When I was a CIO, I always dreaded the annual budget season because I knew, somewhere during the process, the CEO, my boss, would ask, “What are we getting for this constantly growing IT department.”

It’s a question that keeps most CIOs up at night when asked to defend IT investments, and it’s one all CIOs should expect to answer, given that IT expenditures can range from 1% to more than 50% of a company’s total revenue.

For most IT departments, this is a very difficult question to answer because the systems that we develop are not used by IT but are used by other departments to increase their sales, reduce their expenses, or be more competitive in the marketplace.

As such, an IT leader’s usual response to this question is a general statement about how IT has implemented projects across the corporation that have achieved corporate strategic objectives. We seldom have any empirical data to back up our claims. So what’s a CIO to do?

IT as a business

There are two ways to address this issue. The first option is to transition from a non-charge out environment, where IT absorbs all development costs, to a charge out environment where all IT costs are assigned to the user departments based on their use of the resources. In this case, IT operates as a zero-cost department and there are no annual budget issues. All IT has to do is tell the user departments how much to budget for IT.

But there are great downsides to this approach that far outweigh its ease of use for IT. First, this process tends to place the automation agenda into the hands of individual departments or profit centers rather than looking at IT and digitalization as an overall company necessity. An example of this would be the development of artificial intelligence systems. The ramifications of this sort of system would affect all departments.

Second, with a charge out system, IT sends each department a monthly bill charging their P&L for a range of services, including development costs, IT infrastructure usage costs, and the dreaded overhead costs. This bill presents a huge challenge to IT to maintain its cordial relationships especially if it is higher than the budget estimates.

Perhaps worse, shifting to charge out, or chargeback, approach treats IT like a business — a system that might sound good on the surface but means that the user department may begin to look to outside IT organizations to develop shadow IT systems that are sold as a cheaper alternative. These systems can only make internal system maintenance more complicated and drive a wedge through the company and its automation agenda.

The better way

The second and better way to approach the problem of IT value is to measure the effectiveness of the IT operation. Why should IT be the only department that is immune from corporate oversight? The advertising department is routinely measured on whether it is increasing corporate sales. HR is constantly being questioned on how its salary system compares to the industry. Manufacturing is always being challenged on its costs and if there are alternative methods and locations. Marketing must assure top management that its brand positioning is the best for the company.

The only way to measure IT is to enforce a requirement that all large scale new or modified system projects are analyzed, after completion, to verify that the objectives were met and the ROI was proven.

In my book The 9 1/2 Secrets of a Great IT Organization the 1/2 secret is the post-implementation audit. I called it a half secret because few companies do it. It should be treated as a full secret, however, because it will assure a much more effective and successful department. But it is not generally done for a number of reasons.

First, conducting a post-implementation audit requires a significant amount of analysis that is very detailed and can span several years. Just gathering the data can be time consuming especially given that many of the project personnel may have changed jobs or even companies since the project was completed.

Next, it cannot be done until at least a year after the system has gone live since no system is fully functional on day one. Sometimes it is hard to convince both IT and the user department that it is worth the time to analyze a completed system because there are more important projects to complete.

Moreover, the user department is often not interested in proving ROI for several reasons. Perhaps they inflated the initial ROI to get the attention of the IT steering committee. A close analysis may discover this practice. Additionally, the ROI may have contained significant headcount reductions that were used to generate a better return. The department may desire to forget these moves once the project is completed.

Of course, it’s not always about the user department. IT may also not want to see the audit done because it may have underestimated the cost or completion date on the original estimate.

The recommended way to complete this audit is to remove the responsibility from the user department and from IT. An independent organization, preferably under the auspices of the financial arm of the company, should conduct the post-implementation audit. This group should have been involved initially in developing the ROI for the project and are in the best place to assure objectivity in the result.

If done this way, the user department will be held to its ROI commitment, IT will be held to its performance objectives, and the CIO will be able to answer the question posed by the CEO about IT investments by saying, for example, “We implemented 17 projects this year which increased sales by 35% and reduced expenses by 14%.” 

Wouldn’t that be a great conversation to have, not only with the CEO but with the entire company. 

Business IT Alignment, IT Leadership

CIO Talvis Love has weathered a tsunami of rapid and significant changes at Baxter International over the past year — with little reprieve in sight.

In late 2021, the med tech company completed the $12.4 billion acquisition of Hillrom, the largest in its history, to expand the company’s digital health and connected care offerings. While Love and his 3,500-person IT team were working on that integration, the company announced in January 2023 plans to spin off its acute care and renal units, which is about a third of the business. One month later, Baxter began changing its operating model and restructuring the remaining company.

