Johnson & Johnson is the world’s most “comprehensive and broadly based manufacturer of health…
Johnson & Johnson is the world’s most “comprehensive and broadly based manufacturer of health care products, as well as a provider of related services, for the consumer, pharmaceutical, and medical devices and diagnostic markets” according to its Web site. Consider what it must be like to be the chief information officer (CIO) of a division of Johnson & Johnson located in a developing country. On one hand, you are affiliated with one of the most technologically-advanced corporations in the world. On the other, you are working to support operations in a poor and technologically-young environment. Such is the task of Sadiq Rowther, regional IT director for Johnson & Johnson ASEAN, Phillipines. The Phillipines division of Johnson & Johnson is well aware of the importance of information systems to a business’s success. Sadiq Rowther is involved in making all of the company’s key business decisions. While some business executives still perceive an IS department as a back-office operation that provides support functions, smart businesses, like Johnson & Johnson are including the CIO in top-level decisions.
CIO Sadiq Rowther participates in customer interfaces in order to better understand the issues the company faces. He believes that a CIO must think like a business owner. “The value I bring to the leadership team is really how IT can seize a business opportunity and bring about a solution that uses a combination of both business and IT skills,” Rowther explained in a Computerworld interview.
Johnson & Johnson Philippines utilizes information systems to automate its core functions including supply chain, order processing, and finance. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from SAP ties together all the systems into one cohesive system. Unfortunately, much of the corporation’s IT budget is used in systems maintenance, and it is difficult to find funding for innovative advances. Sadiq Rowther implements new systems by tying them to organizational goals. “Whatever we are doing in IT has to help grow the business,” Rowther is quoted as saying. In fact, rather than calling them information system or IT projects, Johnson & Johnson calls them IT-enabled business projects.
An example of some IT-enabled business projects includes the recently launched Neutrogena Philippines Web site (www.neutrogena.com.ph). Rowther looks at the project as a “direct-to-consumer approach for targeted marketing,” and collaborated closely with the brand team to make sure the site was effective. In another project, Rowther worked closely with sales and marketing to streamline the ordering process for Johnson & Johnson distributors. The resulting system provided faster and more reliable order processing. Rowther is currently working on a project to get smart phones in the hands of the sales force and provide mobile software tools to help Johnson & Johnson sales and service representatives be more effective. Working on a shoestring budget, Rowther has to constantly prioritize the company’s information system projects and decide which are financially feasible. He teaches his team to continuously check for the “value-add to the business” when considering information system expenditures. Each project has to show a return on investment (ROI) in the near term. “At the end of the day, it’s all about aligning with the priorities of the business and ensuring that it is not your choice of projects to keep or throw but a decision jointly made with the rest of the business,” concludes Rowther.
1. Why have CIOs become important contributors to corporate strategies?
2. How might a CIO with a larger budget have an advantage over Sadiq Rowther at Johnson & Johnson Philippines?
Critical Thinking Questions
1. If you were CIO at Johnson & Johnson Philippines, how might you convince the corporation to invest in a project you designed?
2. Johnson & Johnson Philippines, like the country, is growing rapidly. What considerations should Rowther take into account when planning the information system budget for the next five years? What about considerations for current investments in information systems?