Aligning IT Organizations with Business Strategy

It's typical for leadership staff within IT organizations (i.e., VPs/CIOs) to organically advance through technology ranks, silo'ed to focus on the latest technologies or the latest delivery methodologies. The broad-scale shift to digitalization of business processes within all functional areas now requires that CIOs shift from delivery executives to business executives.

Not only do CIOs need to align their organizations closely with business strategy, but they also need to act as one of the key executives to drive business growth.

At Crosstrees, we have built our IT services to encompass this exact concept: that

For optimal organizational performance, modern IT executives need to fully align their organizations with their company's overall business strategy.

When it comes to IT strategy, here are a few considerations:

Reporting structure

One of the main alignment indicators is the way IT is organized within the company. It's probably no surprise that many companies still view IT as a cost center. We recently worked with a multi-billion dollar global public company where the CIO reported to the CFO, and we have experience with companies where the CMO was responsible for IT (what?!). This perspective clearly signals lack of focus on IT as a business driver, and pushes IT to a purely operational role. The CIOs of companies who focus on IT as a business driver report directly into the CEO, with tight involvement with all aspects of the business.

Direct Impact on Revenues

It's typical to think of IT organizations as helping their companies with efficiencies and cost savings through business process automation, better planning, etc. However, high performing IT organizations also have a direct impact on company revenues and touch all aspects of their company's growth metrics. According to a Gartner Symposium survey of over 3,000 CIOs globally, 84% of CIOs from "top digital performers" have responsibilities outside of IT. These companies also generate more digital revenue and have more digital processes than their typical peers.

gartner top performers.jpg

 

There are many many examples of CIOs driving extreme revenue growth, and in fact, they are now expected to be actively involved in revenue generation. And no, you don't need to be the size of GE to use these as guiding principles.

Business vs Technology Approach

While IT organizations can't take their eyes off the latest technologies, there will be a shift to move beyond operations with less focus on deep technology (typically offered through vendors), and more focus on organizational needs and trajectory. Not only at the VP/CIO level, all mid level and line managers in IT will also need tight collaboration with various functions within business in order to solve their business needs through the use of technology.

A shift in skill set within IT will align it better with the company's transformation and growth. Internal staff with skills such as user experience design, cloud architecture, analytics, and API expertise can help companies lead their digital transformation. Information and data analytics will lead companies in various aspects of the organization including revenue growth.

IT Involvement in Innovation

According to a Harvard Business Review Study [PDF], the CIOs of "innovation accelerators" are significantly more likely to spend their time on activities that are strategic to the business. The innovation accelerators also have strong IT departments that actively and productively contribute to the corporate innovation agenda.

Innovation can involve product development, logistics, sales/marketing, or internal operations: ways in which the company excels in doing things better.

Crosstrees offers IT/technology services including IT strategy, program management, business process automation, and related services. Feel free to contact us to discuss your technology needs.

Crosstrees Announces 2017 IT Planning Workshops for Cruise Companies

Customized facilitated sessions bring focus to the needs of the organization, and help plan and prioritize IT initiatives and budgets for 2017

October 27, 2016 – Crosstrees, a provider of IT services for the cruise industry, today announced customized planning workshops to help cruise companies plan and prioritize their IT needs for 2017. 

Crosstrees offers a quick and highly effective methodology to help cruise companies define and prioritize a 12-15 month IT plan, effectively helping transform the IT organization from a service organization into a full business partner.

"With the 2017 cruise sales well underway, and the 2018 itineraries being planned and marketed, Crosstrees can help cruise companies focus on the objectives and plans for their 2017 IT initiatives," said Kat Shoa, Crosstrees Managing Partner. "These intensive, short, and powerful sessions help remove the element of surprise from IT initiatives with clearly defined activities, resource, and budget plans."

Cruise companies can differentiate themselves through the smart use of technology at all passenger touch points from initial contact, to purchase and the BND period, to boarding the ship, and the onboard experience. The systems employed by cruise companies, therefore, are a mix of typical enterprise systems and specialized systems specifically used by cruise companies. This puts increased demand on IT organizations to maintain a mix of open and proprietary systems to fulfill all the organization's needs:

  • Reservations conversion and service performance

  • Customer and credit card data security (PII/PCI)

  • Inventory and yield management

  • Property management and on-board technologies

  • Integration between various customer facing, TA partner, and internal systems

  • Marketing support technologies and business intelligence (BI)

"The importance of IT in the cruise business has been growing for over a decade," said Kevin Hughes, Crosstrees Managing Partner, and formerly Head of Global Program Management at Viking River Cruises. "With continued business dependency on technology, increased complexity of customer-facing and internal systems, as well as the pressure for operational efficiencies, the challenge becomes clear identification and prioritization of IT needs across the organization."

