Why BMC software charged its head of employee experience with running IT
Almost four years ago, BMC Software was taken private, even though it touted a vast portfolio of Fortune 500 companies. While it was successful and profitable, it had failed to optimize its cost structure and struggled to grow in the highly competitive tech environment of Silicon Valley.
Going private, and reorganizing without the scrutiny of being a public company, BMC transformed, reshaping everything from its branding to its leadership team. Part of the restructuring including rethinking how the technology company would address IT internally.
BMC had to entirely rethink its internal organization. While companies are becoming more adept at addressing the digital needs of customers, many organizations fail to focus innovation inward and look at the employee infrastructure.
As part of the corporate renovation, BMC broke down the departmental silos that exist in many companies today. Working to build a more digital workplace, BMC restructured its approach to technology and tasked Monika Fahlbusch, senior vice president and chief employee experience officer at BMC Software, with running technology across departments in the company.
That means, all of IT — including the CIO — along with HR, facilities and real estate, security, employee communications and community relations report directly to Fahlbusch.
"That's by design because all of those touch points — particularly HR and IT — are very significant in terms of how employees feel about the workplace," Fahlbusch said. "While we're disrupting the industry for our customers, sometimes you turn internally and it just doesn't feel right. It feels like there's a breakdown between what we're doing for the market and then our experience inside our own company."
It is becoming more common for companies to ask CIOs to do more with less, contributing to the bottom line, while innovating for the future and keeping systems running. While CIOs are becoming more savvy at driving efficiency and figuring in the business side of IT, that is not necessarily where their expertise always lies.
While Scott Crowder, senior vice president and chief information officer at BMC, can balance infrastructure, cost optimization and the creative side of business, that's a bit unique, according to Fahlbusch.
"Core IT is not always known as an innovative department. It's not always known as the natural place where the business would go to consume services," she said.
"One of the reasons I think it makes a ton of sense for HR, IT and other departments to bash together is, the fact is everything we do that touches employees [and] is delivered through technology. It's just a fact," she said. "What we believe at BMC is the more you engage with the technology side, while keeping an eye on the process and people and experience side, the better it is."
But why bring in a department outsider to take charge of technology at BMC? Though Fahlbusch does not have a background in technology, she has had experience in the sector. Before joining the company in late 2014, she headed HR at Salesforce during a high growth period and was the SVP of HR, communication and IT at the Old Navy division of Gap Inc.
Her experience and expertise stem from the cost optimization or budget management side, something she says is neither "interesting or sexy."
"I am not a technical person. I could not be the CIO of BMC," Fahlbusch said. "So where I add value is to help our IT team do things that I'm good at." For Fahlbusch, that involves shaping the reputation and branding of technology at the executive level, ensuring "table stakes" are not questioned.
In an environment that constantly faces capital constraints, "what happens is those table stakes of really optimizing our infrastructure and being able to articulate very clearly to your executive team and to the board — and in our case to our owners because we're a private company — you must demonstrate you are optimized," Fahlbusch said. "If it's done correctly, you can free up capital, which allows you to further drive innovation."
Without optimization, whether it's in the data centers or on unified communication platforms, IT decision makers won't get permission to do anything else, particularly because those are massive drivers of cost, according to Fahlbusch. But once companies optimize their underlying technology backbone, they can start discussing more interesting things, such as how IT can become a strategic partner.
All the attention paid toward technology really comes down to workforce demands, according Fahlbusch, particularly from the young people coming into the workforce today. While they've been patient in terms of their workplace experience thus far, "I think they will not be patient much longer," she said.
"They will begin to reject companies and cultures that do not feel like how they interact with technology in their personal lives. They will expect disruptive technology, they will expect to have their hands on a lot of process. They will expect to have things bespoke in the way they want them."
Follow Naomi Eide on Twitter