IBM Identifies What Great Executives Do

According to IBM, there are three very different types of C-suite executives. In a report presented at IEF 2018, they laid out the differences. They call the classes the reinventors, the practitioners, and the aspirationals. And the first thing to know about these classes is that the reinventors are the leaders. They outperform their peers both financially and in terms of innovation. [Read more…]

The Art of the Possible: Be the People’s Champion

People are at the heart of all innovation. And people have always used technology as a tool to get ahead in their work and increasingly, their social lives. As the business world embraces the online, digital landscape, it also becomes more human. To ensure that new technology will be eagerly adopted and, more importantly, widely used, the CIO can make a bigger impact if they become the People’s Champion in all things related to technology.

Cloud computing, mobile computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the technology landscape. As Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare, states, “Cloud is supercomputing power at unlimited scale. Mobile is unlimited reach. IoT is unlimited access. AI is unrivaled intelligence. It’s the cascading effect of those four things coming together at this point in time that’s ushering in the fastest piece of technical evolution that’s ever occurred in the history of mankind.” As the People’s Champion, the CIO can meet these challenges more effectively.

An important aspect of the CIO role is to be a change management leader. By assuming this responsibility, the CIO can transform an entire organization. They need to reduce friction, create an environment for innovation, and make sure that customers and employees have the applications and resources that help them be as productive as possible.

Here are five key ways that CIOs can be change management leaders:

  • Devote more time to customer-facing activities. A recent report indicates that improving customer experiences is currently the top business driver for IT investments, yet only 32% of enterprise CIOs frequently meet their customers.
  • Push for customer-impacting innovations. Deloitte’s global CIO survey showed that 57% of CIOs chose “customers” as their top business priority, yet only 45% believed that their IT organizations used technology to improve the customer experience.
  • Support and nurture agile leaders in IT. An established process for innovation attracts and inspires effective people, and empowered leaders in IT can implement the technology changes that will keep the organization nimble, safe, and efficient.
  • Embrace the cloud. Cloud-based platforms, development tools, and infrastructure are critical for IT organizations to be quick and responsive. In addition, since CIOs spend 72% of their budgets on existing IT, compared to 28% on new projects, removing legacy hardware would generate significant cost savings.
  • Drive integration of digital technology in all business areas. According to Forrester Research, executives predict that by 2020, nearly half of all revenue will be digitally-driven. This is not limited to retail and consumer goods: industrial components and machines are increasingly digitized as well.

If people come first, products, and profits will follow. Without adoption, personalization, and exceptional user experience, technology is just hardware. But with people, technology becomes more than the sum of its wires and circuits. Pat Gelsinger of VMWare puts it best: “We want to embed just a little bit of the IT manager directly into each piece of silicon we develop and ship into the marketplace.” This combination of people and technology allows users to develop even more innovative ideas that will allow an organization to grow and evolve. By leading change, the CIO—the People’s Champion—can safeguard an organization’s future.

The Art of the Possible: Be the Security Mentor

The IT world is changing. It’s no longer enough to build firewalls against known threats. Now the CIO must anticipate how these threats will evolve in the future. Cloud computing is becoming the norm, while online threats are growing. The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices have now taken hold in the office. These developments place many demands on the CIO, who is required to:

  • protect against attacks while ensuring a seamless user experience
  • maintain control over data while enabling unconstrained access to and from the internet
  • always guarantee full network availability

Balancing these competing—and paradoxical—priorities is a challenge in many organizations. By assuming the role of Security Mentor, CIOs can address these critical issues:

How does IT balance business needs with the need for security?

According to a recent global survey, most IT security measures affected productivity negatively. To resolve this issue, controls should be put in place to protect critical data. Employees should also be given training on how to keep information secure. These controls will not be successful if they impact workflow and efficiency. As Security Mentor, the CIO balances digital innovation against essential security processes.

How do organizations keep applications secure?

Reports that the US military had experienced a cybersecurity breach surfaced this year. The popular fitness app Strava publishes GPS location data taken from fitness trackers. Heat maps showing fitness activity revealed details about overseas military bases. The default app setting was for GPS data to be shared anonymously.

Joey Peloquin is the director of cloud security operations for Citrix. He offers these tips to help developers address application security:

  • Make security an integral part of application design. Use threat modeling to design software that’s secure from the outset. Use the talents of your IT security team by challenging them to break the app.
  • Never hardcode passwords into an application. Provide single sign-on and multifactor authentication. Encrypt sensitive data using industry-standard strong encryption.
  • Make security user-friendly. Consider eliminating rules about password complexity and rotation. Instead, use an interface that guides users to create an appropriately long password. Install a password manager to help users choose complex passwords.

Above all, says Peloquin, users should be encouraged to “vigorously defend … privacy when [they’re] outside of the enterprise.” The CIO can balance the needs of developers and users when designing applications.

How can organizations secure supply chains in a digital environment?

Complex supply chains cross many international borders. As a result, companies must exchange sensitive information with multiple partners. Information-sharing is necessary, but it also increases security risks. According to Chris Mayers, chief security architect at Citrix, the supply chain is the weakest link for many organizations.

In addition, businesses must perform due diligence when adding providers to supply chains. Still, many vulnerabilities remain. A recent U.K. survey showed that only 35% of IT security audits were “very comprehensive.” Also, half of these organizations experienced data breaches in the previous quarter. The CIO can work with IT to perform comprehensive security audits for every partner. Results should then be actioned appropriately.

The Security Mentor is an advisor, a leader, and an advocate. They work with all stakeholders: management, IT professionals, and customers. In this way, they can lead their organization past technology and security challenges.