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The business-critical shift from legacy IT to strategic IT

March 2014

Companies that want to succeed in the digital age need to take bold steps to reshape their IT infrastructure, says Philips’ Jeroen Tas.

For a video with English subtitles, please click on CC above or the appropriate subtitle icon during play.

Over the past three years as group CIO of lighting, consumer electronics and healthcare company Philips, Jeroen Tas has been on a mission: to put IT at the heart of the business. But that has required getting buy-in from the whole management team for a major renewal of its core business systems.

As he outlines in our exclusive video interview, IT needed to be elevated from a ‘keep-the-lights-on’ operation to a strategic function. “When I joined Philips, IT was in the basement [literally and metaphorically], keeping the systems running, but very far removed from the real strategy of the business. IT is an art where you’ve got to deal with the demands of every day but at the same time place it strategically at the heart of what the company is doing.”

So his task has been to ask — and answer — some fundamental questions: “What can IT do for the business? What can IT do to create better customer connections? What can IT do to get much better at making and getting product into the market?

But his ultimate goal of turning Philips into a “real-time, connected company” is not going to be achievable using its current legacy systems.Step change

“We wanted to move much more towards strategic investment [in IT] — investment in systems that really created a step change in the way we run our business,” says Tas, who since January has stepped into a new role leading a new digital division of Philips Healthcare focused on Informatics Solutions and Services. “Our current legacy landscape isn’t built for heavy customer interaction. It isn’t built for real-time decision making. It isn’t built to have a common view of how our business is running. So we have to change that — invest less in legacy and make the bets for the future.”

Given the digital transformation under way, it has been vital to build a much deeper dialog between IT and the rest of the business leadership team. “You cannot make that decision [to move from legacy to strategic IT] on your own as CIO. You have to engage with the leadership and the leadership needs to tell you, OK, this is part of our strategy, with the belief that although the transition will be tough, it will truly create a better company for the future.”

First published
March 2014
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About: Jeroen Tas
Group CIO at Philips for the past three years, Jeroen Tas took on a new challenge in January as CEO of company’s new Healthcare Informatics business — fulfilling a belief that CIOs are well-suited for wider business roles.

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