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Music of the Peers

MBA, CPA, CIO. How about all three?
Scott Leibs, CFO IT
September 15, 2004

For a glimpse into the future of IT management, consider Irving H. "Bubba" Tyler. A few facts about him:

Having looked at life from both sides now, his views on finance-IT partnerships carry some weight. Like many CIOs, Tyler reports to his company's CFO. Unlike many CIOs, he doesn't seem to mind. "Someone has to assess my performance," he jokes, "but I sit on our global operations team and deal directly with almost two dozen business leaders. You need some kind of oversight, but you also need to work as peers, and we've struck that balance."

Certainly it must be music to the ears of his CFO when Tyler says, "I appreciate the importance of good fiscal controls; that's just part of my DNA." But Tyler says the true measure of an effective finance-IT partnership doesn't depend solely on IT being able to speak the language of finance; it also depends on "orchestration." As he says, "You may need the conductor to tap the baton occasionally to get people's attention, but the final result really hinges on all the musicians knowing their parts and executing them perfectly."

Orchestration depends on a number of other factors as well, as we explore in this issue's cover story (see "Stand by Me"). We couldn't help but be struck by how often key members of a company's IT staff have solid finance and/or operations experience. Sometimes it surpasses their IT experience, yet neither they nor their bosses seem concerned about that. In fact, while most CFOs seem intent on fostering greater financial savvy throughout the IT department, they are largely indifferent to the importance of IT literacy within the finance group. Does that create disharmony? Usually not. As Tyler suggests, someone has to call the tune.