Technology & Innovation

Five pillars of IT alignment

January 15, 2015


January 15, 2015

Patty Hatter

Senior vice president, operations and Chief information officer

Patty Hatter is responsible for innovating and executing a sustainable transformation of Intel Security's operational processes and infrastructure across the global organization. As CIO, Hatter is responsible for driving cross-functional partnerships to accelerate delivery of strategic business priorities that impact bottom line profitability. Focused on driving world-class operational effectiveness and scalability, Hatter leads all facets of McAfee's ongoing transactional business and shared services, as well as IT, risk and compliance, and M&A integration. She was previously vice president of business operations at Cisco where she dually reported to the heads of operations and channels, responsible for driving tighter integration and improved productivity and performance between Cisco and the channel partners.  Hatter was cited as a "game-changer" by partners and industry analysts alike.


Intel Security CIO Patty Hatter explains how she aligns IT with the rest of the organisation

Every CIO understands that the IT department works best when it acts as a collaborative working partner with the other units of the organisation. And most realise that IT can no longer afford to take a back seat, and instead must pro-actively align itself with the organisation’s global business goals.

But both of these are easier said than done. Here are five elements of IT-business alignment that set the working foundation between IT and business at Intel Security.


My role is leader of both the IT and operations functions at Intel Security.  I see the way these two teams work together as a model for inter-departmental collaboration, and it relies in large part on the governance structure we have put in place.

The structure aligns IT with the other business units by making sure the IT departments participate in projects early on and all along the way. This means that IT understands the context that surrounds any request they receive from business units.

For example, our Executive Operating Committee, made up of function heads from around the organisation, chooses which projects will be global priorities. IT and operations facilitate this process by pulling together business cases to understand which program would create the greatest business impact, considering budget, resources, or overall architecture and strategy.

This cross-functional decision-making body, spanning all of the business functions, has accelerated our ability to transform the products and services we deliver to our customers. 

Driving innovation  

Technology mega-trends fundamentally change what the company needs to do to help improve business agility in the future, and CIOs must lead the company in adopting the innovations they are seeing in the marketplace. After all, IT is the place where technology innovation comes together.

In our case, IT has been a vocal advocate of cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS), as we believe they will benefit our customers. And because we built the trust of the other business units and engaged with them proactively, we have earned their support for our SaaS strategy. Furthermore, we have been able to pool budgets and use them to achieve company-wide goals.

Change management

Good ideas, even great ideas, will always have a shelf life.  As a leader, I’ve learned I must be the first to accept a change, and to let the old ways go, for the better of my organisation. It’s a hard lesson to learn, particularly when you are letting go of something you put your heart into.  

Within the IT organisation, I’ve seen many of our fantastic ideas run their course. But we recognise the need to adapt to new business models and new technology in order to move forward. In order to move forward, we have accepted the evolving nature business, and we know that we must to be willing to throw everything out and keep moving forward to innovate.  

The learning organisation

The health of an IT organisation depends on its ability to examine what we don’t know, what we can do differently, and where we need to go in the future.

As technology moves from hardware to software-based platforms, the ability for startups to come out with exciting and useful new products has increased tremendously. That’s a great thing, but we nevertheless need to strike a balance between maintaining architectural consistency and incorporating innovation.

To succeed, we really have to place learning into the DNA of the organisation. Thankfully, our governance strategy helps us avoid getting lost in the day-to-day activities by steering us towards learning outcomes that move use forward.

Running the race

The expectations that our internal and external customers place on IT and the pace at which we have to reinvent ourselves, are always increasing. Our business - security - is a round-the-clock requirement, and the pressure only intensifies as more and more confidential information is shared online.

In the face of the ever-growing number and variety of threats that threaten to compromise that information, we must move at a faster pace than ever before. It’s a tall order, but one that we are prepared and proud to take on. With this challenge, we strive to be a valuable component to the tech community. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited (EIU) or any other member of The Economist Group. The Economist Group (including the EIU) cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this article or any of the information, opinions or conclusions set out in the article.

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