The Next Big Question

Episode 25
Hosted by: Liz Ramey

Bernard Mikael

Chief Information & Transformation Officer


Bernard Mikael joined EY more than ten years ago, where he is working today as chief information and transformation officer. Prior to that, he held roles at Accenture and HP.

Why Should Organizations Integrate Tech Teams Across the Enterprise?

SEPTEMBER 12, 2023

In the first episode in our 2023 podcast series, Bernard focuses on integrating technology teams across the business. He discusses why a “real, modern partnership” between IT and the business is necessary for true transformation, and he shares why transformation is more than having good technology alone. Bernard also talks about three, multidimensional changes that an organization must take to truly position themselves for innovation and digital.


Liz Ramey [00:12] Welcome to The Next Big Question, a podcast with senior business leaders sharing their vision for tomorrow, brought to you by Evanta, a Gartner Company. Each episode features a question with C-suite executives about the future of their roles, organizations and industries. Thanks for listening. I'm your host, Liz Ramey. Now let's hear what today's next big question is. 

In this episode, I speak with Bernard Mikael, the CIO and Chief Transformation Officer with EY. Today, I asked Bernard the question, “Why should organizations fully integrate their tech teams across the enterprise?” With a background in engineering and consulting, Bernard shares his experience in transforming the organization, shifting mindsets in how IT and the business view technology and innovation. Bernard Mikael, thank you for joining The Next Big Question. 

Bernard Mikael [01:10] Thank you, Liz, for inviting me. 

Liz Ramey [01:12] I'm excited to jump in and talk to you about this topic of fully integrating tech teams. I read a blog of yours that you published just a couple of months ago, and you talked about this three-multidimensional changes that an org must take to truly position themselves for innovation and digital. These were broken down. These three were -- change the perception of IT, two, connect to the business, and then three, think global, act local. Can you kind of break those down for us and tell us a little more? 

Bernard Mikael [01:46] So, yeah, I saw when I started my life. I think it was on the edge of CIO 1.0 to 2.0. I saw CIO initially as like, providing what was IT at the time. Providing PCs, providing basic infrastructure for the enterprise, where the IT was mostly about cost and facilities. So, this is for me the genesis of the I think the IT in the enterprise. Then, when I started really my work, my first experience was with HP, Hewlett Packard, where we started to implement really information system. With IBM as a competitor at the time, but with HP for me, where I think the IT started to be a real department providing solutions, not only facilities. It was still perceived as a cost center. We provide solutions, but we are still a cost center. 

And then, this is our current era, what I call CIO 3.0. And I think many companies didn't yet step in, where we are providing the best answers to business concerns and not solutions. As a trusted technology advisor or partner of the business, debating the investment across the back-end services. And we are even debating how to stabilize the margin or how to improve the margin of the of the company by doing IT. Innovating, transforming to improve the margin, to improve the productivity of the firm. This is what I call the IT or the CIO 3.0. We are not executing all solutions. We are on the upstream discussing - let's see how we improve our productivity. Let's see what could be a good solution for your clients or for internal use and so on and so on. This is about a dynamic team working -- and not working -- partnering with the business from upstream since the ideation down to execution and the run of the IT solutions. 

Liz Ramey [00:04:46] It just seems like a shift to not just thinking about the teams integrating into the business, but a shift in the mindset of the teams to know -- they're not trying to solve a technology problem, they're trying to solve a business problem. 

Bernard Mikael [00:05:02] It is mainly about business, and this requires a real shift in mentality. And this is when you talk about transformation and the image of IT. And this is something I think should be operated by CIOs themselves. In my company today, I or we put like a separation between the IT and technology. We all agree that IT and technology is the same. But talking about IT also shifting or separating the traditional IT, like support, like basic equipment for any user, and technology. Let's talk solutions. Let's talk about how to improve our business by innovation and the transformation. 

So, this is where the shift is happening, and this is where the transformation of the mentalities is happening. It's not about two teams, but in the facade, in the in the first layer, the business can see two, different actors or partners for the business. And this is about even a transformation in the way we are talking to the business, the way we are serving the business also. 

Liz Ramey [00:06:33] So, talk to me a little bit about where you think the enterprise or other enterprises are missing the mark today. Do they, is there still this view that IT is a support function in many enterprises that that you see at least over in kind of EMEA and whatnot? And how -- like what sort of value are they missing by viewing it that way? 

