When he’s not immersed in cybersecurity, hybrid cloud strategy, or app modernization, David Reis, CIO at the University of Miami Health System and the Miller School of Medicine, spends his time working with the board of directors and top leadership to reimagine healthcare and take the lead driving digital transformation.

A business objective to “arrive” more patients per hour or the CEO’s desire to leverage historical data to predict future patient volume and revenue doesn’t start with a technology discussion or spoon-feed IT a particular business strategy to execute. Today, Reis and his team are early-stage partners with the business to ideate new digital strategies aimed at keeping the healthcare provider at the forefront of patient experience and care, safety, and innovation.

“In these discussions, we didn’t talk about phones, infrastructure, servers, computers, or storage — all the things people expect with IT,” Reis says. “IT is now thought of as a partner and brought in much sooner in the overall rethinking of business processes rather than coming in at the end to digitize workflows.”

David Reis, CIO, University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine

University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine

Despite another year dominated by a transformation agenda and getting digital operations in order, CIOs like Reis are finding their footing as an invaluable strategic partner and resource for the business. According to the 2023 State of the CIO research, which surveyed 837 IT leaders and 201 line of business (LOB) participants, functional and transformational work consumed the bulk of IT leaders’ time this year, much the same as 2022.

Eighty-four percent of respondents were immersed in basic functional tasks such as security management (47%), improving IT operations and systems performance (40%), and cost control and expense management (28%). IT leaders were equally committed to transformation work (83%), including modernizing infrastructure and applications (35%), aligning IT initiatives with business goals (38%), cultivating the IT/business partnership (31%), and directing change efforts (28%).

Foundry / CIO.com

While far fewer (61%) cited business strategist responsibilities as the year’s primary charter, many, like Reis, are already well-established and sought-after strategy leaders, continuing to mature their influence going forward. At the same time, the majority of 2023 State of the CIO respondents (71%) also anticipate greater immersion in business strategy over the next three years. With technology at the epicenter of all aspects of modern business, IT leaders fully expect their remit to include actively driving business innovation, developing and refining business strategy, and identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation.

Kevin Gray, CIO, City of Burbank, Calif.

City of Burbank, Calif.

“The CIO role today is really a business leadership role that is not necessarily focused on technology — technology is just part and parcel of what we do every day,” says Kevin Gray, CIO for the City of Burbank, Calif. “We are helping form strategy for our organizations, laying out roadmaps, and developing policy in ways we didn’t in the past. A CIO or CTO who wakes up thinking about technology is thinking about the wrong things.”

Foundry / CIO.com

CIOs’ leadership stature matures

This year’s focus on IT transformation and modernization hasn’t diluted demand for CIO leadership. More than half of respondents to the 2023 State of the CIO survey (55%) said they proactively identify business opportunities and make recommendations regarding technology and provider selections while 23% said they advise on business need, technology choices, and providers.

As in prior years, the CIO role continues to be more digital- and innovation-focused — a trend cited by 85% of IT leaders participating in this year’s survey. Not only are CIOs involved in digital transformation — the majority of 2023 survey respondents maintain CIOs are more likely to lead digital transformation efforts compared to their business leader counterparts — a scenario cited by 84% of IT leaders along with nearly three quarters (72%) of LOB participants.

Foundry / CIO.com

CIOs’ mounting credibility as a lever for business transformation is also being recognized on a broader scale, even as IT leaders are wrapped up with modernization efforts and operationalizing the technology investments that were accelerated these past few years. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they view the CIO role as a changemaker, slightly higher than last year.


of CIOs agree that the CIO is becoming a changemaker, increasingly leading business and technology initiatives

At the same time, CIOs continue to forge strong relationships with other influencers in the executive ranks: Seventy-seven percent of 2023 State of the CIO respondents have cultivated a strong educational partnership with the CEO and board of directors. Nearly half (49%) of IT leaders participating in this year’s research report directly to the CEO, and CIOs themselves have retained oversight of some of the newer C-level positions. For example, among the 2023 State of the CIO survey base, many chief data officers (53%) and chief digital officers (42%) now come under the CIO management umbrella. Chief security officers and chief analytics officers are also more likely to report into IT leadership.

Foundry / CIO.com

In a similar vein, IT retains direct control over a good portion of the IT budget at most companies — on average, around 43.5% — with respondents expecting that ratio to tick up to about 50% over the next three years. In keeping with the reporting structures, CIOs are commanding oversight of budgets allocated to some of the newer executive titles: Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said the CTO budget was factored into overall technology expenditures under CIO management while half said the same of the chief digital officer budget. A much higher number, 63%, confirmed chief data officer expenses came under the CIO and IT department’s remit.

While CIO’s leadership stature and immersion in the business has been steadily growing for some time, ongoing economic uncertainty, the vast potential of emerging technologies to transform business, and the lingering halo effects from CIOs’ widely heralded pandemic performance have underscored the significance of the role when it comes to business strategy. Specifically, the level of transformation during the pandemic was unrivaled compared to prior periods, and the business strategies and foundational platforms put in place call for IT leadership to promote broad adoption and oversee continuous care and feeding, says JP Saini, chief digital & technology officer at Sunbelt Rentals, a global player in the equipment rental market.

JP Saini, chief digital and technology officer, Sunbelt Rentals

Sunbelt Rentals

“It’s about how to maintain the edge we created with the business strategies we implemented,” Saini says. “Unlike prior years, where you launch something big and the next refresh cycle is three to four years out, there’s now a continued value creation formula for digital transformation that happens year over year.”

What’s on the 2023 docket

Sunbelt Rentals’ 2023 roadmap calls for evolving its digital platforms in areas such as omnichannel ecommerce, dynamic pricing, service, supply chain, and warehouse management. The company is also investing in new collaboration technologies and Zero Trust initiatives to fully empower its employees for hybrid work, no matter where they are and on whatever device they are working from, Saini says.

The digital transformation and technology organizations used to operate on two parallel tracks. Today, they’ve been consolidated into a single group reporting to Saini to accelerate delivery of systems that drive business strategy forward. “We’re now one group that handles initiatives from start to finish because time was of the essence,” he explains. “Whatever launches in terms of ecommerce, if you don’t have a good roadmap to keep ahead of competitors, the value is eroded.”

At insurance company The Hartford, the technology initiatives and business strategies that are on tap for 2023 are one and the same, according to Deepa Soni, the company’s CIO. Cloud deployment, AI, analytics, a modern data ecosystem, and digitization of more business processes are at the top of the agenda to simplify interactions for customers, brokers, and agents and to bring the power of digital tools to employees. For example, underwriters used to toggle between nearly a dozen tools to get their job done — today they use one streamlined tool with all relevant information at their fingertips to make better decisions while understanding risks, Soni says.

Deepa Soni, CIO, The Hartford

The Hartford

With new technologies poised to reinvent business processes and disrupt entire markets, Soni says she and her CIO counterparts must play a pivotal role guiding the business to think about things differently while recognizing opportunities to harness technology to create solutions for business partners, customers, and employees. One of the more significant changes at The Hartford has been to embrace agile practices, not just in the IT domain, but as a companywide business practice. “We’re now organized around customer-centric value streams that start with the product owners in the business and extend into technology,” she explains. “The opportunity to leverage data and technology is increasing so we have to deliver capabilities faster to be able to better capitalize on future opportunities.”

