I think ultimately, it also goes to the evolution of IT, which we've seen many organizations move from seeing enterprise as a cost center model to more of a driver of digital collaboration and innovation. What's next on the horizon in terms of decentralization of the CIO function? You mentioned there's work left to be done there.
We're in varying degrees of maturity in that model. We did add a few leaders from outside of the firm who have brought a very exciting set of insights about how to accomplish what we’re doing. This was not a radical change, but we wanted to evolve, and we wanted them to be part of that.
We originally wanted about 70% of the investment we make in IT every year to be at least directly or indirectly instructed and overseen by the line of business leaders and their teams. We're not quite there yet, but that was an aspirational goal — and we’re going to hit it. We want to make sure the business has an ability to help instruct and direct talent, make technological investments, and form third-party partnerships.
In terms of working closer with the lines of business where you are offloading or sharing some of the responsibility and decision making, how does that ebb and flow inside of an evolving IT organization?
One challenge we have is how to maintain consistency in what we deliver and how we deliver it. We know that anytime you start to decentralize, people worry about loss of control, so we really focused on building up the muscle in our architecture practice to make sure that there is a level of consistency.
In addition to maintaining consistency, we’re also leaning towards bringing in people who understand the business domains, who understand how we add value to clients, how our competitors add value to clients. In terms of talent, one of the key things is finding people that understand the business very well, in addition to strong engineering and technical skills. Certainly, that blend of skills has been instrumental in helping to shape my current role. What I’ve done at Northern Trust is take a 19-year journey around almost every part of this business. I did get a feel for how we interacted with clients, how we drove client value, and therefore, how we drove shareholder value.
I know your responsibilities as CIO cast a wide net compared to the traditional role. Where does digital fit into the responsibilities you currently have?
We are completing a digital journey roadmap with our lines of businesses. Our business leaders are keenly aware of the opportunities in front of them and also aware of some challenges. Whether it's in our wealth management business or global asset servicing, we aim to provide a high level of service to our clients, and that drives discussions about how deeply intertwined those services can become with the IT function and how they can expand in ways that we have not thought of before.
In IT, we repeatedly ask ourselves, 'What do we need to be building?' And I think it's clear — our development environment needs to continue to evolve. The speed at which people want things delivered is different than 5 or 10 years ago.
Another element that factors into our strategy is that the total stack supporting our business is comprised of technologies from several eras. It's no secret — financial firms have been around a long time and have a lot of legacy technology in their shop. We need to continue the modernization effort there and are examining that intersection now. We’re looking for opportunities where there's a business case behind modernization.
I see some organizations taking a similar approach in their transformation strategy. But there's also a defensive play when it comes to older technologies and older platforms that are near the end of life. What's that balance here? Is it primarily strategic or opportunistic?
That’s a conundrum for a lot of senior technology people across industry sectors. It can be hard to execute in an environment that has become more complicated.