Moving Toward Better Business/Technology Leadership

At New York-Presbyterian, CEO Herbert Pardes, also a medical doctor, is intensely involved in technology decisions. “The CEO, as well as the COO, agree that a really robust information technology infrastructure provides the required underpinning for getting health care to where it needs to go on these quality measures and efficiencies,” Boyer said. “To this end, our executives have the widely held view that technology is one of our critical initiatives.”

Boyer herself is a trained nurse.

“My background in nursing gives me certain advantages. In addition to being a nurse, I’ve held many different administrative roles in a hospital. Together this experience has helped me to understand how the workflow goes, and how the patients move, and, thereby why the management dashboard needs to look like it does. I can better discern what constitutes helpful data and what doesn’t. My staff comprises many nurses and a few practicing physicians who work for us part time. These physicians provide us with the best of both worlds by helping us to make good decisions about what systems we should be using. In the next decade, most healthcare CIOs will be MDs.”

Questions for reflection:

If you are on the “business side” of your company, are you able to talk intelligently with the technologists and understand what they are trying to tell you? Are you engaged in technology decisions?

If you are on the “technology side,” are you able to recognize your jargon, drop it, and explain technology in terms the business people will understand? Do you have input on business strategy?

More to the point: do you or your organization still think in terms of “sides?”

Would you be able to function as CEO Pardes and CIO Boyer do, making decisions about both the business and the technology knowledgeably? If not, what are you missing?

Stories such as these provide real-world guidance for leaders in these extraordinary times. The patterns of organizational structure and behavior that got us to this point won’t take us into the future. Neither will our old attitudes and skills. The situation at New York-Presbyterian is still somewhat rare but not unknown. The line between business and technology has blurred and even disappeared at many leading companies. The split between business and technology minds may have been normal in the early days, but it is unnecessary and even harmful today.

Convergence has many faces. It begins with a comprehensive self-examination by an enterprise that leads to a unique, customized roadmap for maturity advancement of their business technology management practices. It is also true that leaders who practice business technology management, by whatever name they call it, bring to it different skills, perspectives and practices. Their particular priorities are an important component, because the road to convergence is different for each company, depending on where it currently finds itself.

These matters are no longer someone else’s problem. The changes required to get a company in fighting shape will be the responsibility of every leader, no matter his or her function or level.

Faisal Hoque is an internationally known entrepreneur and author, and the founder and CEO of BTM Corporation. For his commitment to business/technology convergence, CIO Quarterly magazine designated him “Mr. Convergence.” In May 2008, the editors of Ziff-Davis Enterprise named him as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Technology for helping organizations transform into “whole-brained enterprises.” BTM innovates business models and enhances financial performance by converging business and technology with its products and intellectual property.