Leveraging data, advanced analytics, and AI is top priority across the board. Thirty-four percent of IT leaders responding to the 2023 State of the CIO survey called out data/business analytics as a major tech initiative driving IT investments, second only to security and risk management (38%). Machine learning and AI were also high on the list, cited by 26%.

Foundry / CIO.com

With data and analytics a critical engine for driving business strategy, Dow Inc. combined its data and analytics teams into one group last year, elevating a new dedicated leadership role. Chris Bruman, Dow’s first chief data and analytics officer, reports directly into Melanie Kalmar, a corporate vice president and Dow’s CIO and chief digital officer.

Chris Bruman, chief data and analytics officer, Dow


In his dual role, Bruman leads a centralized data and analytics team, but also has accountability for building a data and analytics strategy for the entire enterprise, to both enable growth and empower productivity. On his watch, Dow has updated its data operating model to a hub and spoke approach, is setting up a data platform and data catalog that can support the entire enterprise, and expanded the data initiative to harness both structured and unstructured data. Bruman’s group has also invested time and resources in data literacy, launching a companywide program to upskill the enterprise in the language of data and how to take advantage of data and analytics.

“Because analytics are so much more important in how we do work every day, we don’t believe a fully centralized team can keep up with the demand,” he explains. With the federated or hub and spoke approach, the power of leveraging analytics rests in the business functions. “It’s about data democratization and empowering the spokes to do more on their own,” he says.

The CIO-plus role takes shape

In addition to the focus on data, Dow has also invested considerably over the past few years to put digital platforms in place, including those aimed at improving and speeding up the pace of innovation and delivering a better digital buying experience on Dow.com while expanding direct connections with customers. Dow is also working to digitize its manufacturing sites, channeling data to the field where it’s needed to drive decisions and improve operational efficiency, operating discipline, safety, and reliability, according to CIO and CDO Kalmar. “Digital at Dow represents a company strategy, not just an IT strategy,” she says.

Melanie Kalmar, CVP, CIO, and chief digital officer, Dow


Other CIOs, like Kalmar, are expanding their roles and oversight responsibilities beyond IT as digital strategies move front and center in the business. Many are taking on new revenue responsibilities — a move cited by 68% of IT leaders this year, up from 65% in the 2022 State of the CIO survey. As part of the move, 44% of IT leaders are managing a team tasked with new revenue-generating capabilities, while a quarter are members of such a team, the research found. As part of this expanded revenue charter, IT leaders are automating business and IT processes (47%), creating new products and services (40%), and making data more available (34%).

Foundry / CIO.com

Andrew Ho of Global Strategy Group (GSG) now has ownership of both the IT and offices services organizations — a move precipitated by the synergies between the two areas. With hybrid work now a mainstay, Ho’s dual role ensures he has accountability for evolving employee experience and engagement from working both remotely and in-office. For example, when reconfiguring office space to accommodate hybrid work, it’s impossible to separate technology requirements from construction given the need for immersive audio-visual tools, Zoom rooms, and hoteling capabilities, says Ho, senior vice president and head of technology and office services for GSG, a research, communications, and public affairs agency.

Andrew Ho, SVP and head of technology and office services, Global Strategy Group

Global Strategy Group

In addition, Ho says the office services staff is also best positioned to handle the front-end technical support for the firm given they are always in office and maintain a certain relationship with employees. “The lines have blurred with what is facilities versus what is technology, and all of that falls under IT,” he says.

Foundry / CIO.com

Sastry Durvasula, who holds both the CIO and client service officer titles, came into TIAA a year ago in part for the CIO-plus opportunity. From a technology perspective, Durvasula’s 2023 roadmap balances transformation through a digital-first agenda built around data and AI for hyper-personalized experiences while at the same time, modernizing the core platforms and processes by harnessing automation and orchestrating hybrid, multicloud migration.

On the Client Services front, Durvasula’s focus is also on AI and automation to transform the way TIAA does everything from front-office client engagement to fraud management and client support services. “Our fundamental belief is that Client Services would have a significant benefit to have proximity to technology as they would be the biggest beneficiary when it comes to AI, automation, and the digital services we are investing in,” Durvasula explains. “It makes a lot of sense to bring them together.”

Sastry Durvasula, CIO and client service officer, TIAA


Durvasula, who’s held CIO-plus roles with oversight of IT and digital products at other companies, firmly believes technology’s front-and-center role in business strategy has changed the game and set IT leaders on a new course. It’s not a matter of switching focus between technology initiatives and business strategy, he says, it’s a balancing act that requires an equal focus on both.

“Now that technology is front and center in business strategy and not a back-end enabler, that changes the CIO role quite a bit,” he says. “Technology is disrupting business in a lot of ways and this is the best time to be on the CIO career path. The branches are wide open.”

Business IT Alignment, CIO, Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

The retail industry is always in motion. Shifting macro-economic influences and changing customer expectations spark new business models, channel strategies, and strategic partnerships. To keep pace, retailers require a strong digital core that delivers powerful data-driven insights while staying compliant, maintaining security, and preventing fraud.  

Shree Venkat, chief architect at TCS, and GV Krishnan, Head of Solutions & Sales for the TCS Microsoft Unit in the UK and Ireland, note that business transformation, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), can help retailers innovate across four primary areas:  

Customer experience: Consumers want to engage with a retailer in a manner that eases their path through the shopping transaction.  TCS is a pioneer in delivering cloud-based solutions that facilitate hyper-personalization, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 with Microsoft Dynamics 365 CoPilot, which turns service agents into superagents.  With Copilot, which brings next-generation AI capabilities and natural language processing to Dynamics 365, agents can quickly craft a draft email or chat response to customers with a single click. 

These insights can be used to deliver exclusive pricing offers, personalized call center access, and other rewards that build customer loyalty. AI/ML-based solutions like  Microsoft Cognitive Services helps further drive bespoke preferential services through sophisticated vision, language, speech, sentiment and contextual analysis to make bots more informed and more conversational.  

Retailers are also improving customer experiences by removing friction. Digitally driven innovations such as automated self-checkouts, pick and go, and contactless payments are helping in making happy customers. “When retailers embark on this journey, they gain more control in providing optimum customer experience and give their customers a sense of affiliation at the same time” says Shree Venkat. 

Store and channel operations: Customers have fully embraced ecommerce, social commerce, mobile commerce, and services such as buy online/pick up in store (BOPIS) and buy online/pick up at curb (BOPAC). 5G and edge computing technologies are helping retailers integrate and optimize in-store experiences. TCS specializes in AI-powered vision technologies like Microsoft Azure Percept to create a smart retail store solution that helps with visitor recognition, foot traffic analysis, store design planning, product quantity/quality checks, and more.  

Supply chain & sustainability transformation: Integration of data and digital systems with suppliers is a quintessential requirement for retailers to embark on intelligent supply chain initiatives. IoT & AI/ML-powered technologies can enable business capabilities such as just-in-time inventory management and auto-replenishment, which in addition to reducing waste and saving money also help retailers track, record, manage, reduce, and report emissions.  (In this whitepaper, TCS and Microsoft explore how to embark on supply chain decarbonization initiatives.)  

