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Changing Priorities of CIO’s During the Innovation Era

Michael Nikitin

CTO & Co-founder AIDA, CEO Itirra

Published on October 28, 2019

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the CIO & Technology Executive Summit organized by Madrona Venture Group. It was an excellent half-day event dedicated to changing priorities of CIO’s during the era of innovation and modernization.

How technology has been influencing the way we do business has been a hot topic for a while now. I have talked about the inevitability of going digital and the importance of data security and privacy during the digital transformation before. But now, I want to share why technological adeptness is no longer an option but rather a necessity for a modern business strategy.

Data Strategy, Security, and Privacy

One of the first speakers was Kathy Alexion, VP & CIO at Fred Hutchinson Research Center. Since joining the research center in 2016, Kathy has helped lead the push to use cloud technology through a digital transformation to accelerate finding cures for cancer and related diseases.

She shared her thoughts on developing the right strategy and how to protect valuable information while sharing your knowledge with others. By utilizing smart technology, minimizing costs where possible, and trying to be small agile and yet responsive, she has been able to make significant changes to the organization’s business strategy.

When it comes to protecting data, I realized that we share similar challenges. Whether these are scientific discoveries or technological developments, sharing our ideas and innovations with the world can be difficult.   

Research papers and publications can be extremely valuable as they are a result of extensive studies and experiments. Considering the sensitive nature of ongoing research, protecting these findings before publication is a must. Similarly, in the tech industry, we need to develop new technology solutions and keep our discoveries protected by securing patents.

As Kathy has mentioned, finding the right balance between sharing too little and too much is very important to any company, for- or non- profit. If you don’t share your findings, then no one will know about your work. But sharing too much can result in the loss of your discoveries or even worst. The key to this is a mature compliance program that handles the flow of information. It may be part of the CIO or CISO teams.

Lily Ley, VP & CIO at PACCAR, told us how CIOs and CTOs can find the balance Kathy mentioned. By planning and implementing enterprise solutions in support of business operations, Lily has been working on improving cost-effectiveness, service quality, business intelligence, and data governance.

No matter whether it is a startup or an enterprise, CIOs are responsible for finding the best solutions for their companies. With companies transforming towards digital, smart, and innovative, we need to find new strategies and approaches to business challenges. 

The Start-up Approach

Sunny Gupta, Co-founder & CEO at Apptio, successfully turned his company into a market leader and lead it to an IPO in under 10 years. His success lies in discovering and tapping into the unmet needs of CIOs for actionable data and insights. Even though the company is much larger now, he shared that they are still able to innovate well through a process called skunkworks.

Physically separating a small development team from the rest and giving them the freedom to come up with their solution allows them to be more innovative and agile without the restrictions of corporate bureaucracy.

A lot of brilliant thoughts and ideas were shared that morning. For me, as a co-founder of a startup, these events help to get a better understanding of the technological needs of enterprises. The better we understand them, the better solutions we can offer.