Avanade and Antares Capital: Cloud Computing and Managed Services in Financial Services
The CIO of Antares Capital, Mary Cecola, describes her strategic partnership in the cloud and digital transformation with managed services provider, Avanade? This experienced Chief Information Officer shares her secrets for a successful information technology partnership around digital business and enterprise software in the cloud.
Mary Cecola is Chief Information Officer of Antares Capital. Michael Krigsman is an industry analyst and host of CXOTALK.
CXOTALK is grateful to Avanade, the largest professional services firm supporting the Microsoft platform, for underwriting this episode.
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From the transcript:
What was the single most important trait or factor to contribute to vendor trust for you?
(35:09) And my answer is “delivery.” I mean, well, a couple things. When I have a vendor who can come in and deliver on their promises, that’s crucial to me. A vendor who’s transparent. So, consequently, there’s a problem with what they’re working on, they let me know. They let others come in and help ─ also really important. The worst thing is for a vendor to go off, have an issue, and let you know later. Ones that are very strong in the competencies they have. And then their ability to move resources out when they don’t work… Sometimes, resources aren’t working for talent, and sometimes its cultural fit. The ability to say, “This isn’t happening and get those changes very quickly,” is important to me. They have to be trusted advisors with me. And in some ways, the lead of these managed service providers that I’ve used; those people are on my team. They meet with my team, and they feel like a part of our organization. So, we don’t treat them like they are something different. But, those traits: really being good at what they say they’re good at; having transparency into what they’re doing ─ when they’re having issues, and what’s going well; and then also the ability to work with us on resources is key. You earn that trust, don’t you?
(37:11) Where does Avanade fit? There is also agile delivery and methodology involved.
(38:01) They were key with the network rollout and we had a couple good Avanade partners who were on the floor. When we talk about this network rollout ─ five cities in seven weeks, and some of these offices ─ two hundred desks. I mean, just unloading the boxes sometimes. We changed every technology component on the desktops in that transition. Just getting the equipment on the boxes, setting it up on the desktop, hooking it to the network. I loved when I was in Chicago and half the people we had here to do other things … So, I’ll come in the week and I’ll help you with that.” So, we had people of all different backgrounds helping us basically set up desktops, and those were our Avanade partners with us.
(39:23) On top of that, they really helped build up our relationship with Microsoft, making sure we were talking to the right people.
(39:29) Any time you’re doing this kind of project that you’ve described, which is so encompassing and especially on a very tight timeframe, it’s always fraught with complexity. And, it’s hard enough to do that if everybody works for you inside your organization and reports to you. So, in that relationship with Avanade, how did you manage all of these pieces? And how did you ensure that everybody was working on the same page and moving forward in just the right way since you’re dealing with multiple organizations?
(40:49) To your point, people don’t always want to tell you about the problems they’re having. We had a very open door about that. And it was more. Again, I bring up this transparency because what you’re talking about and the ability to do this type of work so quickly … If people don’t feel like a group can walk into your office and go, “Mary, we’ve got a problem!” You’re not going to get through it because these problems are going to linger in the background.
(41:26) You know, Avanade brought their management around that. I think I mentioned their senior person is one of my team and a partner to us. I think having … It was both the managed services working with them, but also having this very open mindset of problems are things to discover and solve, and not to worry about and hide.