BASELINE/BTM 500: AT&T
A PHILOSO P
GOVERNANCE CAN BE SUMMED UP SIMPLY: MAKE IT PART OF THE BUSINESS PROCESS, NOT AN AFTERTHOUGHT. By Dennis McCafferty Strategy and Planning
THE AT&T PHILOSOPHY OF
version of a product like the iPhone is planned and discussed.
IT people are there when phone service departments are
trying to come up with better ways to reduce dropped calls.
They participate in analyzing the way consumers surf Websites.
They also interact with the sales staff at retail locations to see
whether there’s a quicker, easier or better way to bring consumers to the point of sale.
“At our retail centers, for example, we’ll have our IT staff
watching the interactions to get a sense of what the customers
are asking for and what they’d like to see,” Arroyo explains.
“Then they’re in on the planning to use available
resources to create an experience to match those
expectations. That way, they become part of the
“This approach has resulted in the installation
of kiosks at these retail locations to provide a
quicker way for customers to make payments or
process warranty returns.” These kiosks have had
a remarkable savings and revenue impact, taking in
1.7 million payments in a recent month. This enables
in-store reps to focus on sales instead of processing payments and handling administrative duties.
SINCE 1885, THE TWO T’S IN AT&T HAVE STOOD for “telephone” and “telegraph,” but those T’s have seemingly merged to become “telecommunications,”
representing the company’s involvement in every aspect
of modern telecom—from wireless devices to telephones,
Internet services and digital television.
These subsectors all move exceedingly fast, with consumer
preferences changing as quickly as the next app or gadget is
tweeted or blogged about. So, a great idea that takes years to
develop may very well be outdated months after it’s brought
To deal with this challenge, AT&T’s strategy is
to incorporate its nearly
30,000 IT employees
into every aspect of the business process in
order to make all aspects of the process move
more quickly and achieve the ultimate goal of
a successful product launch that brings home a
“We constantly stress that technology is there
for the sake of our business goals—as opposed to our
business existing for the sake of our technology,” says CIO
Thaddeus Arroyo. “If anyone in our company asks our top
executives what our IT resources are for, they will say that it’s all
about creating business velocity. We must use the technology to
transform our business processes in a way that creates market
offerings more quickly, allows us to better serve our customers
and delivers the ROI that justifies the investment.”
As diverse as its range of products and service lines is,
AT&T’s philosophy of IT governance can be summed up
simply: Make IT part of the business process, not an afterthought. As a result, strategic planning throughout the product
cycle is one of continual collaboration, with technology staffers
sitting in on business-focused conference calls as the next
FOCUSING ON RESULTS
Arroyo was named CIO in January 2007, after the finalization of the merger between AT&T, BellSouth and Cingular.
Previously, he had been CIO at Cingular Wireless. Since the
postmerger period has been further challenged by the recent
meltdown of the global economy, overseeing the direction of
new IT investments is a weighty responsibility for Arroyo, who
says AT&T remains results-focused.