“Those are huge, significant changes that require us to pivot and adjust our approach, and tech is the linchpin to all of them,” says Love, senior vice president and CIO of Baxter. So he’s fast-forwarding his plan to embed IT within business teams to make these critical transitions. “The only way we can meet our goals is having the IT and business teams working close together as part of one team.”

Talvis Love, CIO, Baxter International

Baxter International

The need to strengthen business and IT collaboration tops the list of priorities that CEOs have for their CIOs this year, according to Foundry’s 2023 State of the CIO survey. As organizations face macroeconomic uncertainty and rapid changes to market conditions, collaboration between IT and business units are crucial to making those transitions quickly and smoothly.

Security, customer experience, and business and digital transformations also made CEOs’ top priorities lists for their CIOs this year. IT leaders describe how those priorities are playing out in their IT organizations today.

Foundry / CIO.com

Upgrading IT and data security

CIOs always have cyber and information security somewhere on their priority lists, but global turbulence with China and Russia have many CEOs taking notice too. More than a quarter of CEOs want CIOs to upgrade IT and data security to reduce corporate risk in the next 12 months, according to the survey. 

Cybersecurity became a bigger issue this year for Josh Hamit, senior VP and CIO at Altra Federal Credit Union, due in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which touched off warnings about possible Russia-backed hackers stepping up cyberattacks on US targets. As a result, Hamit has brought extra attention to partnering with Altra’s CISO to perfect security fundamentals, cyber hygiene and best practices, and layered defenses.

More likely cyber scenarios have IT leaders increasingly concerned as well. For instance, three out of four global businesses expect an email-borne attack will have serious consequences for their organization in the coming year, according to CSO Online’s State of Email Security report. Hybrid work has led to more email (82% of companies report a higher volume of email in 2022) and that has incentivized threat actors to steal data through a proliferation of social engineering attacks, shifting their focus from targeting the enterprise network itself to capitalizing on the vulnerable behaviors of individual employees. This will require hardening email and collaboration tool defenses and response capabilities, but also securing the data they’re seeking.

Improving the customer experience

Customer and employee experience have become central tenets for successful digital transformation, and about a quarter of CEOs are continuing to invest in technologies and processes that improve the customer journey, according to the State of the CIO survey.

JP Saini’s top initiative at Sunbelt Rentals is “the obsession with our customers,” he says. For Saini, CIO and chief digital and technology officer, this means humanizing the business and technology aspects of each worker’s job and serving each persona — whether that’s the office workers, salespeople, equipment rental specialists in the stores, technicians, or even drivers, he says. Then he dissects each persona-based journey to understand what they go through in doing their daily jobs. That way “you’re designing a [technology or digital process] based on what they need,” to create greater efficiencies, he says.  

JP Saini, chief digital and technology officer, Sunbelt Rentals

Sunbelt Rentals

Leading business and digital transformations

Nearly a quarter of CEOs place business and digital transformations as a top-three priority for their CIOs.

CIO Max Chan’s digital mandate at electronic components distributor Avnet is driving improvement in the supply chain and design chain. As a distributor that sits between its supplier partners and downstream customers, “we have all the demand and supply signals that we can help navigate, and then we can apply that to solve these supply chain challenges that everyone is having,” he says.

Max Chan, CIO, Avnet

Avnet

To that end, Chan’s team is working on machine-to-machine frictionless transactions between suppliers and customers, and creating a single pane of glass for suppliers to solve issues more easily. In the design chain, “we’re creating design capabilities where stakeholders can get together and come up with new designs faster to ultimately help enable customers to go more quickly to market,” he says.

New digital transformation projects will help foster more autonomy for employees at the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County. CIO Charisse Richards wants to empower the business to handle some technical tasks on their own without IT intervention. So she’s prioritized a ServiceNow implementation to automate tasks and give employees more control.  

Charisse Richards, CIO, Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County

Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County

“We have a lot of people that call and email the service desk,” Richards says. “I want to see a reduction in the time that the helpdesk spends in those rote tasks — entering tickets and answering calls — and spend more time with our high-touch customers,” namely judges, she says. “We’re not getting more money for additional staff, so we need to be more efficient.”

Helping reach revenue growth goals

The CIO’s role continues to evolve from focusing only on uptime and availability, to cost-cutting and efficiency gains, to now holding a key position in the C-suite where technology influences every part of the organization. One in five CEOs now place corporate revenue growth as a top priority for their CIOs, according to the survey.