Several factors contribute to IT failure within the enterprise including:

  • Lack of clear agreed goals

  • Improper resource and budget allocation

  • Over-optimism to complete initiatives

  • Weak ownership and governance

  • Technology complexity and interdependency

Through its strategic IT planning sessions, Crosstrees helps cruise companies to take a step back from their day-to-day operations in order to clarify their IT objectives, focus on well-defined IT initiatives, and achieve executive buy-in and budgeting for a prioritized IT plan. Utilizing face to face interviews and an intensive 3-day workshop with company stakeholders representing all functions and levels of the organization, Crosstrees helps cruise companies uncover issues and focus the entire organization on a unified IT plan with a 12-15 month blueprint of initiatives.

Contact Crosstrees for more information: www.crosstrees.tech

Crosstrees and TokenEx announce strategic partnership to offer data security and credit card tokenization services to the cruise industry

The fully integrated solution reduces PCI compliance costs and the risk of data theft

October 13, 2016 – Crosstrees, a provider of IT services to the cruise industry, today announced a strategic partnership with TokenEx, a leading provider of a cloud security platform with tokenization, encryption, and data vaulting as a unified software-as-a-service (SaaS).

"We are very excited about joining forces with TokenEx to provide a fully integrated data security and tokenization solution to cruise companies," said Kevin Hughes, Crosstrees Managing Partner, and formerly Head of Program Management at Viking Cruises. "TokenEx offers in-depth data security expertise that results in operational efficiencies through reduced PCI compliance costs as well as reduced risk of data theft."

Cruise lines collect guest Payment Card Information (PCI) for reservations, services, and accommodations, as well as gather their contact information and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII) necessary for travel and safety. Additionally, they operate in omni-channel payment environments, relying on multiple payment processing partners. The complexity of the travel industry means there are many information systems – and people – that touch, process, and store both PCI and PII, making cruise companies a prime target for hackers.

To eliminate the risk of compromising customer data, cruise lines can deploy a combination of encryption, tokenization, and cloud data vaulting to intercept incoming sensitive data at every possible entry point. This layered approach to data security ensures that no PCI or PII is accepted, stored, or transmitted by IT systems that could be hacked, infected with malware, or inadvertently exposed by personnel.

"Uniting Crosstrees' tremendous experience in the cruise line industry with TokenEx' expertise in data security offers a superb tokenization solution for cruise companies," said Alex Pezold, CEO and Co-Founder of TokenEx. "Together, we will execute quick, large-scale, industry-specific implementations and integration covering all the touch points within cruise companies. It's a very exciting partnership for TokenEx!"

With TokenEx, Crosstrees offers a complete PCI/PII security solution for cruise companies at every transaction point including:

- Corporate headquarters bookings and call centers

- Online bookings and purchases

- Port-side transactions

- Ship-side Transactions

- Customer loyalty programs

 

 

Crosstrees is located in Los Angeles, California, and operates internationally.

More information at: www.crosstrees.tech

 

TokenEx is located in Edmond, Oklahoma, and operates internationally.

More information at: www.tokenex.com

 

Crosstrees Launches Cruise Industry IT Services

    The company offers IT services to solve specific cruise industry challenges through methodologies that significantly improve ROI, conversion rates, and revenues.

The company offers IT services to solve specific cruise industry challenges through methodologies that significantly improve ROI, conversion rates, and revenues.

September 29, 2016 – Crosstrees today announced the launch of IT services to address specific challenges within the cruise industry. Crosstrees was founded and is lead by IT industry veterans with extensive experience leading and managing IT organizations.
 
"Over the past two decades, the cruise industry has experienced sustained growth, both in revenues and number of passengers. From 2000 to 2020, the number of cruise passengers is projected to more than quadruple to over 25 million passengers annually," said Kat Shoa, Crosstrees Managing Partner. "IT services simply haven't caught up with that growth. We recognize that the industry is underserved, and we aim to close that gap."
 
Crosstrees has launched with a number of IT services, with an eye on continual growth of its offering. The company currently offers:
 
IT strategy: strategic augmentation of CIO / VP level organizational and IT development through strategic roadmap development, technology selection, IT alignment to "customer journey", business case analysis, and organizational build-out.
 
Credit card data security and tokenization: data theft risk elimination and PCI compliance cost reduction for call center bookings, ship-side, port-side, and online purchases, and customer loyalty programs.
 
Reservation systems implementation: rapid deployment of new or upgraded reservation systems through system selection, vendor management, system implementation, and execution.
 
Advanced user-centered design: significant operational efficiency and conversion rate improvement for call center agents, web users, and travel agents through usability improvements of systems, and timely and appropriate data availability based on human interactions.
 
Program and project management: tactical organizational augmentation for changing organizations during growth, contraction, or M&A consolidation.
 
 
"With lagging IT services, cruise companies face specific challenges within their marketing operations, call centers, and general business operations," said Kevin Hughes, Crosstrees Managing Partner, and formerly Head of Program Management at Viking River Cruises. "Our offering aims to provide a shift in the way IT is viewed within the cruise industry in order to significantly improve ROI, conversion rates, and revenues."
 
Crosstrees is located in Los Angeles, California, and operates internationally.
 
More information at: www.crosstrees.tech