Employee experience: Shree Venkat believes the above three areas of business transformation seamlessly and quickly empower retail staff. Low-code/no-code technologies like Microsoft Power Platform, Azure Communication Services, and Azure OpenAI enable organizations to quickly capture customer sentiment, search for and respond to customer queries, and pass on the information to their frontline employees, providing real-time data about stocks, product insights, customer profiles, their buying patterns, and other behaviors to help them deliver better experiences across multiple channels. Training employees to use new digital tools and services is a critical step in the transformation journey for retailers. 

A powerful partnership 

Retailers face many challenges in keeping pace with rapidly changing markets and consumer demands. TCS along with Microsoft empower retailers to maximize the value derived from their Microsoft Cloud investments. The TCS Algo Retail™ framework, together with Microsoft Cloud for Retail, helps retail organizations transform into resilient, adaptable enterprises. 

TCS offers a rich portfolio of intellectual property using machine vision, conversational assistants, predictive analytics, machine learning, AI, and other capabilities on Microsoft Cloud. They include:  

TCS Optumera™— A strategic retail optimization suite that enables integrated, intelligent merchandising and supply chain decisions TCS OmniStore™— A future commerce platform that enables unified customer journeys catering to new channels and brand expansions TCS Optunique™— An enterprise personalization solution that delivers contextual hyper-personalization across omnichannel journeys 

These solutions help retailers enhance customer engagement, accelerate the launch of new products and services, build differentiation, and unlock business value.  

Learn how to master your cloud transformation journey with TCS and Microsoft Cloud.  

Cloud Computing, Retail Industry

Data is the powerhouse of digital transformation. That’s no surprise. But did you know that data is also one of the most significant factors in whether a company can achieve its sustainability goals? 

Business leaders are at a crossroads. On one hand, a perilous financial landscape threatens to stall growth, with companies of all sizes retreating to more well-established profit drivers. On the other hand, environmental stewardship has swelled into a legitimate consideration underpinning nearly every business decision, underscored by the severity of recent climate reports and a surge in consumer activism.  

This begs the question – as digital and environmental transition both hit the top of corporate agendas, what are the most important changes needed to achieve this dual transition?  

In this webinar, Microsoft’s Rosie Mastrandrea, TCS’ Jai Mishra, and Equinor’s Vegard Torset explore the crossroads of data and digital transformation — and how the right approach can unlock your sustainability goals. 

Watch the webinar.  

Digital Transformation, Financial Services Industry

Companies across nearly every vertical are finding a transformational lifeline in industry clouds. Swiss biopharmaceutical Idorsia is one such company, having embraced a partnership with industry cloud provider Veeva to survive.

In June 2017, Idorsia had a lot on its plate, namely a new company to stand up, with 650 scientists and employees, a robust discovery pipeline, early-stage clinical assets, and plans to launch commercial products within five years.

More challenging, its spin-off from Actelion following Johnson & Johnson’s acquisition meant there were no systems or technology platforms. Idorsia needed a partner to help it move through the arduous scientific process and multiple-nation regulatory processes that accompany drug launches.

“We started with a blank page. I actually had no other choice than going for the cloud at that time,” says Joseph Bejjani, CIO of Idorsia, who selected Veeva, an industry cloud for life sciences. “Veeva covers a large scope of our environment from clinical development to quality regulatory affairs from a user experience in one interface.”

That’s just one of the benefits of an industry cloud, he says. Veeva’s life sciences cloud, for example, not only handles Idorsia’s regulatory, sustainability, and commercial processes but also provides predefined FDA formatting.

Perhaps most important, Idorsia taps into Veeva’s evolving knowledge base, which encompasses data from other customers such as major pharmaceuticals giants Merck, Bayer, and Kronos, the CIO says. And that is a major gain for a startup — getting the know-how and experience of Veeva’s entire customer base, he says.

“Compliance is key for us, but industry knowledge is extremely important for a relatively small company. We get the collective knowledge of our industry,” he says, noting that Idorsia also relies on Veeva to navigate regulatory issues that vary in each nation. “Veeva cloud solution provides us with industry best practices.”

Going vertical

Hundreds of “industry clouds” tailored to specific verticals have been developed by a range of vendors, from hypervisors that sponsor vertical solutions to consulting firms that have built custom clouds for select clients.

These clouds are also often distinguished by the underlying partnership that resulted in the solution or the underlying platform on which the cloud runs. Veeva, for example, runs on Salesforce CRM.

Idorsia’s Bejjani says there are two components to the biopharmaceutical’s Veeva cloud: one for R&D and another for commercial requirements. Idorsia chose Veeva when it was in the last phase of a clinical study of its first commercial insomnia drug. The company had only nine months to complete the process before submitting its application to the FDA.

Joseph Bejjani, CIO, Idorsia


Veeva’s solution captures all the management and technology checkpoints — the structure, output, and terminology, Bejjani says, adding that it then “integrates with another fundamental tool in our clinical operations. This file captures all the data that we use to submit our procedure. It’s pre-defined with standard chapters. When you submit to the FDA, you must have clearly defined chapters.”

Idorsia could build its own Salesforce-based solution but the value Veeva adds is immeasurable, its CIO notes. “It’s better to go with an industry cloud because you inherit what research work the industry cloud provider has,” he says.

Idorsia currently has two products launched commercially. The insomnia solution launched in the US, Italy, and Germany. Last year, the company launched another product in Japan and currently has 10 products in clinical development, roughly half of which are in the late stages.

“The configuration we have today has been extremely beneficial because I do have the vendor’s attention. I have a unique setup. I have a large scope of functionality and systems,” Bejjani says, noting his strategy and speed, simplicity and sustainability needs led him to choose a cloud platform based solution from a preferred vendor with strong industry knowledge and presence.”

Making sense of a complex market

Given the variety of approaches and solutions, the industry cloud market has grown vast and complex. Consulting firms such as KPMG and Accenture agree there is no clear definition of what an industry cloud is, and its components, services, and technology stacks are still evolving.

“It’s a term that is still forming, but we would all agree on now is that it’s using cloud technology to solve problems specific to an industry sector,” says Marcus Murph, KPMG’s US leader for cloud.

Murph points out, for example, that Microsoft has a financial solutions industry cloud yet many enterprises use IBM for financial services in the cloud and still other financial companies have developed a high-end solution in conjunction with NASDAQ that includes analytics and machine learning models.

Much of the focus of industry clouds to date has been on foundational aspects of doing business in the cloud, such as which workloads to migrate to the cloud, whether to lift and shift those workloads directly to the cloud, or redesign them from scratch into cloud-native applications. But as Idorsia’s use of Veeva shows, some industry clouds also offer industry-based tooling, such as “solutions that address regulatory challenges and controls in different sectors, as well as data models specific to different vertical sectors,” Murph says.

Due to their nature, industry clouds likely will remain collaborative affairs. “The industry-based cloud has to be an ecosystem that stitches different technologies together and solves different problems,” Murph says. “I don’t know that you’ll ever see one company dominate an industry cloud on its own.”

CIOs must think strategically before selecting an existing industry cloud solution or building a custom industry cloud with a partner, says Ashley Skyrme, global cloud first strategy and consulting lead at Accenture.

This involves “rewiring their value chain” of products, solutions, and services, namely rethinking their tech stack more strategically, orchestrating multiple data assets and unlocking data from many sources.         

Skyrme pointed to Volkswagen as a great example of an enterprise that built an automotive cloud platform by opening up and collaborating across different industries to bring its supply chain together.