Bernard Mikael [00:07:02] I would say we have a good level of maturity today. We are never perfect. Otherwise, it would be very annoying. But, we have a good level of maturity where we are receiving the clients of EY. You know at EY we have the technology consulting also practice. So, we are receiving our clients and using EYI as a reference for benchmark, or at least to compare to, some kind of reference. So just discussing it a lot with the CIOs, CEOs, C-level, and you can easily see where some big organizations are not yet stepping in or not seeing the value of what IT or technology can provide. It is so easy today, in the era of disruption we are having, to go and buy IT. You can buy anything with the cloud computing, SAAS, etc. I mean, you can only take your credit card and buy whatever. So, you think you are active in the innovation, and any business today is buying or acting in this innovation. 

But innovation is not about buying technology -- there is a huge difference. Innovation is only… or the technology, sorry, is only a layer, the below layer of the transformation and the innovation. The innovation is how to sit together in business, the expertise or the business, and IT. The IT only or the technology to see what is possible or what good technology to use or to facilitate or to enable the ideation. So, that is different level. So, we can see clients that think that they are in the era of innovation transformation because they have good technologies. But are they really transforming themselves? Not always. We are still meeting clients that are considering technology as a facilities or only support because they think that their business is not ready enough or they don't really need innovation. But what they are missing, the value they are missing, we are always taking the example of Kodak. Let's try something else with the transformation. We are certainly missing something if we cannot embrace the change, if we are not embracing the internal transformation, and I cannot see how technology cannot bring at least improvement to the productivity of any company. And when I say this it’s because this is what we are seeing every day with all the industries working with EY. 

Liz Ramey [00:10:50] Yeah, it's beyond the technology. It's, you know, like you said, even if we look at improving efficiencies, you can't just plug in a piece of technology and hope that it creates efficiencies. The processes also have to be changed in order for that for workers to adopt the technology. And then, you'll see that efficiency bring up. So, it's a people and the process behind that technology as well. 

Bernard Mikael [00:11:17] Indeed, if the technology is not under control or not used in a good way, it could be a bad disruption. It's about a full transformation. Again, technology is only the lower layer of the transformation. Why I'm saying we need to partner because the business ignore what are the different technology, ignore the physical or lower layer, what is technology? But if we put these two layers together, the business layer and the technology layer together, and this is where I operated, in fact. This is how we can take the best of both, how this is IT can enable the innovation for the business using the best technology and by executing on a full transformation and mainly in the business transformation process. 

Liz Ramey [00:12:24] So, should IT be organized in a certain way for enterprises to get the value that you're talking about? Are there other kind of levers or factors that could be taking shape that would benefit in the transition? 

Bernard Mikael [00:12:38] Oh, yes. In fact, IT is much more than the organization. You should be ready to support your business. Let me tell you how I started. And again, I'm not saying I'm the reference here or EY was the reference, but this is the example I executed on. I started engaging together with the business. We engage a team, a short team of five people. The role of this team was just to sit with the business, to observe, to create circles of discussions, to do some trainings on technology, to enable innovation, technology, transformation, what is possible, what is not possible. It started this way. And they started to observe, to work on different layers, to observe how they are producing, how the business, like audit business, how they are producing their report, how they are creating their report, they are executing on that business every day. So, just observe. And then, to see what are the processes that could be improved. 

And then, on different level also what are the best product or tools we can provide for them? And then we started to, I mean, the business started to see the value. Oh yeah, we improved the process. If you gain like 10% over 5,000 auditors, it's a lot of time already. So, and this team started to grow. Today we are many, many tens of enablers, so we changed the name to business technology -- and again, business technology. In the subconscious, we are putting together business and technology. So, we started a mixed team with dual reporting hierarchy between IT and the business to support the business in – one, improving the productivity, internal productivity of what we call service lines. And second, to support the business in creating new tools and new solutions for our clients. And this is where we grow today and to continue the hope to say that this shift or this split, I would say between what I call ‘technology’ and ‘IT,’ we also work on how to improve the traditional IT support. Even we work in this to avoid mixing the topics. I don't want to pollute the discussions. When we talk innovation, I don't want to hear, ‘I have an issue with my PC,’ ‘my phone blew up.’ So we improved even the support, traditional support. And when I hear today during a innovation sessions, I have an issue was my whatever equipment – okay, go to what we call the technology lobby. Go and see the tech lobby. It would be resolved for sure in a very good way and quick way. Let's focus on innovation. So, the split is even here in both sides to ensure that we are still engaging the business in a positive way. 

