CIO.com blogger and executive recruiter Martha Heller talks to Kathy Kountze-Tatum, CIO with Northeast Utilities, about her approach to transforming IT from order-taker to strategic contributor. Kountze-Tatum’s team is at a transition point: having outsourced many non-core operations and restructured the IT organization, it’s time to set new priorities. To do so, Kountze-Tatum is holding an IT strategy meeting where she is asking her team members new questions.
“When I ask,’ how does this technology solution support our Customer Care organization?’ if I get silence, then I know that I have more work to do to get us to operate at a strategic level,” Kountze-Tatum says. What types of questions do you push your team to answer, in order to keep them focused on business goals?
Google CIO Ben Fried makes the case, in this Wall Street Journal Interview, that your decisions about technology shape the corporate culture. Let employees make choices about the tools they use, and you can create a work environment where people not only feel empowered, but they’re more likely to collaborate. “So much of the culture stems from how we work,” Fried says. “So when CIOs narrow technology choices they actually are setting a culture that is patriarchal and rigid.”
Do you agree? What are some examples of IT decisions that have affected your corporate culture, for better or for worse?
As a follow up to my post about breaking down data silos, here’s an interview that EMC published yesterday with Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz that relates to this topic. He’s talking about the concept of a “Data Lake,” a repository for vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, and a platform for analyzing it. “You can gather data of potential interest without having to know its uses,” he says. Business users gain more flexibility to tap data when they need it, and define it as they go.
The interview suggests businesses will devise new, more dynamic and perhaps more collaborative ways to govern business data than is typical for structured data in a data warehouse. As you delve into big data analytics, what are some steps you have taken to adapt your data management practices, so business users have ready access to all the data they need?
Director and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam talked to Wired magazine about his recent film, The Zero Theorem, which features a reclusive computer genius who is searching for the meaning of life. Gilliam says he made the movie in part to highlight what disturbs him about our constantly connected culture. CIOs and other business leaders may find food for thought there about the potential downsides of big data. But what Gilliam says about the challenges he faces to reach viewers sounds similar to the struggles of any IT organization that is trying to develop more effective partnerships with marketing:
“I don’t really know how to think of an audience, because there are a million different audiences out there,” Gilliam says. “It’s more, how do you get the people that might like what you do—and they’re not always fans yet—how do you get their attention?”
It’s not just a question for filmmakers on a small budget. What role do CIOs have helping CMOs define and reach out to customers (without intruding on their privacy).
Gartner’s annual CIO survey finds CIOs in the midst of changing their MO. Three-fourths say that in the next three years, they’ll alter their leadership approach from “control first” to “vision first” in order to meet the demands of digital business (73 percent say they’ve been working on this for three years already). That makes sense: when your environment is evolving rapidly, you need to help your team and your colleagues figure out where they need to be going. What you control now may not even be relevant in the future.
Do you agree? What does it mean to lead with vision, instead of control? How do you engage people differently?
Recent research by EMC in Asia found that among people aged 15-24, most expect to use their personal devices for work. But attitudes among employees differ from region to region; in some places, workers think companies should provide all their equipment. During a discussion last month at the CIO Summit in Singapore, global IT leaders said any mobile device policy has to take into account what employees in various locales expect. Employees’ roles are important, too, as well as the infrastructure that each country has in place.
Do your company’s employees use their personal devices on the job? What criteria do you use to determine whether to allow it? How do you manage the complexity of different policies for different regions?
If you want to be competitive, you have to stop thinking of your IT staff an expense, and start treating it as an asset. That’s the message in this post by Frank Wander, a former CIO who is now the CEO of a talent management firm. Wander thinks CIOs have undervalued workers with lots of experience. And he’s alarmed that “leaders know more about their processes and technology than their people.”
Wander points to a management mindset with roots in the industrial age, when labor became commodified–and, he observes, dehumanized. Time to change that. IT pros are craftspeople. Their minds are not interchangeable parts. Successful companies will “develop deep expertise on how to unlock the full potential of the workforce,” he says. But how do you do it? What has to change in the way you hire, manage, train, evaluate and reward workers in order to transform the IT culture and raise the value of individuals’ talent?
As CIO at a Fortune 500 technology company, I have a fascinating vantage point with respect to total customer experience (TCE). We not only embrace the latest technologies to provide our internal users with an agile, analytical, productive and value-driven experience, but we also share what we learn here with you – our customers – to enhance your overall experience with EMC products and services.
Having met EMC customers one-on-one or during our various global CIO Summits and EMC Forums, there was one theme that continually resonated – we are all in this together. Sure, we are always happy to share our perspective if it helps you. However, this is not a one-sided relationship.
As CIO, I always look forward to networking and engaging with my peers because our total customer experience is strongly influenced by your insight, experience and best practices. This perspective and partnership enables us to better understand your strategy and offer solutions – not point products – to help you pursue opportunities on the horizon, overcome hurdles encountered along the way, and to ultimately unleash a competitive advantage.
TCE is a core value for every EMC employee and the engine behind our culture and how we deliver products and services from beginning to end. It is essential as we design, build and rollout new contemporary, agile and innovative services for our users. Equally important, it is how we continually strengthen our partnership with you – our customers.
Learn more about EMC’s Total Customer Experience Program and how we are celebrating our commitment to customers on October 7th.
I’m getting reports about the discussions at the EMC Federation CIO Summit in Singapore last weekend. Among them: a conversation between RSA’s Vincent Goh and James Turner, an information security and risk analyst with Australia-based IBRS. Turner suggested that one of the big challenges that CSOs have is explaining to business leaders that security is about protecting business assets, not IT assets. “When it comes to determining what’s an appropriate control, that’s a business conversation,” he says. And, just as with any measure of IT performance, KPIs for security ought to reflect what matters for the business.
I wonder if we can build a list of business-focused goals for information security. What would you suggest? How would you measure performance?
Every CIO inherits a legacy, and then goes about creating one for his or her successor, notes InformationWeek’s Andrew Conry Murray. He interviews Ben Haines, the CIO at Box, and formerly at Pabst Brewing, about his experiences transforming Pabst into a “cloud-centric” company and then moving to cloud-based Box. One key question he advises CIOs ask themselves: “Will your own legacy support the vision of the company after you’ve moved on?”
As you make IT investments and engage in business transformation, what legacy are you building?