“It’s not a pre-formulated kit,” Skyrme says about defining the industry cloud. “We think of it as much more exhaustive across the cloud continuum. It’s an evolving ecosystem of standardized, reusable, and interoperable digital assets. That’s the holy grail of the industry cloud. Driving differentiation and growth … new products, new platforms, and new experiences.”

As for Idorsia, embracing an early but established life sciences industry cloud has no doubt enabled the startup to turn its R&D into a profitable business — which can be more challenging than the science itself. And Bejjani is one CIO who is glad he didn’t try to tackle it alone.

“We could do it, but it would be very time consuming and expensive,” he says. “Veeva already created the vertical for the pharmaceutical industry and the workflows and terminologies of the industry are pre-configured and embedded in their product.”

For enterprises like Idorsia whose tech stacks aren’t their key differentiator, the value proposition of industry clouds is compelling.

Cloud Computing

The cloud has changed the IT and business worlds forever, and generally for the better. But when misused or abused the cloud can backfire, leading to a serious business setback or, in a worst-case situation, long-term competitive damage.

Ensuing proper cloud use is essential in today’s high-stakes, fast-paced business environment. Learn from the following 10 mistakes, and do your best not to repeat them.

1. Poor planning

Enterprises risk running into trouble if they lack a detailed cloud strategy. “A pragmatic and structured architectural approach when moving to the cloud is critical,” says William Peldzus, senior director and Center of Excellence head with enterprise consulting firm Capgemini Americas.

It’s imperative to think strategically when moving to the cloud, Peldzus says. “Proper architectural designs and preparations will potentially eliminate days, if not weeks and months, of troubleshooting and debugging issues.”

Even small steps will position an organization for cloud success, Peldzus states. Learning from any missteps made along the way, from planning to migration, is also important. “Those who attempt to jump into the cloud and figure it out on the fly will not be successful,” he warns.

2. Misunderstanding migration

Cloud migration is not a once-and-done process. “It’s a continuous journey with complex interrelated issues,” says Karthik Narain, cloud first lead at enterprise advisory firm Accenture.

Many IT leaders mistakenly view cloud migration as a conventional project, complete with bedrock start and finish dates. Yet recent Accenture research found that 32% of enterprises that view their cloud journey as complete are actually leaving value on the table while placing their organizations at risk. “A narrow focus on cost savings can put organizations at a competitive disadvantage compared to those using the cloud more strategically across its many dynamic forms, including public, private, and edge,” Narain says. “In fact, our … research has shown that those [organizations] that viewed the cloud strategically actually reduced cost more than those focused only on efficiency.”

3. Underestimating cloud costs

It’s a common misconception that cloud migration always leads to immediate cost savings. “In reality, cloud migration is expensive, and not having a full and complete picture of all costs can sink a business,” warns Aref Matin, CTO at publishing firm John Wiley & Sons.

Cloud migration often does lead to cost savings, but careful, detailed planning is essential. Still, as the cloud migration progresses, hidden costs will inevitably appear and multiply. “You must ensure at the start of the project that you have a full, holistic cloud budget,” Matin advises.

Cloud costs appear in various forms. Sometimes they’re in plain sight, such as the cost of walking away from an existing data facility. Yet many expenses aren’t so obvious. “For example, the cost of talent, including reskilling, upskilling, and finding the right cloud talent, or for reorganizing your business structure,” Matin says. “All of these expenses should be considered in your planning.”

4. Cloud complacency

Cloud computing’s first era is drawing to a close. Most enterprises already have some form of cloud infrastructure in place, observes Ronen Schwartz, general manager and senior vice president, cloud storage, at hybrid cloud data services and data management firm NetApp.

The cloud is at an inflection point, Schwartz states. Many organizations still retain significant amounts of data, applications, and workloads on premises, even as they continue migrating to the cloud. Yet he believes that many such enterprises are now entering an evolved cloud — hybrid multicloud environments in which cloud services are fully integrated into the organization’s architecture and operations.

“It breaks down silos to simplify management and deliver observability everywhere,” Schwartz says. “The evolved cloud is just like its name suggests — it’s not an end state.”

Once an enterprise enters the evolved cloud, Schwartz recommends pushing forward to avoid stagnation. “If they migrated applications, now they can refactor them for the cloud,” he says. “If they’ve refactored them, they can now optimize for performance or for cost.” In either case, Schwartz advises pushing forward and evolving along with the cloud.

5. Poor data accessibility

A major challenge facing many larger enterprises is leveraging data spread across disparate systems. “Ensuring that data is accessible and secure across multiple environments, on-premises as well as on applications running in the cloud, is an increasing headache,” says Darlene Williams, CIO of software development firm Rocket Software. She notes that a survey of mainframe technology users revealed that 80% believe that mainframe technology remains critical to business operations.

Abandoning data stored on legacy systems can deprive departments of access to potentially valuable insights. Williams warns that enterprises that tip the scale too far toward the cloud, risk forgetting the inherent value of data locked in legacy hardware.

6. Platform sprawl

Whenever possible, IT leaders should consolidate and merge cloud-based services to reduce costs and avoid platform sprawl, says Wayne Carter, vice president of engineering, with cloud database technology provider Couchbase. “For example, rather than using multiple databases, a multimodal database can handle different data types and models from a single, integrated backend and prevent … data sprawl and spending unnecessary funds.”

Carter advises IT leaders to look deep within their organizations to understand how software resources are being used. “They may find there’s software that can have multiple licenses added for more than one team to use across the company,” he notes.

7. Inadequate security

Lax security can turn a promising cloud initiative into an IT nightmare. “Avoiding cloud security-related mistakes requires understanding your cloud environment and ensuring that appropriate guardrails are in place to safeguard your infrastructure against external and internal security threats,” says Emmanuel Nnodim, cloud architect at IT consulting firm SPR.

Failing to guard against against external and internal threats can be lethal, because it jeopardizes the organization’s reputation, weakens customer trust, and can lead to significant financial losses. Nnodim recommends that every stage of cloud planning should include a thorough security assessment.

8. Unbridled enthusiasm

Many enterprises view the cloud as a miracle technology, downplaying the amount of planning and work needed to address real-world design and operational challenges. “When firms encounter these challenges, they struggle to find the skills and experience needed to remediate issues,” says Sunil Moorjani, a director with global technology research and advisory firm ISG.

Moorjani observes that the arrival of multicloud environments, combined with a persistent talent shortage, has made cloud deployment and management even more complex. As a result, many adopters have been disappointed by their “cloud first” results. He reports that nearly 70% of respondents to a recent ISG survey have achieved less than 20% of their primary goals, and many have accounted significant budget overruns and missed deadlines.

Even when viewing cloud adoption in realistic terms, many IT leaders fail to understand that cloud adoption isn’t merely a technical exercise. “Firms must also pay attention to contractual obligations,” Moorjani warns. He notes that multiyear contracts can lock unwary clients into expensive, inflexible consumption models.

9. Rushing migration

Overeager cloud migrators tend to favor a “lift and shift” migration approach, underestimating the long-term costs associated with failing to optimize antiquated applications.

“Enterprises driving to digitize without the proper steps in place will be drained by 10% higher-than-average cloud costs, legacy application delivery times lagging by as much as 400%, high-risk security vulnerabilities, and staggering maintenance and compliance requirements,” warns Marco Roman, head of North American field operations at e-Core, a technology consulting and development services provider. “It’s evidently pennywise and pound foolish to cut these early corners.”

