06 Mar Fusion 2008: Savage says workers must play by the same mobile IT rules
Madison, Wis. – The CIO challenge has multiple dimensions, and perhaps nobody understands this more than Stephen Savage.
Savage, chief information officer for CA, has taken the IT helm of the Islandia, N.Y.-based software company as it tries to put past turmoil in the rear view mirror. He addresed the company’s IT issues during the Fusion 2008 symposium in Madison.
CA has been going through a well-publicized transformation after operating under a deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government due to malfeasance on the part of former management, and it was handicapped by another thing – a type of bravado in which it felt there was nothing it could not do alone.
In the midst of this transformation and a bit of an attitude adjustment on its previous “go-it-alone” tendencies, the company is trying to implement SAP and get a handle on governing mobile applications.
Savage, in fact, identified creating a mobile workforce as one of CA’s principle technology challenges. Like the SAP implementation and other IT projects, introducing more mobility requires Savage to be the master of a lot of business issues while setting the IT agenda.
That means he must be an honest broker in determining which technology issues will be addressed. “My [IT] department is sort of the Petri dish for the organization,” he said.
CA reported $3.9 billion in revenue during fiscal year 2007, and has roughly 15,000 employees. It also has 40,000 devices and four mainframes, including one devoted to SAP and another to support legacy applications – including 207 independent and unsupported applications (what Savage calls “rogue apps”) in the company.
Like others, the company struggles with IT and business strategy and what its IT architecture will look like. Risk management is a huge issue for CA, a company that once was very siloed in terms of top-down information flow, and not terribly transparent to itself or its clientele. Amid all this, Savage has to reduce his budget by six percent and deliver the same level of service.
As the person who has to set the IT agenda, Savage has to be an honest broker, and one dose of honesty he has imparted about mobility is that “rules are rules.”
At CA, the interest in mobile workforce is practical as well as programmatic. The company had been operating under the assumption that every employee with an office in the company actually used that office during the day, but a bit of badge-checking research indicated that it should not have assumed that every employee with a desk used that desk.
CA found that 35 percent of its employees have desks but don’t use the office they are assigned. This revelation allowed CA to whittle away one million square feet of office space as part of its mobility program, and convinced it to provide stipends for remote employees to purchase ergonomically correct chairs for their homes.
But establishing a mobility program is about more than just more than just acknowledging and acting on employee interest. Since knowledge management probably is the single biggest worry on Savage’s, he must juggle the different expectations of workers of different ages. It’s not so much about the available technology tools, but the rules of engagement for remote work.
The decision CA ultimately makes with respect to its mobile program could impact everything from its ability to foster collaboration to its ability to attract and retain younger workers.
“I struggle with knowledge management and the way the younger generation wants it done,” he said. “The issue is there is generation that understands how you operate in a collaborative environment and the sets of rules that come into play, and then a new generation that works differently. I struggle with how best to satisfy all the masters.”
As a result, the company is working through a new set of governance rules for mobile devices. “We have figured out the technology we will employ,” Savage said, “so it really comes down the rules and behaviors around it.”
Mobile rules are rules
And despite their different expectations, Savage said the different generations would have to abide by the same set of rules governing the use of mobile devices outside the organization’s walls.
“You’ve got to have one set of rules for the organization because it’s too difficult to administer different rules for different people,” he explained. “I would argue that it would be discriminatory to have one set of rules for one group of people and a different set of rules for everybody else.”
With respect to their mobile programs, Savage said organizations have to find an accommodation to the reality without giving up on the principles, which is the hardest work that’s involved with establishing mobile work policies.
Asked if he’s had to find a compromise, given the way different generations work, Savage said good behavior and good compliance are non-negotiable. “If that means we need to do a better job educating on the whys, then we need to do a better job educating on the whys.
“This is where innovation and creativity comes to mind. How you accommodate the environment that the newer generations want to work within, while still ensuring that the right behaviors and the right compliance is delivered.”
The majority of people not coming to the office, he noted, are sales people, field service personnel and, to a smaller degree, developers. One of the benefits of the SAP program as well as CA’s Clarity implementation is that the company is able to account for people’s time.
Since the sales department is so dependent on mobile computing, revenue is a good metric to use, Savage said. He indicated the company has had five good quarters in succession, which happens to coincide with the implementation of its mobile strategy.
“If I use that as a macro measurement,” he said, “we’re doing pretty good.”
Other Fusion 2008 stories
• Fusion 2008: Robert W. Baird’s IT a strategic partner
• Mark McDonald at Fusion 2008: Shift focus to distinctive IT solutions
• Increasing IT’s business value a highlight of 2008 Fusion symposium