CIO Ajay Sabhlok believes his mandate is “to figure out how to generate revenue” for security technology vendor Rubrik. One example is the company’s lead-to-cash process. Data showed the company wasn’t closing expected orders, which was showing up as lost revenue in quarterly reports, Sabhlok says. So he and his team identified the need for a more advanced opportunity management process that has an engine for more accurate scoring of business leads, automates manual tasks that were holding up orders, and delivers data-driven insights through user-friendly dashboards. The result: more leads converted to sales, which boosted quarterly revenue figures.

Savvy CIOs should already be steps ahead of CEOs on these priorities and shouldn’t wait to be asked, says Baxter’s Love. “Create a deep understanding of what’s driving the business. Understand how your company makes money and how that’s changing over time, and what are the biz leaders’ goals and priorities,” Love says. “Don’t wait to ask to be at the table. Sometimes IT leaders wait to get asked to the party. I say invite yourself.”

IT Leadership

With technology increasingly central to business value, CIOs stepping up to plus-size roles and even making the leap from CIO to CEO is no longer the rare feat it once was. Still, earning that corner office is an achievement few IT leaders can list among their career accomplishments.

As XPO’s first CIO, Mario Harik played a key role in making the logistics company an industry leader and innovation powerhouse. Now, as XPO looks to capitalize on that foundation, Harik’s deep understanding of both IT and the business has made him the perfect candidate to helm the company in its next phase, having become CEO and a member of the board last August.

Here, we discuss Harik’s vision for growth for the logistics firm, how data and IT play a vital role in that, and how CIOs who aspire to be CEOs should approach IT as an innovative means for achieving high returns on invested capital.

Martha Heller: As CEO of XPO, what is your vision for growth?

Mario Harik: XPO completed the spin-off of our asset-light business back in November, and now we are one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers here in North America. Our focus is to grow that business, both in terms of gaining market share, as well as expanding our profits and margins.

We will continue the customer-centric strategy that we put in place when I took over the business nearly a year ago. Technology innovation has been in our DNA since day one of the company, and it continues to be central to who we are today.

Our three major focus areas are to provide best-in-class service to our customers; invest in the business by adding terminals, equipment, and people[ and leverage our technology edge to optimize margins and grow market share.

Ever since we started the company back in 2011, when I was CIO, we’ve been using data to improve our operations. Data will be central to our growth as well.

What are some examples of how you are innovating in your use of data?

When you leverage data in the right way, you can transform how you operate a freight business. We are working on an initiative that uses machine learning to optimize how we move freight through a network of roughly 294 terminals. These are machine learning–based models that look at which trucks need to move where, what we are loading onto the trailers, and how many trailers the trucks should haul to maximize efficiency.

Another example is our SMART platform, a dock efficiency and labor management platform that allows us to predict how much volume we will get in any given terminal and ensure that we are properly staffed to handle the volume.

Finally, we have API-based capabilities that make it easy for us to onboard customers into our systems so that they can do business with us digitally. Customers can quote, book, track, and manage their entire shipment lifecycle online, all with self-service.

How did you move from CIO to CEO of XPO?

Our executive chairman, Brad Jacobs, hired me back when he founded the company in 2011. As the third person on the team, I was part of a small group of people who ran the company during our early days. Over the years, I’ve expanded my role. I’ve held the roles of CIO, chief customer officer, where I ran our global sales team, and in the year before I became CEO, I ran our less-than-truckload business, which is now our sole business in North America after we spun off our asset-light business.

In each of those roles, I was entrenched in how we run our operations, expand our business, grow our profits, and deliver shareholder value along the way.

Before XPO, I had an engineering background. I graduated from MIT and worked in the technology sector, then moved to the waste and recycling industry where I was the CIO for a large asset-light company. The combination of a technology background, working in several different executive positions, and the fact that XPO has always been a technology-driven company, all gave me the opportunity to become CEO.

What advice do you have for CIOs about how to build credibility with the board so that they receive board support when put up for a CEO position?

Be very commercially focused. Does the technology solution you are proposing allow the company to gain market share, provide best-in-class service for customers, or expand margins through operational efficiency? CIOs who aspire to be CEOs should think about their current roles as driving technology innovation that leads to high returns on invested capital. That perspective will resonate with the board.

What new skills did you need to develop as CEO?