10. Not looking forward

The cloud is continuing to evolve, supporting and improving core business operations in an ever-growing number of ways. Enterprises should always be looking forward, aligning their business strategies to accommodate multicloud, cloud edge computing, and other advancements, advises Matthias Loh, financial services technology lead with enterprise consulting firm EY Americas.

As CIOs ponder which cloud strategies to pursue, they will need to consider how to best future-proof and architect their cloud designs to avoid silos, drive new and profitable growth, and maintain efficiency, security, and transparency. “It’s critical to have a clear and deliberate framework on how to best address the risks and costs associated with the cloud,” Loh adds.

Cloud Computing, IT Strategy

Dwayne Allen is an ORBIE-award winning technology executive primed for times like these. Equipped with experiences across a range of industries, a healthy dose of self-awareness, and a passion for learning and people, Allen is redefining the art of the possible as a strategic and innovative CTO. In his current role as senior vice president and CTO at Unisys, he has accountability not just for technology but also solution innovation, architecture and IP, and patents. True to his customer-first, business-focused leadership style, he is actively involved with customer interactions as well.

When we sat down for a recent episode of the Tech Whisperers podcast, Allen opened up about how his career journey, which has spanned seven big brand companies and four industries, has shaped the multidimensional leadership style he operates with today. Afterwards, we spent some more time talking about Allen’s philosophy of IT leadership, some of the key skills and qualities that have enabled his success, and his advice to IT managers, directors, and vice presidents who aspire to have what Allen calls “transcendent impact” and deliver greater value to the business. What follows is that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Dan Roberts: What do you mean by the ‘transcendent impact’ of IT leadership? And how do we live up to it?

Dwayne Allen: If you look at the definition of transcendence, it means going beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge. The reason I emphasize it is that, of all the disciplines on a leadership team, IT sometimes has the richest insight across the workings of a company, but somehow it gets put in a box and doesn’t get out of it. If you’re in marketing, you can move over and run a business unit, or become CFO, or you could possibly become CEO. There are some recent examples of CIOs doing this — Greg Carmichael, who was CIO at Fifth Third when he hired me moved to COO and then CEO. Ted Colbert is another former CIO who became a CEO, and other CIOs are joining boards. In general, though, I think IT executives are still very underutilized in a holistic business mindset.

As I was thinking about my curious career journey, along with that of other colleagues in the industry, it made me think about the concept of transcendent impact. A key ingredient of success is the intersection of capability and opportunity. At Unisys I’m fortunate to have a CEO and COO that have created an environment where I can expand my reach and potential impact, so I’m more than just the typical CTO or CIO. I’ve gone on sales pitches to clients, get to play a role on the process for our execs to engage with client accounts, and I’m heavily engaged with our investment committee. Over time I have also begun to participate in some aspects of our strategy. It’s great to work for leaders that see me as a valuable partner so I can help in any way I can, which actually deepens my commitment to the company.

So sometimes, as IT executives, we have to aim higher, stepping outside of the IT or digital space, to demonstrate more value we can add and resisting the temptation to stay in a box. Again, the work environment and culture acts as an enabler to be able to express ‘I’m not just a CTO’ in order to get involved in sales and get involved in other aspects of learning, leadership, and growth, as well as strategy and marketing and ideas. Why limit yourself to just saying, ‘We need a network upgrade to move to the cloud,’ when you can also make other suggestions? We have to do a better job of telling our story.

Integral to your success as an executive is your ability to deliver what you describe as ‘value without boundaries or limits.’ Can you talk about how aspiring leaders can learn to achieve that?

I see it as multidimensional competence, but it starts with the core. You have to start with our IT expertise, because that’s why we were hired, so you must be good at what you do, and that includes staying current on what’s going on, from cloud to cyber to ChatGPT or whatever the relevant emerging trends are at the time. You must be familiar with your business and how IT can help them meet their strategic goals.

Next comes industry experience. I’ve been in four industries, but while I was at Microsoft, I served several more — healthcare and retail, for example. So that IT expertise gets bundled with a variety of industry experiences, which enables us to really get to understand different ways value can be delivered, because you are leveraging what you’ve learned in one industry as you move to the next. So when I moved from banking to manufacturing to learn the differences in terms of supply chain, inventory, sales, how they go to market, warranties and so forth, I felt a different type of growth.

The next layer is a bit of a strategic orientation. So, it’s not just my IT expertise and the industries I’ve been in, but also how that enables original thought and ideas. Sometimes others in the business won’t expect those ideas from the IT executive, but you now know enough to say, ‘Why don’t we consider doing this?’ Maybe you don’t initially get the credit, but you start to recognize, I’ve got more in this brain than just IT stuff. So, it’s developing the strategic orientation. Again, being in the right environment helps enable this, so I am fortunate to be at Unisys, especially with the energy of our new brand.

The final piece is business acumen, which is where you start speaking the language of the business. You start talking to them in their terms — and it throws them off at first because they will expect you to talk about technical features and performance, but as you start talking sales, profit margin, and customer retention, you are building a deeper connection.

Can you share an example?

One of my favorite stories is when I was at a large manufacturing company. I was the CIO of one of the segments — $6 billion in sales, five businesses, with 75 sites in 13 countries. I did a big ERP presentation at the segment president’s leadership meeting. I covered getting up to a common release version, benefits, costs, and timeline. In the end the president said, in front of everyone, ‘Dwayne, for that amount of money, I could build several manufacturing plants. This doesn’t seem like a good investment at all.’

While disappointing, this was an invaluable lesson. I was not speaking the language of the business; thus it failed. About a year later I came back — this time partnering with one of the business heads — with a manufacturing transformation presentation focusing on advanced supply chain, material management, inventory reduction, quality, etc. It won immediate support. It still required the same upgrade and costs, but now it made more sense because I was talking in business terms not technical terms.

When you do those things and start to realize the greater impact opportunity and better understand the art of the possible, you start to say, ‘Why aren’t we going to market this way?’ It all ties together. Each experience in your journey builds to the next one.

It seems like this also makes a difference in how you’re viewed as a business partner, which goes back to the opportunity IT has for transcendent impact. Can you dig a little deeper on that?

The core is that multidimensional competence. Once you’ve got that core, then there are no boundaries. Typically, that core goes one direction — technical — or sometimes two — technical and industry. It could be, this is great for solutions and industries because you could do more in that bucket and stay true to that. Over time, it could be, you’re good at this, you can develop talent, and you’re good at leveraging a strategic partnership to deliver any deliverable.

So those are two, and people tend to stop there. But guess what? We can also go into the business. As I said, I’m on sales calls. I can talk to someone about our cloud strategy and things of that nature. Even if you’re not in a business unit, you can be such a contributor that if there’s a strategy conversation, they’re going to make sure you’re in the meeting. You’re not ‘just IT.’

The collection of all of that presents a different value proposition. You could then be a candidate for a board of directors or to serve in some advisory capacity because now you’ve got everything covered. You’ve got solutions and industries, talent and partners, business and strategy, and boards and advisory. There are no limits — you transcend.

To get it all done, you have to galvanize people in a multidirectional way. It’s really having a 360-degree people orientation, isn’t it?

