Information technology (IT) has, over the past half-century, migrated from being a specialized technical discipline staffed by computer scientists, to the position it occupies today at the very center of enterprise capabilities and assets. Regardless of industry sector or geographic location, running a company, a governmental agency, or an enterprise of any other kind has, quite simply, become inconceivable without the technologies, skills and resources found in the typical IT function. In many instances, IT is not only an enabler of productive activity on a vast scale, but a source of differentiation and competitive advantage.
The IT function in a typical corporation can employ hundreds or even thousands of professionals, and account for up to 10% or more of net revenue in annual spending. No major initiative of any kind can be effectively implemented without detailed preparation of the IT infrastructure and the applications required to support the program. Given the immense importance that IT has assumed in the life of an enterprise, it is unsurprising that mastering the management of an IT organization has become as important as mastering the technology itself.
The centrality of IT as a tool for every organization provides the rationale for this book. If a professionally run IT function is essential to every business, government or non-profit enterprise, then running IT like a business is the only logical way to run IT. This has been our approach at Accenture since our company was established. Rather than treating IT strictly as a service function or cost center, we have chosen to apply the same rigorous management disciplines to our internal IT capability as we do to managing the rest of our business. In so doing, we have accumulated a body of policies and practices that have been tested over time and have proved their worth. We are pleased to share these insights with our colleagues throughout the IT community in the interest of advancing the professionalism of IT as a discipline, and to highlight the indispensable value of IT as a contributor to high performance in an enterprise.
This book presents not my IT story, but Accenture’s story, and I am privileged to share it. I have had the honor of working with an absolutely superb team of IT professionals at Accenture throughout my career, and I am grateful to them all for the many things they have taught me along the way. So I extend a special thanks to my colleagues around the world who work inside Accenture’s internal IT function – which we refer to as the Accenture CIO Organization.
At Accenture, we believe that we have one of the best IT organizations in the world. Who knows if this is true? There are talented IT professionals working day after day in enterprises large and small. I have had opportunities to meet many IT colleagues at other companies and enterprises, and I am always impressed by their commitment to their profession, by the energy they devote to their work, and by their willingness to make sacrifices for the people they serve. There is, of course, no way of definitively saying who is best. So let it suffice to say that we aspire to be the best. There can be nothing wrong with such an aspiration, and it is one that I am sure we share with all our colleagues across the IT industry.