As CIO, I was already using the two most important skills of a CEO: a commitment to a high ROI across the entire business, and a focus on people, because people deliver results. CIOs who become CEOs need to expand their focus to the company’s entire employee base, with strong feedback loops to ensure a high level of engagement across the workforce.

As CIO, you are focused on the technology programs you are driving and the desired outcomes. As CEO, the programs you support expand beyond technology to process improvements, sales, service, and every aspect of the business.

As CIO, you are primarily focused internally on your own teams and employees, and whether they have the tools they need to be efficient. As CEO, you have a much broader set of stakeholders, including the media, because you are the public face of the company.  When I became CEO, I did not need to learn new skills as much as expand my areas of impact.

What advice do you have for CIOs who would like to be CEOs?

Familiarize yourself with all aspects of the business and how technology can drive business outcomes. Spend time with your customers to understand the value that your business can offer to them. Understand how to integrate your company’s capabilities with your customers’, and always look at technology with an ROI angle.

Have strong feedback loops. When we deploy technology solutions, we ask a lot of people to give feedback, especially people in the field. The biggest learning I have had in my career is the importance of spending time in the field, in the terminals, and talking to our drivers, dock workers, and frontline supervisors about how we can improve our business. This is essential when you are CEO, because you get a very different vantage point than looking at metrics or talking to executives.

CIOs who become CEOs give their companies a distinct competitive advantage. When you are a CEO with a CIO background, and you understand the inner workings of the technology solutions you are building as well as their intended commercial impact, and you increase your focus on building a world-class senior leadership team, you can have a powerful impact on your P&L.

CEO, CIO, IT Leadership

Lekan Olawoye, Founder and CEO, BPTN & Obsidi, talks about the Obsidi platform and building community and networking for Black technology professionals. To learn more about how Obsidi is working with partners to hire incredible Black talent, there’s Obsidi Recruit: https://obsidi.com/obsidi-recruit/ To join Obsidi, the URL is https://obsidi.com/ or the direct login page is: https://app.obsidi.com

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CIO Leadership Live

Rashik Parmar MBE, the chief executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, discusses a 40-year career in IT, his new role as CEO of the UK’s leading accreditation body, the BCS mission to drive IT professionalism and tech for good, and how the industry can finally move the dial on diversity, equity and inclusion.

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CIO Leadership Live

Andy Callow was appointed Group CDIO at the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire in December 2020, and has spent the last three years unifying the Kettering and Northampton hospitals through one digital strategy, taking strides to adopt cloud, build an RPA Centre of Excellence, and roll-out AI proof-of-concepts.

Then the call came that CEO Simon Weldon was going on sick leave, and looking in-house for his replacement.

“It wasn’t part of my trajectory but I agreed to do it out of loyalty to him,” says Callow. And although it was a departure for him to helm an unfamiliar leadership role, unique opportunities presented themselves like fresh intellectual stimulation, addressing white privilege, and plans to stabilise the hospitals through winter.

Gaining a new perspective

Having started the interim CEO role in September, and appointed an interim successor for his CDIO role, Callow admits he’s still coming to grips with the new structure. In the first few weeks, he spent time preparing the organisation for a challenging winter, opening internal conferences, addressing Black History Month, and hearing from staff around the wards. Knowing that his role is temporary, his focus is on not letting anything slip through the cracks, as he adjusts working at a system level with less hands-on, day-to-day involvement, and more emphasis on being a facilitator for outcomes.

It’s still early days and Callow is unsure if he’d pursue a CEO role in future, but he’s enthused about a new perspective.

“The technical challenge of my substantive role as CDIO provides a lot of intellectual stimulation, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find similar stimulation in the new challenges I find on my plate now,” he says. “What I didn’t appreciate is that I’d also get that buzz from some really tricky problems you’re trying to deal with, which are wider organisational issues. I’ve been involved in conversations about the money for a while, but now I’ve got accountability for that to happen, rather than being part of the solution.”

This leap into the unknown can be unsettling, even for the most experienced leaders. Callow casts his mind back to earlier in his career when a series of promotions pushed him further into leadership roles and away from his love of coding. A “grieving process” ensued, as he moved away from a skillset he had built his reputation on, but he believes it won’t happen this time around.

“I’ve not felt that I’m losing all the techie stuff,” says Callow, formerly the head of technology delivery at NHS UK and programme director at NHS Digital. “I’ve thought that this is actually helping people do their best work in a different guise.”

