I dropped pretty much everything on Wednesday morning, US Eastern Time, to follow the comet landing. Once the European Space Agency confirmed the Philae lander was in place, Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain praised the project team, as any leader should. This remark stood out: “The only way to reconcile risk and success is expertise.”
You know this. You put your best people on your toughest projects because their intelligence and experience are hedges against the possibility of failure. What about when it comes to training and development? Do you consider your investment in people as a way to mitigate risk? Have you ever talked about IT salaries and training and development budgets this way? Does it make sense to bring risk into the conversation about staffing?
Information Week’s Rob Preston takes issue with IDC’s prediction that by 2020, 60 percent of CIOs at global companies “for the delivery of IT-enabled products and digital services.” Rather, Preston offers, CIOs “who can’t cut it as digital innovators and customer pleasers” will be replaced by CIOs who can. “By 2020, chief digital officers will be yesterday’s fad.” What do you see happening? Is the rest of the C-Suite really that skeptical of CIOs? Do CDOs have a place, and if so, what is it?
Among its predictions for 2015, IDC says that within the next two years, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of strategies for competing globally will require IT-as-a-Service, and that 80 percent of CIOs will be accelerating their deployments of the 3rd Platform. These numbers suggest to me that most companies are past the point where decision-makers need to debate whether migration is necessary–that they’ve moved on to questions about how, and how quickly, to make it happen. What do you think? Are you still wrestling with whether IaaS is a strategic need? Or do you take it as given? What factors have influenced your position?
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?