CIOs to Leverage EA to Bolster their Presence in the C-Suite

by Naveed Rajput, Lead Enterprise Architect, Capco (Capital Markets)

Changing CIO landscape:    

The gulf between the Business and IT has been recognised in the enterprises for many years. However this chronic organisational impairment has started causing landslides in the CIO landscapes. There exists maturity mismatch between business and other central functions as well but IT capability has been brought under intense scrutiny due to increasingly frequent high profile failures.

Global macro forces such as economic fragility, financial crisis, heightened regulations, investment shortfall, fierce competition, globalisation, to name a few, are constantly transforming the business landscape.  Technology is one of the key considerations to untangle the complexity and volatility yielded by above mentioned macro commotion. The issue gets further flared up due to scarily high correlation between these factors which translates into a direct impact on the bottom line of firms.

Cost reduction has become a strategic driver for businesses and as a result, tech savvy finance chiefs are getting popular to lead Technology investment decisions. This paradigm shift in the CIO landscape is an important corporate event which presents an enterprise with burgeoning complexities and ultimately does more harm than good. Enterprise IT which is run as a cost centre struggles to provide sustainable competitiveness and In fact stifles innovation and future growth.

Investment Governance & CIO and CFO Alignment:              

The remedial actions mandate CIOs to assume ascendance to fill the void between IT and Business. The Enterprise Architecture function and governance can play a key strategic role for CIOs if structured and operated properly.

The biggest flashpoint to address includes capital planning and IT investment governance. CIOs can leverage and adapt the investment decision making framework and models used by their business counterparts. Using common factor models allow CIOs to analyse and calibrate the IT investment proposals similar to the way investment decisions are made by business lines – Think risk adjusted returns by deploying capital in a diversified portfolio.

Instead of using fairly lightweight valuation method, CIOs should strengthen their capabilities in deploying sophisticated valuation techniques to demonstrate understanding of the cost and benefits profile of the proposals. Apart from using the standard NPV, IRR, Profitability Index, and Payback Period, they should also consider quantifying embedded options and flexibility in project proposals.

Proposal Calibration and Comparative Investment Analysis:

IT can liaise with Finance to establish quantitative attributes to ensure alignment of parametric model. One of the key measures is the discount rate for which the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) could be a reasonable starting proxy to estimate the opportunity cost.

Once all the relevant input factors are established, the proposals with different time horizon and risk profile should be scaled and standardised for comparative analysis. Equivalent Annual Annuity (EAA) or Least Common Multiple of Lives (LCML) method is often used to bring the proposals to comparative scale. Subsequently, discount rates are adjusted to reflect the riskiness of the projects – think project specific beta.

Depending on the level of sophistication and maturity CIOs can use scenario analysis or Monte Carlo to simulate sensitivity of various factors on the outcome of the corporate portfolio. The extent to which the projects are aligned or misaligned with the strategy should also be part of the quantification.

Investment Fabric – Tying it all Together with EA 

Investment governance is more art than science for executives who ultimately use qualitative judgement for their decisions. Quantitative rigour applied to the process and mature analytics driven due-diligence process develops their gut feel and assists with alignment of views in the C-suite.

CIOs should creatively craft investment fabric to realise enterprise strategy roadmap. They should use EA to decipher correlation between proposed projects and establish P&L attribution to formulate portfolio balance sheet. Beyond the investment decisions, an effective EA can provide adequate architectural insights to the programmes and initiatives spanning across multiple product lines and business functions.

There is a lot that CIOs can leverage from the rest of the C-suite. CIOs should reclaim more power on IT strategy and decision making and by doing so enable the rest of the C-suite to drive the enterprise forward in the most efficient way possible.

Naveed RajputNaveed Rajput is an experienced strategy consultant and a business savvy technologist. He specialises in driving CXO engagements and enterprise strategy initiatives. He is a TOGAF® practitioner with well over 15 years of experience in delivering variety of complex and major global programmes including cross-functional Target Operating Models (TOM), Architecture Maturity, IT Capital Planning, and Investment Governance Initiatives. He has orchestrated technology and regulatory driven change agendas for top Fortune and FTSE financial and professional services firms including Logica, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Capco, Commerzbank, Mizuho Securities, Shell, and Wolters Kluwer-CCH.

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