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Smart Enterprise: Greater Expectations

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deliver those products to customers. The Supply Chain Division is one of four internal divisions at DHL. The other three are Mail, which handles mail and parcels in Germany; Express, which transports time-sensitive documents and packages worldwide; and Global Forwarding and Freight, which handles large freight and cargo deliveries via air or ocean. "Divisional IT will attend the customer meetings and the solutions design sessions, and form part of the value proposition to the customers," says Martin Cox, regional CIO of the Supply Chain Division, who oversees IT for DHL Supply Chain in the U.K., Ireland, France, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "They are an integrated part of that business team." For example, IT at DHL recently col- laborated with business-unit colleagues and customers to uncover cost savings in the supply chain process and identify opportunities to improve profitability. By focusing on technology and business at the same time, IT has also changed how it is perceived. That's something any CIO can implement in his or her own company, according to CIO Cox. "Ninety percent of our IT is focused on supporting our customers' supply chain," he says. "DHL Supply Chain's value proposition is to not only operate a customer supply chain, but also implement and execute the IT systems needed to make that happen effectively, efficiently and consistently." At least one industry expert thinks DHL's approach could be a model for all IT shops. "They are using a creative approach to break down the business-to-IT barrier, and that is right in the vanguard of where IT needs to go," says Dennis Drogseth, VP of technol- ogy research firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). "It's a brilliant approach. They are part of the evolution of IT from being a service provider to being a true service broker." Measuring Success While most of the IT staff under Cox's leader- ship have been formally trained in IT, many have also come from business or operational backgrounds, and acquired their IT com- petency later. What's more, a significant number of IT staff are trained in project management, and many have been certi- fied by the Project Management Institute, an international professional association. When they talk to the business, they are essentially creating a common thread. "The language they use is business language," Cox says. "They won't be talking technology. They will be talking instead about process, leveraging IT, and the implications of using technology and information to optimize those processes to reduce the metrics of the business." This helps enormously, says Cox, when it comes to one of the biggest problems IT departments typically face: funding. The business side doesn't always see the ben- efit in spending money on a project that doesn't directly affect company revenue. DHL Supply Chain's IT team doesn't see this as a major issue because they are able to communicate the soft benefits. In addition, A well-rounded IT person needs to know servers and soware, but these days there's more to the job. IT professionals must also speak the language of business. "It's why some financial institutions are getting business and IT analysts to work together," says Dennis Drogseth, VP of research firm Enterprise Manage- ment Associates. "When everyone can connect and understand each other, real work can get done." To help IT people at DHL Supply Chain speak business-ese, Martin Cox, regional CIO in the company's Supply Chain Division, plans to launch an educational program called IT Business School late this year. The 18-month course of study, conducted in classrooms and online and practiced on the job, will cover business issues such as how IT can help the business sell its offerings. "How do you articulate the value that our IT products can bring to our customer as part of our broader supply chain service offering? The course will include, among other things, innovation, IT commercialization and value proposition as well as business and IT risk management," Cox says. "By educat- ing my IT force to help the business use IT more effectively, I'm seeking to drive increased efficiency for the business." Cox's IT management team at DHL Supply Chain will be the program's first students. In fact, many of them are actually helping to create the program's curriculum and modules. Researcher Drogseth says the DHL program makes sense. "It makes the role of IT more important; it does so by humanizing IT," he says. "By giving IT more business knowledge, they're handing [it] the tools to produce real cultural change." Perhaps best of all, the IT Business School shouldn't cost DHL a single dime. "I've promised the board that I will show them how we've increased revenue from external customers and recouped our investment within 12 months," Cox says. That's an investment the business can understand. – K.J.B. LEARNING ON THE JOB "Divisional IT will attend the customer meetings and solutions design sessions, and form part of the value proposition to the customers." —Martin Cox Regional CIO | DHL Supply Chain PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF DHL 28 SMARTENTERPRISEMAG.COM

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