Liz Ramey [00:16:50] We spoke before, and actually at the beginning you were talking a bit about CIO 2.0 or 3.0, and you are kind of in this midst of migrating to 3.0 right now. What does that exactly mean to you? What does it mean to the enterprise? And then, how do you think that other orgs will evolve and operate in that sort of capacity in the future. 

Bernard Mikael [00:17:17] I see that the acceleration of the innovation, the speed of disruption are hard to comprehend or anticipate for many, many businesses. And these changes are a source of constant surprise for many businesses. So, they are looking to the introduction of new technologies that are creating a new way of working, disrupting, so disrupting the way they produce. So, there is a lot of apprehension on this way. So, the disruption has happened. There is a culture of disruption. The new generation coming to the market, the millennial, the technology is evolving at a very high speed. So, all this should be well apprehended and prepared. 

The market has no solution or way but to adapt to these changes. And it’s better to be prepared for the change rather than suffer from the change. And this will make the difference between mature or less mature companies or businesses. A very good understanding of the business is a mandatory topic. We should not stay sitting behind our screen, operating on our infrastructure and saying, ‘We are providing service.’ This is not true. During the transformation, supposed to go to the business, understand the business and do the executing on the transformation together. So, this is where, and we can see it honestly, with the major clients we are supporting, a lot of these transformations are on their way. They are engaged. Of course, the level of maturity is different from many industries. But so it is engaged. But if I have only one word to say on that -- the business cannot engage the transformation alone, and the IT cannot engage the transformation of the business alone. It's a real modern partnership, going for one team at the end. 

Liz Ramey [00:20:19] It sounds like there's not only just a partnership, but there's a lot of accountability among teams that has to be set in order for everybody to really buy into the idea and have that mindset shift that you were talking about earlier. 

Bernard Mikael [00:20:36] Absolutely. Absolutely. This is why I said this is even more than a partnership. Partnership supposed to have still two partners. I even go more in depth, I think. It happened only this morning. We've been having a meeting with one of our businesses, where I have three persons reporting to me in this meeting. But they are working in the business in the service lines. So it's more than a partnership. So, I'm taking engagement on business activity or decisions. They are taking also actions or decisions on technology topics. So, it's really more than a partnership -- we are working simply as one team somehow. To provide this required a change. 

Liz Ramey [00:21:39] Well, that's great. Well, Bernard, it was so fun to talk to you about that. Before we leave, I have two questions for you since the podcast is called The Next Big Question. So, I spoke actually last year. You're my first podcast of 2023. Last year, I spoke with Deborah Wheeler, and she's the CISO at Delta Airlines, and I asked her what her next big question was that I could pose to my next guest. So, she asked, ‘What do you think the relevance of the metaverse is going to be on our society going forward?’ 

Bernard Mikael [00:22:15] Well, very good question. Being skeptical is not a good message. So, I think that metaverse is currently disrupting the way we are or will be collaborating. We are having probably a generational and an old cultural topic here. I cannot see my CEO putting these big glasses or working on a full metaverse environment, having an avatar, and so on and so on. However, this is why I don't want to be skeptical because this is only the beginning of a big change, I think, in the way we may operate some business. I think we are in the beginning of something new, new technology. They will be feeling tentative, I think, maybe as with any innovation. But I think we will converge at the end to something new, a new way of collaborating all over the world. 

Liz Ramey [00:23:35] Well, what about you? So, I have a guest. They will be C-level, but I can't tell you what their title is or what company, because I don't want that to skew your question. So, you as a C-level executive, what do you think the next big question is that organizations or C-level executives should be asking? 

Bernard Mikael [00:23:58] Well, okay. Mrs. or Mr. X, my question to you is, on which table are you sitting or your correlation is sitting on the innovation and transformation journey of your company? Are you sitting on the ideation since the ideation and innovation with the business, or are you sitting on the executing phase of the of the transformation? 

Liz Ramey [00:24:32] Perfect. Well, Bernard, thank you so much for connecting with me and sharing your story and being on The Next Big Question. 

Bernard Mikael [00:24:40] Thank you very much, Liz, for this opportunity. 

Liz Ramey [00:24:44] Thank you, again, for listening to The Next Big Question. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen. Rate and review the show so that we can continue to grow and improve. You can also visit to explore more content and learn about how your peers are tackling questions and challenges every day. Connect, learn and grow with Evanta, a Gartner Company.