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Beyond Bells & Whistles: Helping CEOs OutAn interview with Karen Saunders, Partner in the Assurance Practice at KPMGWhen CEOs were …

Beyond Bells & Whistles: Helping CEOs Out

An interview with Karen Saunders, Partner in the Assurance Practice at KPMG

When CEOs were asked, as part of a KPMG-Computerworld survey a little over a year ago, where they thought executive control over IT would ideally reside in the future, 60 percent said with senior business executives. A smaller 25 percent nominated the CIO/IT leader and 15 percent pointed to the CFO/COO.

Even more so today; far from the scenario of CEOs rushing to sign off on expensive IT projects, motivated primarily by the terror of being late the party, business chiefs are asking more questions than ever before about the relationship between potential IT projects and their value-add to the bottom line. So inquisitive are these CEOs that KPMG found a gap in the marketplace for a product they call Rapid Business Value Analysis, a tool (still in pilot phase) used to evaluate a proposed technology-inside of 30 days-within the larger context of the company’s business objectives, so that the company winds up with a business tool and not a bell or whistle.

How does this tool work? What’s a practical example?

Our tool focuses on those areas of a company that will most be impacted by a technology decision———-in terms of their processes, how those fit in with the company’s overall objective, how they impact the bottom line. By looking at it that way, and presenting an analysis as more of a business case scenario, companies can look at how it impacts the bottom line. For example, let’s take the sales process. We would look at what putting this IT application on a salespersons laptop does for them in terms of how they go out and sell, the timeliness of getting information back and forth. How does it make his or her role more efficient? Does that translate into saving dollars or increased revenue?

The cost-savings numbers are often harder to quantify, aren’t they?

True. And some of the benefits we may find may be non-quantifiable, but your common sense or your reasonable man or woman will be able to say, “by having this technology available this person’s going to be more efficient.”

Would you agree CEOs are becoming far more adept at seeing past technology for its own sake and more for its business benefit?

Yes, I think CEOs do see beyond the bells and whistles but I don’t know that they’re always able to quantify that or put that down in a business case analysis.

Why should the analysis happen within 30 days?

Time is money. The quicker you can make a decision, and move on, the quicker those benefits can translate to your bottom line. We know that things change rapidly out there. If you’re spending a significant amount of time evaluating an IT investment strategy, you might be missing other opportunities. In looking at the product, what it offers, what we envision what the deliverable will be, an appropriate time.


 

WEB WATCH

Keeping Your People It’s never been so hard to hang on to top talent. And as shared knowledge, innovation, and customer service become key competitive differentiators, your ability to attract, retain, and motivate employees is that much more critical. The Web offers a wealth of sites designed to help executives manage effectively, recognize the value of investing in human capital and realize optimal returns from this most important of assets.

www.peoplemanagement.co.uk Created by the Institute of Personnel and Development, People Management offers biweekly HR-oriented news and analysis from across Europe. Current items appear on the site’s home page. Feature articles explore subjects such as the use of outsourcing, dealing with cultural differences in a multinational workforce, and women in the workforce. Content is rounded out with World Service, offering global news; regular columns on organizational learning, employment legislation, and so on; book and video reviews; and a lively letters to the editor section.

 www.hrworld,com More of a directory than an e-zine, HRWORLD covers technologies and tools used in HR today. In Resources you’ll find information about various HR-related software and service offerings in categories such as compensation, benefits, insurance, and retirement. HR Talent lets you create a professional profile that’s made available to recruiters. You’ll also find a bookstore, a number of active forums on topics such as technology, training and HR management, and a “words of wisdom” collection with quotes from notables such as Horace and Theodore Roosevelt.

-Peter Haapaniemi


 FRONT LINES

As more people get used to high-speed Web access at work, they’re less willing to settle for a slow connection at home. Accordingly, the Yankee Group expects the number of U.S. residential subscribers to high-speed Net access services to grow to 3.3 million by the end of 2000 and 16.6 million by 2004, up from 1.4 million at the end of ’99. Credit consolidation in the cable industry and in-creased competition from telephone companies for the speedy transition to speedier hookups.

Details from Davos: At the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum, Nobel Networks and International Data Corp. released a study projecting that the Internet infrastructure segment of the Internet economy will more than quadruple to reach $1.5 trillion by 2003. That massive investment toward creating a high-performance Internet will exceed the investment in e-business, projected at $1.3 trillion.

We’ve seen the hype about online investing in the U.S., but a recent Forrester Research report sheds some light on its impact overseas: Europe’s on-line brokerage accounts are expected to reach 14 million by 2004, up from 1.3 million today. The reasons for Europe’s surge: its governments are encouraging constituents to invest; the privatization of national firms puts more stocks in consumers’ hands; and the recent IPO excitement has encouraged Europeans to actively participate in the growth of Net stocks.

-Seth Oltman

About C.J. Prince