Underwriters Laboratories CIO: How IT Drives Value Now

By:
01/26/2012
From the Road

Underwriters Laboratories, the product testing and certification company, has been ensuring safe products for more than a century. On January 1, the company transformed from a non-profit organization to a for-profit company in the United States, with a focus on delivering new products and services to its global customer base. I talked with CIO Christian Anschuetz about IT’s role in shaping and supporting this business change, why embracing consumer technology is critical to “amplify human ability” and how IT should be measured for its success in driving customer value and revenue.

anschuetz_christian-100342904-origIT Is a Means to an End

Anschuetz signed on with UL because he was attracted to its social mission. But he also admired the CEO’s vision: “he sees and understands that technology is not a means to its own end, but rather has the ability to change companies and industries,” Anschuetz said. The company’s strategy, as it relates to IT, is to capture and analyze information from business transactions, apply that information to create new value for customers and make sure the workforce has the skills and tools to do both.

End Users Need Options

Workers shouldn’t be hemmed in by technology they don’t have a say in choosing. “Insofar that we create applications, frameworks and interconnectedness amongst our many, many offices across the globe, we will allow our colleagues on their own to find new ways to work with one another to the great advantage of our customers,” Anschuetz said. There’s more to flexibility than letting employees choose their own mobile devices. UL is looking at ways to build more discretion into how employees use any technology, whether on the desktop at the office, at home, or as part of a workflow process.

Amazon Sets the Bar

UL’s customers are other businesses, not consumers. But employees of UL’s business customers “are increasingly bringing their B-to-C experiences into the workplace,” said Anschuetz. That makes Amazon “our metaphorical competition.”  UL’s services should be as easy to use as a consumer website. “Any company that can provide that superlative experience combined with absolutely exceptional services, which we already provide, is going to win the hearts and minds of the individuals within the manufacturers [we] service.”

Read the complete interview here.

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