Kristin Lovejoy: Enabling innovation

IBM's VP of IT risk focuses on moving business projects forward with confidence (CSO Compass Awards 2012)

Imagine for a moment you work for one of the best-known companies in the world, one that made computers an essential part of business. Imagine this company, with more than half a million employees, had let each business unit create its own security systems as long as it followed certain guidelines. Now imagine it's time to replace that with an enterprisewide security architecture. Most people would reasonably imagine this to be a scary, overwhelming project.

The 2012 CSO Compass Award Honorees

This year's CSO Compass Award winners point the way toward risk management that's more inclusive — and more exact

Kristin Lovejoy, IBM's VP of IT risk, isn't most people.

"That much complexity creates more risk," says Lovejoy. "We had to do this in order to decrease risk throughout the organization, even though it meant replacing solutions that may have worked perfectly well for a particular unit." Before she could do that, she had to transform the IT risk function at IBM. When she was named to her post in 2010, IT risk was focused on security, business continuity and disaster recovery. Its priorities were mostly driven by compliance or crisis mitigation. "We were sort of the department of 'no,'" she says. "We were always telling people why they couldn't do things." Lovejoy, with the support of then-CIO Pat Toole and his successor Jeanette Horan, knew that had to change. The department had to become one that enabled business innovation, not blocked it. "Instead of focusing on defense, let's think about business transformation and processes," says Lovejoy. "Our job is to think through the worst possible scenarios and create plans to overcome them so projects can move ahead."

One example of that can be seen in how IBM has responded to the challenge of employees using their personal devices for work. By setting the IT risk department up to find solutions, not veto plans, IBM was able to securely move ahead with many new initiatives, including a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy. Lovejoy, who had previously been vice president of security strategy at IBM, says that instead of waiting until BYOD was planned out, she and her team got involved at the start. In fact, her department helped create the business case for letting employees do this. By the end of the first year, the initiative was supporting 100,000 devices. This allowed employees to use social media to further IBM's business agenda, and to adopt cloud computing on a wide scale.

To change the culture of IT risk, Lovejoy restructured it around a new model. At the heart of that model is the IT Risk Map, which is reassessed quarterly and considers:

  • Security and privacy
  • IT compliance
  • Supply chain risk
  • Geopolitical issues
  • Product assurance
  • Business transformation

This last item looks at what emerging technologies or technology-enabled business constructs IBM will need to adopt and then plots out both a time line for adoption and assesses what would happen if it wasn't adopted. "We're making the 180 degree change—from focusing on compliance to empowering the business to enable innovation with confidence," she says.

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