I call it the paradox of leadership. In my position right now, I’ve got to engender enough confidence with executive leadership that I can deliver on what they’re expecting of me. At the same time, I have to inspire a staff to deliver that. And you’re only successful with both. If I inspire my staff, but the leadership team doesn’t believe in me, that’s not going to work. And then, if I get the confidence of the business but my staff doesn’t deliver, that doesn’t work. So you’ve got to do both.

How would you sum it all up for an aspiring IT leader who is looking to follow in your footsteps?

Well first, it’s a journey. You’re getting a summary, but this road was paved with bumps, bruises, setbacks, and a few failures. The key is to not let that hold back the aspiration or vision. It will, at times, require some resilience and courage, but IT affords us such a unique vantage point across the company. You’ve got to embrace learning, stay keenly observant and be agile. We can leverage insights that no one else can see and integrate them into the business mindset. While IT is a profession we do, as a business leader and strategic thinker, it’s about what we are.

Speak the language of the business and focus on impacting the business. Ask for business responsibilities in addition to your IT discipline — and ask to lead or heavily contribute, not just participate. Show them the value we can add. It’s possibly so much greater than you and they even realize. Go for it!

For more insights and advice from Dwayne Allen on how to redefine your value proposition, tune in to the Tech Whisperers podcast.

IT Leadership

Picture this: A newly hired CIO of a large Fortune 500 company meets with all the C-level executives of the firm in the CEO’s office. During the meet and greet, after saying how he looks forward to setting up one-on-ones with all of them to discuss their thoughts on the IT department, he notices a bit of indifference among the people in the room.

Reflecting on this after the meeting, he sits down with the CEO and asks how she would evaluate IT’s performance to date. Without hesitation she says she was responsible for the change in IT leadership. The department was not in sync with the corporation, and all her VPs told her IT is not developing the systems needed for the success of the corporation.

She continues, “I don’t hear that sales isn’t selling the right products or that manufacturing isn’t making the correct products. Why is it always IT that is not aligned with the business?”

She along with every other C-level executive the CIO meets with over the next several weeks tell him that they hope he will be better able to determine the company’s IT needs and develop the systems the company needs to accomplish its goals.

What should the CIO do to solve this problem? What would you do?

Enter the IT steering committee

After decades leading IT, I have found only two solutions to the problem experienced by our hypothetical CIO: Dig in and learn every requirement of every department by interviewing all decision makers, or create an IT steering committee (ITSC) composed of all CEO direct reports in order to use their combined knowledge to reach consensus as to what IT priorities will accomplish the corporation’s goals.

For those CIOs looking to do IT alone, by all means, choose the first path. But my recommendation is to embrace the ITSC because the first method won’t ensure that you will correctly address the most important corporate issues.

There are many ways to implement an ITSC, but to start, you and your committee members must work together continuously on a strategic plan until the planning group can finalize an immediate one-year plan that is approved by all departments.

Then each department must take this one-year plan and decide what resources are needed to accomplish their objectives — a process that should include conversations with IT to help determine what is needed.

These requirements should then be examined by IT and senior department heads to determine initial time and cost estimates, along with expected ROI, which should be the responsibility of the requesting department.

With these plans now submitted to the ITSC, the committee, which remember is composed of all direct reports of the CEO or the COO to ensure all departments are included, then determines whether the systems requested do indeed represent what the company needs and at the speed they are needed. By doing so, the committee can determine whether staffing is sufficient or if additional resources are required to accomplish planned goals.

Note that the IT operating budget should not be finalized until the ITSC finishes this work.

If this process is followed, there is no way for the IT agenda to be misaligned with corporate goals. If it is not aligned, then it is the fault of the top leaders in the corporation, not IT.

How to handle the kicking and screaming

Inevitably, you may deal with objections to such a process, as some business leaders may feel opposed to taking on what they perceive to be IT’s work, or they may feel the process won’t result in the kind of spontaneous technology-needs requests they think they’d rather force on you.

Let me address the range of concerns you’re likely to encounter.

‘I don’t have time to do IT’s work’: It is every C-level executive’s job to ensure the right systems are in place to deliver on the company’s strategic plan. Companies that have lost business because their computer systems did not keep up-to-date with competitive forces in their industry are legion. The old software of an airline in the recent news may be a good example. And it isn’t just IT that is dealing with the fallout.

Additionally, it’s crazy to think today’s CIOs will be so smart that they alone can determine the best IT systems for the company. For that, business leaders must hold up their side of the conversation. The ITSC gives them the opportunity to help set the IT agenda for their own needs — and holds them to it.

‘IT is too rigid. Our plans change all the time’: This may be true for your business, and IT must be prepared to change priorities as quickly as needed. But the ITSC gives a framework for ensuring changes to the plan are strategic, fully vetted with line of business involvement, and prioritized.

‘I don’t understand technology. That’s IT’s job’: Yes,  senior executives do not need to understand how the sausage is made. But they must make sure the right sausage is made. The ITSC has nothing to do with the bits and bytes but rather the best use of the company’s resources, in this case IT, which is every executive’s job.

‘How should I know what new technologies are out there to exploit?’: Remember, the CIO must be a member of the ITSC and has a twofold role: (1) Participate and opine on what the company needs, and (2) be up-to-date on disruptive emerging technologies.

That said, C-level executives should at least try to be aware of technologies emerging in their area and bring them to the attention of IT.

Success is in sharing the burden

Given the importance of technology to business success today, if a company feels it is right to allow the CIO to make all prioritizing decisions for IT, then it is placing the future of the company in the CIO’s hands alone.

Certainly, the CIO should have a voice in these decisions, but the agenda must be driven by corporate consensus. Most IT systems take a long time to implement and a lot of corporate resources. And once it is up and running, any given IT system will be the method that the company uses to do its business for a long time.

There are very few initiatives that a company embarks on today that don’t involve IT systems. By establishing an ITSC, not only will your organization be better positioned to capitalize on its goals, but the CIO will also never be asked why IT is not working on a particular project, because everyone was involved in those decisions as part of the steering committee.

In my book The 9 1/2 Secrets of a Great IT Organization the subtitle reads “Don’t Do IT Yourself.” IT must be considered an integral part of the modern corporation and it must accept the judgment of all departments to ensure the company can reach its potential and achieve corporate goals.

Business IT Alignment, IT Leadership

The past several years have thrown numerous challenges at consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. The pandemic has led to shifting consumer channel preferences, a supply chain crunch, and cost pressure, to name just a few. CPG titan Unilever has been answering the challenge with analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

The 93-year-old, London-based CPG company is the world’s largest soap producer. Its products include food and condiments, toothpaste, beauty products and much more, including brands like Dove, Hellmann’s, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Alessandro Ventura, CIO and vice president of analytics and business services for North America at Unilever, has been at the forefront of helping the company apply AI to its businesses for years. While originally in the role of IT director, he has since added analytics and people services to his portfolio.

“That’s everything from facility management, fleet management, employee and facilities services, and people data, and that kind of stuff,” Ventura explains.

Unilever believes AI is not a technology of tomorrow. It’s already being widely used, and Ventura feels all industries will need to adapt to it.

In recent months, Unilever has developed a number of new technology applications to help its lines of business in the markets of tomorrow. One of the most important is “Alex,” short for Alexander the Great. Alex, powered by ChatGPT, filters emails in Unilever’s Consumer Engagement Center, sorting spam from real consumer messages. For the legitimate messages, it then recommends responses to Unilever’s human agents.

