The Art of Communication

Anthony Malakian, deputy editor, BST

Anthony examines the importance of communication when enacting an IT overhaul.

What's the point of throwing money and manpower at an ambitious IT project if it’s doomed to fall apart at the seams due to lack of communication?

In theory, communication is the simplest part of any infrastructure overhaul. After all, if a complete upgrade is necessary in the first place, then there should be immediate benefits to be had. And from a long-term perspective, everyone involved will hopefully benefit from greater ease of use and efficiency.

Without proper feedback, workers get antsy. Things fall between the cracks. Frustration builds and those using the technology don't understand why they are being forced to use new applications. Superstars start sharpening their resumes.

Simply put, proper communication is fundamental to any successful implementation.

In the February issue of Waters, we profile Jean Hill, CTO of First New York Securities. Hill, who was formerly the deputy CTO at the New York Fed, and has served stints at Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, was brought in to essentially build First NY's infrastructure from scratch.

The amount of progress that has been made is quite impressive and Hill says one of the most valuable lessons she learned was the need for communication.

"All too often, the people who purchase technology and the people who consume technology are different," she says. "The consumer is the end user and you often forget to communicate to the consumer, explain to them why they are using something new, get their feedback, and get them involved."

The truth is that CTOs and CIOs can easily forget they are usually talking to their other C-level peers when developing strategy. While the vision may be strong and will be for the betterment of the firm, the workers using these new technologies and the ones implementing those technologies aren't involved in those meetings with the CEO, CFO and COO, much less the board of directors.

As Hill points out, it is easy to forget to spread the word as to why something is being done. But it's also important to remember this: As expensive as any project can be, the cheapest part is communication, because that doesn't cost a dime—yet it is vitally important.


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