Should IT function as a separate business function, and not merely as a support organization? Diversey's Brent Hoag thinks so. Hoag is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Diversey, a leading business-to-business provider of institutional cleaning and sanitation solutions.
In an article titled, 'Diversey's Brent Hoag: IT is a Brand unto Itself', published in the Wipro-Knowledge@Wharton CIO series, Hoag says, "We have our own IT brand that we hope will stand the challenges over time." At Diversey, IT generates innovation and value through internal marketing campaigns that are tied to the company's growth.
How did Diversey change its IT department from being a mere reactive functional shop to being a business unto itself? The first step was to outsource all non-core functions, such as support, to third parties. The department had to reorganize itself to become more relevant - to be innovative rather than reactive.
Luckily for the department, implementing Google Apps in 2009 across a 12,000-user enterprise helped create great visibility for IT. Google Apps put Diversey's internal IT brand on the entire company's radar, as it represented the number one ROI (return-on-investment) project in the company's history. Sustainability got a boost as well, as the company saved a lot on carbon emissions by replacing its servers with Google's. Legal and HR began using a cost-effective e-discovery system for which Google provided functionality, resulting in costs saving there as well. Diversey also reduced its telecom costs by enabling its people to collaborate using email, docs, and chat.
There were intangible benefits as well. Aside from the impressive ROI, today there is a perception that IT is a trusted entity at Diversey. In the wake of the Google Apps success, Diversey IT established its own internal sales and marketing team to help build excitement for future projects. Today at Diversey, IT's role is to turn people on to technology, create a buzz and launch new products "long before the tools of today become outdated," says Hoag.
Of course, the Diversey model requires strong outsourcing partners. The company leverages an ecosystem of partners to deliver services, and expects them to bring in ideas that, help Diversey understand the new technologies on the horizon and how it will be able to deploy them. One of Diversey's most important outside technology partners helping to support the efforts is Wipro Technologies.
Do you think that the IT department can work as a separate business function? What challenges will this entail? Let us know your views - we'd love to hear from you!