Microsoft-Enabling a Culture Shift in the Enterprise

Michael Nation, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi North America
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Michael Nation, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi North America

Changes in the Roles of CIOs

The last four to five years has seen the emergence of the cloud, Big Data analytics, mobility, digital marketing and enterprise social capabilities within the workplaces. This enterprise transformation has forced many CIOs, including myself, to work very differently. Gone are the days of IT departments dictating the technologies of an organization. My team at Bacardi has had to concede a bit of technology control in order to find new ways of partnering with business leaders to collaboratively secure the right solutions to enable our business strategies. We had to do this while at the same time ensuring a cohesive technology architecture and manageable cost base for the entire company.

Bacardi has had to look very differently at how we respond to the various technology trends. Take digital marketing, as an example. At Bacardi in North America, despite the obvious synergies to be achieved in an ever-increasing digital world, the Marketing and Information Technology functions have historically been virtually siloed from one another. The main issue preventing collaboration was Marketing’s belief that the IT organization did not have the agility and speed to respond to Marketing’s evolving needs for unique consumer experiences. The reality is the IT offering was limited in its capabilities. In addition, it was highly fragmented and had virtually no governance model. By understanding the gap in the IT solutions and the needs of our Marketing partners, we’ve been able to secure a set of cloud based technology services to create a high quality, global, efficient and secure digital marketing platform for both our Marketers and their agency partners to deliver upon. Our (IT’s) goal was not to “control” the technologies of our Marketing team, but rather to provide the core capabilities needed in order to allow them to focus on the creative aspects of capturing the hearts and minds of our consumers.

The above is an example of how the role of the CIO is changing. In many ways, the role is becoming more and more difficult. CIOs are required to run base services (network, communications, etc.) at the highest levels and meet cost efficiency targets, while delivering bigger, more strategic projects at lower cost. The only way I’ve found to meet these challenges is to look into “the cloud” for support. We’ve been able to successfully leverage cloud based infrastructure and application vendors to provide best in class services ranging from our digital marketing platform to our Human Resources applications, to our enterprise collaboration platform, MS365. Not only have we seen favorability in the traditional IT measurements of time to market and cost saving, but we’re leveraging our cloud based partnerships to reach new levels of innovation that historically would have taken exponentially more time and funding to achieve.

Latest Microsoft Implementation Helping CIOs

While we’ve been enterprise users of the Office suite for many years, Bacardi very recently migrated to the Microsoft collaboration platform, MS365. While the cost benefits of leveraging a single platform for all of the components of enterprise collaboration (Outlook, Lync, SharePoint, OneDrive, etc.) and the functionality gains resulting in increased productivity were expected, what we didn’t fully comprehend was the culture shift that the platform would enable. Within a matter of months we’ve seen our levels of collaboration and knowledge sharing increase dramatically. The key application, our hidden jewel, driving this transformational change is Yammer.

“The marketing and information technology functions have historically been virtually siloed from one another”

Yammer has fundamentally changed the way we have conversations and share data at Bacardi. Instead of sending email blasts to seek help or broadcast information, our associates are posting to Yammer and getting near real-time feedback not only from their inner circles, but also from colleagues they would have never included in the dialogue. With its mobile capability, Yammer has reconnected our remote sales force not only to each other, but with their regional and global colleagues as well. The ability to stay connected and tap into regional expertise has enabled our sales force to spend less time acquiring information and allowed them to focus on market execution and relationship building.

Our North America business unit has initiated a program called “Picture of Success.” Our associates are encouraged to share “selfies” of themselves executing in the marketplace. By exposing our marketplace excellence with these shared pictures, we’re able to not only celebrate the achievements of our teams, but also share best practices for application in other markets. Prior to our implementation of Yammer, this very simple, yet hugely impactful initiative simply would not have been possible.

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