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In a Cloud World, IT Now Stands For Innovating Together

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Last week I spoke at the SNW Fall 2012 conference, discussing how Intuit is re-inventing IT to embrace both the challenges and opportunities presented by the cloud.

The cloud has changed the role of IT forever. IT is now critical to companies’ ability to innovate and grow. The function designs, deploys and operates all hosting platforms and dramatically impacts the speed and pace of services going to market, as well as the experience once it is in market. So the question is not when IT will transform itself, but how IT can best transform itself to spur innovation and drive growth.

At Intuit, we have experienced this change first hand. Over the last four years, we have transformed ourselves from a desktop software company to a company built around connected services where customers are able to access our services from any platform at any time. Today, connected services reaches 45 million of our 60 million customers and accounts for two-thirds of total company revenue.

This transformation required us in IT to re-imagine our role. At a basic level, IT must understand the new company strategy and the important new role it plays in driving innovation and growth.

Here are three important lessons Intuit has learned along the way.

Own the Outcome

The first step in any change is changing mindset. We needed to re-imagine ourselves as business leaders with the power and responsibility to drive business outcomes. To succeed, every person needs to know the company strategy and how they contribute to it. We had to leave our silo and work closely with other business leaders in driving innovation at the company.

Know Your Compass

We needed to galvanize our organization around a meaningful compass and ensure that we were committed to change and that we were pointed in the right direction. At Intuit, our product development has always started with deep customer empathy. To drive our own transformation, we adopted this same approach and started thinking “customer back” instead of “technology forward.” We have employed new tools, such as Net Promoter Score, that allow us to truly understand how customers are experiencing our services.  If we were to think of ourselves as business leaders, we had to learn that our first job was to delight our customers.

Experiment Fast

Once we had our mindset changed and our customer focus in place, we needed new tactics and structure to implement it all. For us, that has meant adopting approaches to innovation espoused by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup. He advocates a core idea of rapid experimentation – where small teams move fast to experiment and gain critical business insights. Using this approach, we’ve moved quickly to diagnose, understand and act successfully on many of our key initiatives.

Taken together, these three steps – owning the outcome, knowing your compass, and experimenting fast – have been key elements in our ability to transform IT at Intuit. IT used to stand for Information Technology, but now transformed by the cloud, IT truly stands for Innovating Together.

Sasan Goodarzi

As Intuit's chief information officer, Sasan is responsible for the strategy and operations of the company's technology and business infrastructure to enable growth, customer delight and improve productivity. Previously, Sasan had led other major businesses at Intuit including three years as president of Intuit Financial Services.

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