Focusing on the Core Competencies

Jesus Unzueta, SVP and Global CIO, TrueBlue Inc
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Jesus Unzueta, SVP and Global CIO, TrueBlue Inc

The Technology’s New Role

We are transforming the IT function to be a key partner to the business by linking IT strategy to business strategy. Right now we are working with our business leaders to implement technology that makes it easier for our workers and customers to do business with us. In our staffing solutions brand, we’re in the process of maturing a mobile application that will allow workers to view available jobs that have been matched with their specific skills. They can then select or pass on the job just by swiping the screen. If they want to know more, they’ll have the relevant details of the job location, duration and client contact information. We’re planning on making it just as easy for our clients to use similar technology to place new orders, repeat or extend existing orders, and complete payment transactions.

At PeopleScout, where we help businesses around the world recruit candidates and fill permanent positions, our emphasis is on providing business intelligence and predictive analytics to our clients. We now have the ability to deliver dashboard type views that allow our clients to drill into many aspects of their business such as the best time to hire and the pool of available candidates.

It really gives clients a snapshot of how healthy their businesses are in terms of the use of their workforce. We can take this data further for clients by integrating national, industry or competitive intelligence that enables them to better understand exactly what is happening around them and within their industry. Instead of reacting, they can take a forward-looking view to get ahead of the competition.

  Rather than big solutions, we need solutions that are highly flexible and integrate relatively quickly throughout the entire supply chain.  

The Technology Nightmares

I don’t know if I can say any one technology challenge keeps me awake at night. Technology is moving at such a rapid pace in both good and bad directions that I have to constantly weigh the benefits and risks of investing in, or avoiding, various solutions.

Cybersecurity is obviously at the forefront of everyone’s mind on the leadership team, but the biggest challenge is figuring out how to move our technology fast enough to stay ahead of the aggressive growth plans set by our brand presidents. Our leaders are looking to technology to build business and drive productivity across their teams. Fortunately, TrueBlue’s IT department is brought in throughout the company to listen to what business leaders want to accomplish and to provide input on how we can realistically move faster and deliver more for our workers, clients and employees.

Technology partners and vendors need to be worried about the same thing I think about every day: How can they help TrueBlue IT move faster with proven solutions that are at the right price and demonstrate value? I am not necessarily focused on buying a piece of equipment or an application. What I am focused on is what that purchase means toward protecting, enabling, and advancing our business, coupled with delivering excellent service throughout our partnership. I want from our external partners exactly what our business leaders want from IT.

The Hashtag Trends

The value of IT is realized through delivering business solutions, not in owning technology just for the sake of owning technology. In fact, the more you own and have to maintain, the slower you may be to respond when business conditions demand new innovation. That’s why we have to continue pushing the boundary on cloud adoption and enablement, even though it could take years because of decades of previous architecture approaches to technology solutions. This work needs to start now to drive business value down the road.

The same holds true for all aspects of mobile enablement, big data and social communities that use technology beyond the standard social media apps. The world of work is changing as businesses and workers demand more flexibility and a big part of how they want to interact with us — and define success — will involve technologies that make that flexibility possible. They want to work with us the same way they do with other aspects of their lives, which is increasingly through mobile devices. People want to manage their professional careers as efficiently as possible so they can focus more on their family and personal time, and the technology we’re working toward does that. That gives businesses and workers more reason to engage us, so it’s a winning combination for everyone.

Doing the Right Thing

There are very few stand-alone, end-to-end comprehensive solutions that meet our entire needs across our enterprise. Those that do exist are massive in complexity, management, and cost, which is why a lot of today’s companies are not interested in them. Rather than big solutions, we need solutions that are highly flexible and integrate relatively quickly throughout the entire supply chain without limitations on how a particular solution or component may be used. I would rather partner with multiple smaller, best-in-class solution providers who work together than engaging in a very long sales cycle with one or two partners who believe they can be everything to everyone. This model does not work anymore for our business, or many others, in today’s business world. The costs and risks of getting it wrong are too high.

Bringing in All Together

IT is at its best when it builds effective internal and external teams that enable and deliver business solutions, not in what technology you own. The fact is, many vendors can deliver technology faster and better than a lot of internal IT organizations. CIOs need to quit worrying about “owning” or building everything for the sake of corporate technology and focus more on bringing everything together to drive competitive advantage.

We have to think more like chief operating officers rather than chief information officers, which means we need to look at the best way to reach business objectives and not just how to make sure everyone is connected. IT is one of the few areas that see across the entire enterprise — including sales, operations, finance, legal, HR and more — so we have the perfect opportunity to influence and drive business solutions faster and better without having to build it all. This is not suggesting we abdicate our role and corporate responsibilities as they relate to technology, but to suggest we can provide more value, move faster, and drive business and technology flexibility by focusing on our core competencies and letting other focus on theirs. Our value is in bringing it all together in ways that drive business solutions. 

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