk-locked” employee was able to be effective remotely. From the CFO getting an emergency acquisition while on vacation at the beach; working with him at being able to be effective from a mobile-device and a tethered laptop. Or working with our call center(s) in preparation for a blizzard to enable them to work remotely. Or enabling employees to have office portability and work in whatever facility they want to improve their quality of life. The IT Mantra here at MS Walker is to achieve the “Four-Anys”: access ANY data at ANY time from ANY where on ANY device. This is not without its challenges with legacy applications, security restrictions, user competence, training and device capabilities (don’t push gigs of data over a cell connection). But this mantra sets a tone and a direction for the folks in the IT group and empowers us to make decisions as long as we know we’re headed in the right direction. Additionally, it sets a tone for the rest of the enterprise so that they know how we’re working to satisfy their demands and while folks always think it “should take 5 minutes” at least they know that we all share a common goal of solving their remote-data problem(s).

These trends are not unique to the wine and spirits industry, but rather it’s quite the opposite. Our industry tends to be 5-10 years behind grocery which is yet another 3-5 years behind CPG. That means that our user group(s) of employees, customers, and suppliers has this bi-polar relationship with process. Some of them are wonderfully advanced in personal technology and don’t struggle at all when they encounter a manual paper-based antiquated process that connects all of the layers of the service and supply chain. Others are a little more set in their ways and haven’t yet adopted personal technology so they don’t know what they’re missing.