“Although Alex is good at what it does, it may lack a bit of a personal touch that instead our consumer engagement center agents have in big quantities,” Ventura says. “So, we let them decide whether they want to respond to our consumer as Alex suggested, or they want to add some personal recommendation; if the answer suggested by Alex is wrong or doesn’t have an answer, they can flag it so Alex can learn it the following time.” 

Generative AI in action

Alex was created using a system of neural networks, with ChatGPT for content generation. Ventura says the tool can understand what a consumer is asking and even capture the tone. It can then store the answer and sentiment in Salesforce. Importantly, he says, the tool does the heavy lifting on those tasks, giving the human agents more time to dedicate to what they do best. To date, Ventura says Alex has helped Unilever reduce the amount of time agents spend drafting an answer by more than 90%.

Another Unilever tool, called Homer, leverages ChatGPT to generate content. It’s a neural network that takes a few details about a product and generates an Amazon product listing, with a short description and long description that matches the brand tone.

“We want to ensure we captured the voice of the brand so, for example, that we differentiate between a TRESemmé and a Dove shampoo, and the system got it absolutely nailed,” Ventura says. 

Another AI-based tool that Unilever launched on the week of US Thanksgiving supports the Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand. Its purpose is to reduce food waste.

“It links up with the recipe management system that we have at Hellmann’s, so somebody can go in and select two or three ingredients that they have in the fridge and get in exchange recipes for what they can do with those ingredients,” Ventura says.

In the first week, the tool got 80,000 users who reported loving it.

For Ventura, that’s the magic of analytics and AI in the CPG space: It enables personalization at scale.

“In CPG, we rely more and more on analytics and AI for different things,” he says. “Consumers are more and more specific about what they want. It’s a bit of a cliché, but they really do want personalized products and experiences. Analytics helps CPG to understand the context they’re navigating through and what the consumer wants, and then, with AI, we can scale that one-to-one relationship across all the multitude of consumers that we have.”

Co-creation key to AI success

Beyond the consumer relationship, analytics and AI are also key to making CPG companies more sustainable. Ventura points to examples like ingredient traceability and using machine learning (ML) to automate forecasting, which in turn helps the company minimize waste. Unilever is also applying analytics and AI to logistics, including tracking inventory and optimizing routes.

“The old interpretation of elasticity, we threw it out the window,” Ventura says of operations in the wake of the inflation crisis. “We had to come up with new calculations because the traditional ones were giving us very different scenarios from what we were seeing happening at the shelves. Going forward, we will continue to see that pressure from all the different challenges coming from the geopolitical situation around the world.” 

To support its innovation around analytics and AI, Unilever has adopted a hybrid model. It has a global center of excellence, but also keeps some data scientists embedded with business units.

“It’s basically a two-gear system,” Ventura says. “The local team can be activated very quickly, ingest the data very quickly, and then create a statistical model and analytics model together with the business, sitting next to each other. Then, if that model can be leveraged across and scaled, we pass it on to the global team so they can move data sets in the global data lake that we have and can start creating and maintaining that model at a global level.” 

Ventura believes co-creation and co-ownership of analytics and AI capabilities with the business function is essential to success.

“Whether it is machine learning for automating the forecast or Alex with the Consumer Engagement Center, if we show up with a black box and say, ‘Hey, follow whatever the machine tells you,’ it will take a long time and probably will never get to 100% trust in the machine,” Ventura says. “With co-creation and co-ownership, I feel like we get to start with the right foot, with the human and the machine working alongside each other in partnership, almost as colleagues. Also, you get a much less biased system in the end because you’re able to introduce a much more diverse angle in your algorithms, both from a business perspective and a technology perspective.” 

Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation

Many people associate high-performance computing (HPC), also known as supercomputing, with far-reaching government-funded research or consortia-led efforts to map the human genome or to pursue the latest cancer cure. 

But HPC can also be used to advance more traditional business outcomes — from fraud detection and intelligent operations to digital transformation. The challenge: making complex compute-intensive technology accessible for mainstream use.

As companies digitally transform and steer toward becoming data-driven businesses, there is a need for increased computing horsepower to manage and extract business intelligence and drive data-intensive workloads at scale. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and real-time analytics applications, often deployed at the edge, can utilize HPC resources to unlock insights from data and efficiently run increasingly large and more complex models and simulations. 

The convergence of HPC with AI-based analytics is impacting nearly every industry and across a wide range of applications, including space exploration, drug discovery, financial modeling, automotive design, and systems engineering.

“HPC is becoming a utility in our lives — people aren’t thinking about what it takes to design this tire, validate a chip design, parse and analyze customer preferences, do risk management, or build a 3D structure of the COVID-19 virus,” notes Max Alt, distinguished technologist and director of Hybrid HPC at HPE. “HPC is everywhere, but you don’t think about it, because it’s hidden at the core.”

HPC’s scalable architecture is particularly well suited for AI applications, given the nature of computation required and the unpredictable growth of data associated with these workflows. HPC’s use of graphics-processing-unit (GPU) parallel processing power — coupled with its simultaneous processing of compute, storage, interconnects, and software — raises the bar on AI efficiencies. At the same time, such applications and workflows can operate and scale more readily.

Even with widespread usage, there is more opportunity to leverage HPC for better and faster outcomes and insights. HPC architecture — typically clusters of CPU and GPUs working in parallel and connected to a high-speed network and data storage system — is expensive, requiring a significant capital investment. HPC workloads are typically associated with vast data sets, which means that public cloud might be an expensive option due to requirements regarding latency and performance issues. In addition, data security and data gravity concerns often rule out public cloud. 

Another major barrier to more widespread deployment: a lack of in-house specialized expertise and talent. HPC infrastructure is far more complex than traditional IT infrastructure, requiring specialized skills for managing, scheduling, and monitoring workloads. “You have tightly coupled computing with HPC, so all of the servers need to be well synchronized and performing operations in parallel together,” Alt explains. “With HPC, everything needs to be in sync, and if one node goes down, it can fail a large, expensive job. So, you need to make sure there is support for fault tolerance.”

HPE GreenLake for HPC Is a Game Changer

An as-a-service approach can address many of these challenges and unlock the power of HPC for digital transformation. HPE GreenLake for HPC enables companies to unleash the power of HPC without having to make big up-front investments on their own. This as-a-service-based delivery model enables enterprises to pay for HPC resources based on the capacity they use. At the same time, it provides access to third-party experts who can manage and maintain the environment in a company-owned data center or colocation facility while freeing up internal IT departments.

“The trend of consuming what used to be a boutique computing environment now as-a-service is growing exponentially,” Alt says. 

HPE GreenLake for HPC bundles the core components of an HPC solution (high-speed storage, parallel file systems, low-latency interconnect, and high-bandwidth networking) in an integrated software stack that can be assembled to meet an organization’s specific workload needs. 

As part of the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, HPE GreenLake for HPC gives organizations access to turnkey and easily scalable HPC capabilities through a cloud service consumption model that’s available on-premises. The HPE GreenLake platform experience provides transparency for HPC usage and costs and delivers self-service capabilities; users pay only for the HPC resources they consume, and built-in buffer capacity allows for scalability, including unexpected spikes in demand. HPE experts also manage the HPC environment, freeing up IT resources and delivering access to the specialized performance tuning, capacity planning, and life cycle management skills.

