IBM CIO's Top 5 Priorities

IBM CIO Mark Hennessy lists his top 5 current priorities as an IT decision maker, including aligning business and IT, integrating the enterprise, and driving long-term revenue growth.


IBM CIO Mark Hennessy is an IBM lifer who has been in his current position since August 2007. His resume includes executive positions in marketing, corporate strategy, sales, global channel distribution, quality process and customer satisfaction. Below are the issues topping Hennessy's priority list.

1. Align Business and IT

This is foundational and critically important. I, like many CIOs, am balancing the need for efficiency with the need to invest in business transformation and IT initiatives that enable IBM to meet its strategic objectives. While our revenue, employee base and acquisitions have increased over the past five years, we've significantly driven down our actual IT expenses through a thoughtful, data-driven approach to consolidation and integration.

We're consolidating hardware-including our ECM project to consolidate and virtualize onto mainframes as part of IBM's Project Big Green-and software-where we are implementing an enterprisewide SOA [service-oriented architecture] project in addition to sunsetting an average of 30 applications every month. At the same time, we've taken an aggressive look at integrating across the enterprise and driving revenue growth.

2. Integrate the Enterprise

CIOs are in a unique position to look horizontally across their company, and I'm focused on identifying opportunities to simplify and transform the way we operate. Over the years, each of IBM's primary businesses-hardware, software and services-defined their own operations, supported by legacy IT systems. As IBM transforms from a multinational corporation into a globally integrated enterprise, we recognize that business process is a unifying dimension.

We've had great success in driving a common approach and consistent set of processes, controls and systems across our shared organizations, like finance and HR. We're taking those lessons learned from integrating the functions and are aggressively driving the integration of business processes across business units and geographies to create a truly flexible, truly globally integrated enterprise. It's hard work, but it will be a huge payoff for our clients and for IBM when we're done.

3. Drive Long-Term Revenue Growth

This integration has helped us drive growth, and has given us the flexibility that we need to continue to expand into new and emerging markets, quickly integrate our acquisitions, and have better control of our resources to best utilize our skills to meet our clients' needs. We've shifted our spending from running the infrastructure to investing in new technologies and approaches that are helping us transform and grow our business.

4. Fuel Innovation

IBM has nearly 400,000 employees worldwide, and I want to make sure our people can easily find and connect with each other based on common interests or any other traits because I truly believe that collaboration sparks innovation. Tools like Lotus Sametime Connect, our 3-D environment called the Metaverse and even social networking sites all allow for new levels of collaborative innovation. Employees are also using our Technology Adoption Program to become contributors and adopters of new technologies, many of which are Web 2.0-based.

All these tools foster an atmosphere in which our employees can develop and incubate new ideas quickly, and easily move their ideas and technologies out into the business to benefit our clients and IBM. I'm a big believer in the power of Web 2.0 and social networking.

5. Develop Employee Skills

It's a necessity to provide top-notch training and career development opportunities for our worldwide IT organization, and to ensure they understand what's available and can take advantage of it. While IBM is consistently rated on various lists as a top place to work, to be competitive in this environment, our employees need to nurture and develop further skills-not just in technical disciplines, but also in communication and general business.