cfotechoutlook

Rewiring IT Architecture to Support Future Needs

By Anthony Scaglione, EVP & CFO, ABM Industries [NYSE:ABM]

Anthony Scaglione, EVP & CFO, ABM Industries [NYSE:ABM]

1. How has your IT operating model changed during the last five years?

In September of 2015, we introduced our 2020 Vision, an end-to-end transformation for how we do business moving from a services-led business to a solutions driven company organized around key market verticals (end customers). The transformation touches all facets of our business, from front-end line managers to back-end processes as we migrate to a shared service model for support. With the transformation, our IT model is beginning to evolve from a historical support infrastructure approach to a technology enabler that will help drive results through customer engagement and data analytics while supporting better decision making. IT is also taking a much more forward looking view for the business. This includes some leading edge technology, like beacon technology, that will combine internal and external data to help drive efficiencies in our labor management and customer dashboards; sensors that will be embedded in infrastructure we service or leverage that will help deliver on the promise of the Internet of Things.

"As we are looking at our technology opportunities, we have begun to remap our process flows"

In addition, we are architecting our technology roadmap to support the opportunities and growth we see in our verticals. That means we are not just plugging in point solutions. Our enterprise IT architecture is being reworked to support the needs of the future: leveraging new investments to extract information from data, driving the customer experience, and pushing information to our management team for better decision making.

2. What is your main goal in Finance space?

Within finance, technology is playing a bigger role under our 2020 vision. The goal is to leverage cloud based analytical solutions that can help provide better insights into results. What I mean here is that we are moving the role of finance from being viewed as a pure “close the books and analyze” function to a forward looking process that can help support the business in driving results through pricing, customer analytics, and metric dashboards.

3. What set of skills do you think is required for a technology leader to be successful in the new enterprise landscape?

What I look for in a technology leader is someone who can bridge process with technology. Technology, for me, is an enabler. Bad process can’t be fixed through technology. As we are looking at our technology opportunities, we have begun to remap our process flows. This means that the technologist must understand the specific actions and goals of each process. They must understand the outcomes and goals, and where things could get hung up. Therefore, they need to understand our business and what makes it “tick” and not just be an expert in technology in the pure sense.

4. Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

I think IoT will be a great opportunity for our industry. Sensors can deliver information to our people electronically creating better efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences. For example when a trash receptacle is ¾ full, we can push that information and dispatch a worker to empty it. That doesn’t sound exciting, but put that in a busy airport or commercial building where there can be thousands of receptacles and a customer will never run into an overflowing trash. That makes a great experience for all.

5. We are all dealing with technology every day. How does technology drive your life?

Well, I think it’s fair to say that most people are always connected. This can, at times, be overwhelming. Therefore, it is necessary to use that connectivity to drive productivity, and not have it overrun the day-to-day. And my best advice is to try to “unplug” from time to time—we all need to have time to decompress, sometimes the best ideas or clarity to a difficult situation come that way.