To meet the needs of the most demanding compute and data-intensive workloads, including AI and ML initiatives, HPE has turbocharged HPE GreenLake for HPC with purpose-built HPC capabilities. Among the more notable features are expanded GPU capabilities, including NVIDIA Tensor Core models; support for high-performance HPE Parallel File System Storage; multicloud connector APIs; and HPE Slingshot, a high-performance Ethernet fabric designed to meet the needs of data-intensive AI workloads. HPE also released lower entry points to HPC to make the capabilities more accessible for customers looking to test and scale workloads.

As organizations pursue HPC capabilities, they should consider the following:

Stop thinking of HPC in terms of a specialized boutique technology; think of it more as a common utility used to drive business outcomes.

Look for HPC options that are supported by a rich ecosystem of complementary tools and services to drive better results and deliver customer excellence.

Evaluate the HPE GreenLake for HPC model. Organizations can dial capabilities up and down, depending on need, while simplifying access and lowering costs.

HPC horsepower is critical, as data-intensive workloads, including AI, take center stage. An as-a-service model democratizes what’s traditionally been out of reach for most, delivering an accessible path to HPC while accelerating data-first business.

For more information, visit https://www.hpe.com/us/en/hpe-greenlake-compute.html

High-Performance Computing

Companies capture more data and compute capacity at the edge. At the same time, they are laying the groundwork for a distributed enterprise that can capitalize on a multiplier effect to maximize intended business outcomes.

The number of edge sites — factory floors, retail shops, hospitals, and countless other locations — is growing. This gives businesses more opportunity to gain insights and make better decisions across the distributed enterprise. Data follows the activities of customers, employees, patients, and processes. Pushing computing power to the distributed edge ensures that data can be analyzed in near real time — a model not possible with cloud computing. 

With centralized cloud computing, due to bandwidth constraints, it takes too long to move large data sets and analyze the data. This introduces unwanted decision latency, which, in turn, destroys the business value of the data. Edge computing addresses this need for immediate processing by leaving the data where it is created by instead moving compute resources next to such data streams. This strategy enables real-time analysis of data as it is being captured and eliminates decision delays. Now the next level of operational efficiency can be realized with real-time decision-making and automation. At the edge: where activity takes place. 

Industry experts are projecting that 50 billion devices will be connected worldwide this year, with the amount of data being generated at the edge slated to increase by over 500% between 2019 and 2025, amounting to a whopping 175 zettabytes worldwide. The tipping point comes in 2025, when, experts project, roughly half of all data will be generated and processed at the edge, soon overtaking the amount of data and applications addressed by centralized cloud and data center computing.

The deluge of edge data opens opportunities for all kinds of actionable insights, whether it’s to correct a factory floor glitch impacting product quality or serving up a product recommendation based on customers’ past buying behavior. On its own, such individual action can have genuine business impact. But when you multiply the possible effects across thousands of locations processing thousands of transactions, there is a huge opportunity to parlay insights into revenue growth, cost reduction, and even business risk mitigation.

“Compute and sensors are doing new things in real time that they couldn’t do before, which gives you new degrees of freedom in running businesses,” explains Denis Vilfort, director of Edge Marketing at HPE. “For every dollar increasing revenue or decreasing costs, you can multiple it by the number of times you’re taking that action at a factory or a retail store — you’re basically building a money-making machine … and improving operations.”

The multiplier effect at work

The rise of edge computing essentially transforms the conventional notion of a large, centralized data center into having more data centers that are much smaller and located everywhere, Vilfort says. “Today we can package compute power for the edge in less than 2% of the space the same firepower took up 25 years ago. So, you don’t want to centralize computing — that’s mainframe thinking,” he explains. “You want to democratize compute power and give everyone access to small — but powerful — distributed compute clusters. Compute needs to be where the data is: at the edge.”

Each location leverages its own insights and can share them with others. These small insights can optimize operation of one location. Spread across all sites, these seemingly small gains can add up quickly when new learnings are replicated and repeated. The following examples showcase the power of the multiplier effect in action:

Foxconn, a large global electronics manufacturer, moved from a cloud implementation to high-resolution cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) enabled at the edge for a quality assurance application. The shift reduced pass/fail time from 21 seconds down to one second; when this reduction is multiplied across a monthly production of thousands of servers, the company benefits from a 33% increase in unit capacity, representing millions more in revenue per month.

A supermarket chain tapped in-store AI and real-time video analytics to reduce shrinkage at self-checkout stations. That same edge-based application, implemented across hundreds of stores, prevents millions of dollars of theft per year.

Texmark, an oil refinery, was pouring more than $1 million a year into a manual inspection process, counting on workers to visually inspect 133 pumps and miles of pipeline on a regular basis. Having switched to an intelligent edge compute model, including the installation of networked sensors throughout the refinery, Texmark is now able to catch potential problems before anyone is endangered, not to mention benefit from doubled output while cutting maintenance costs in half.

A big box retailer implemented an AI-based recommendation engine to help customers find what they need without having to rely on in-store experts. Automating that process increased revenue per store. Multiplied across its thousands of sites, the edge-enabled recommendation process has the potential to translate into revenue upside of more than $350 million for every 1% revenue increase per store. 

The HPE GreenLake Advantage

The HPE GreenLake platform brings an optimized operating model, consistent and secure data governance practices, and a cloudlike platform experience to edge environments — creating a robust foundation upon which to execute the multiplier effect across sites. For many organizations, the preponderance of data needs to remain at the edge, for a variety of reasons, including data gravity issues or because there’s a need for autonomy and resilience in case a weather event or a power outage threatens to shut down operations.

HPE GreenLake’s consumption-based as-a-service model ensures that organizations can more effectively manage costs with pay-per-use predictability, also providing access to buffer capacity to ensure ease of scalability. This means that organizations don’t have to foot the bill to build out costly IT infrastructure at each edge location but can, rather, contract for capabilities according to specific business needs. HPE also manages the day-to-day responsibilities associated with each environment, ensuring robust security and systems performance while creating opportunity for internal IT organizations to focus on higher-value activities.

As benefits of edge computing get multiplied across processes and locations, the advantages are clear. For example, an additional monthly increase in bottom-line profits of $2,000 per location per month is easily obtained by a per-location HPE GreenLake compute service at, say, $800 per location per month. The net profit, then, is $1,200. When that is multiplied across 1,000 locations, the result is an aggregated profit of an additional $1.2 million per month — or $14.4 million per year. Small positive changes across a distributed enterprise quickly multiply, and tangible results are now within reach.  

As companies build out their edge capabilities and sow the seeds to benefit from a multiplier effect, they should remember to:

Evaluate what decisions can benefit from being made and acted upon in real time as well as what data is critical to delivering on those insights so the edge environments can be built out accordingly

Consider scalability — how many sites could benefit from a similar setup and how hard it will be to deploy and operate those distributed environments

Identify the success factors that lead to revenue gains or cost reductions in a specific edge site and replicate that setup and those workflows at other sites

In the end, the multiplier effect is all about maximizing the potential of edge computing to achieve more efficient operations and maximize overall business success. “We’re in the middle of shifting from an older way of doing things to a new and exciting way of doing things,” Vilfort says. “At HPE we are helping customers find a better way to use distributed technology in their distributed sites to enable their distributed enterprise to run more efficiently.”

For more information, visit https://www.hpe.com/us/en/solutions/edge.html

Edge Computing