I Wish More CIOs Were Like This... - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
6/6/2007
04:15 PM
Brian Gillooly
Brian Gillooly
Commentary
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I Wish More CIOs Were Like This...

...at least when it comes to candor. An online letter recently sent to US Airways frequent flyers explaining some of the IT-related problems customers have been experiencing since the merger with America West is chock-full of frank mea culpas that you don't see coming from many businesses these days, much less a major airline. It's clear in the letter that frustration over problems in integrating the two airlines' reservation systems is percolating, as CIO Joe Beery says he'd like "to be buried

...at least when it comes to candor. An online letter recently sent to US Airways frequent flyers explaining some of the IT-related problems customers have been experiencing since the merger with America West is chock-full of frank mea culpas that you don't see coming from many businesses these days, much less a major airline. It's clear in the letter that frustration over problems in integrating the two airlines' reservation systems is percolating, as CIO Joe Beery says he'd like "to be buried in a kiosk."Here's more from the letter written by US Airways VP of sales and marketing H. Travis Christ and recently sent to customers:

"We admit that some of these features [of the airline's upgraded Web site] are standard equipment on some other airline sites, but we started in a bit of hole at merger time and we?re quickly closing the gap. We intend to be fully caught up and more by?well, as soon as possible."

You don't hear that kind of candor these days about IT problems, especially ones that so directly impact customers. And, granted, the letter was written by the sales and marketing veep, but CIO Joe Beery is the one dealing directly with the issues.

Another admission from the letter regarding reports and functionality for employees:

"We didn?t adequately replicate some of the processes that many of our employees use to do their job every day."

Christ also offers an unadulterated apology to customers:

"You may be weary of us apologizing for the tough times we had this spring due to the migration of our reservations system, but here it is: We sincerely apologize for the numerous failures. After a pretty nice start to the merger we?ve learned some tough lessons through all this and received some very helpful advice from many of you, some of which we?re applying already and some of which is unprintable."

I do have to wonder what the upshot of all these glitches will be. I've seen previous situations where otherwise terrific CIOs properly take the blame for meltdowns that have occurred on their watch no matter the complexity or reason, and then, a month or two later the "leaving-to-pursue-other-interests" press release is issued. I hope that doesn't happen here. I've got an inquiry in to Joe and hope to report back.

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