A CIO’s leadership principles

Callow attributes his transparent and reflective leadership style to workplace experience and his own development, and cites Daniel Pink’s Drive as an influencing factor in letting teams become autonomous and take ownership, continuously improve, and buy into the mission of the NHS.

Callow also believes in the value to reflect on past achievements in order to tackle future obstacles and land key messages in meetings. The weekly notes he writes have also become a routine that helps crystallize successes and challenges, but also prompts new conversations with colleagues and third parties, helping to make sense of the more troubling weeks.

“I look back [at my notes] and say, ‘There was that situation’ or, ‘That conversation was fantastic’. Or, actually, ‘There’s a situation I need to put more effort into progressing’, or, ‘There’s a person I need to give more time to.’ If no one else read them, I’d still do them because it’s a discipline to look back on and think about what you’re doing.”

Callow keeps what he calls shadow notes of circumstances he’d rather not make public, and attributes this activity to the importance of being open, a key NHS principle that’s pinned to his wall at his office in Kettering, in North Northamptonshire. He takes a similar approach to Twitter, saying the social media platform doesn’t have to be about mudslinging, but an opportunity to forge connections. He recalls a time he Tweeted about the possibility of machine learning being used to improve bed management, an idea that would eventually spark online conversations, NHSX funding, and a proof-of-concept on bed scheduling with AI start-up faculty.

“That has now gone into a product that’s available, and that code is open-sourced on GitHub,” he says.

A CIO’s guide to addressing white privilege

Ranked in the top five of this year’s CIO UK 100, Callow drew high praise from the judges for a proactive approach to tackling diversity, equity and inclusion.

Last autumn, he bought 10 copies of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and invited the 300 staff across the digital directorate of both hospitals to borrow them. He also bought each member of the board a copy of the book. Later that year, Callow hosted discussions about tackling diversity and discrimination with the directorate and trust board, leading to a joint board development session on how to address racism.

The University Hospitals of Northamptonshire would go on to launch a new leadership programme for Black and Asian staff in the spring, while Callow has since recruited up to 25 board members to volunteer their time for career coaching sessions to these same professionals. Callow himself offers two hours a month.

“A lot of colleagues don’t have access to somebody who can have those kind of conversations, particularly if you’ve come from overseas and you haven’t built up a network,” says Callow, who is executive sponsor of both Trust REACH (Race, Equality and Cultural Heritage) staff networks. But he admits that addressing such issues can only begin with leaders getting uncomfortable, and tackling subjects that may be beyond their expertise.

“Reading White Fragility was a pivotal moment,” he says. “It made me feel more equipped to have some of these conversations.”

2023 is about stability and the next job

Callow says he is most proud of his automated coding project of endoscopy patient episodes, whereby the Trust has used AI to automatically code 87% of monthly endoscopy activity, with an average accuracy of primary diagnosis and procure assignment of 94%—approximately the same as a human coder.

He acknowledges there are challenges ahead for his successor Dan Howard to the CDIO post, from integrating digital strategies to rolling out electronic patient records, but as interim CEO, Callow is looking at the bigger picture of improving clinical collaboration, managing rising costs, and supporting staff through a difficult winter.

“We need to strip out some of those things that are no longer needed [from Covid],” he says. “And that’s hard when you’ve still got your emergency department full, ambulances queuing, and wards where people wait a long time to be discharged.”

Callow believes that CIOs are equally equipped to take the CEO role as other board members, and admits he would be more interested in a deputy CEO position than six months ago. Yet a return to familiar territory beckons.

From mid-January, Callow will become CDIO at the University Hospitals of Nottingham, a move influenced in part by a new challenge as well as a shorter commute. “There’s a lot I can contribute to their digital progression and I like the established links with the university that I can be part of,” he said. “The focus for the new year will be on getting up to speed with the NUH CDIO role and strong delivery.”

Diversity and Inclusion, IT Leadership, IT Management

Nvidia used to be just a graphics chip vendor, but CEO Jensen Huang wants you to know that the company is now a full-stack computing service provider, and that he may be an artificial construct.

With such lofty ambitions, Nvidia is moving into the cloud, delivering both hardware and software as-a-service. At the company’s GTC Fall conference last week, Huang showed off a few new toys for gamers, but he spent most of his keynote speech outlining the tools Nvidia offers CIOs to accelerate computing in the enterprise.

There was hardware for industrial designers in the new Ada Lovelace RTX GPU; a chip to steer self-driving vehicles while entertaining passengers; and the IGX edge computing platform for autonomous systems.

But it wasn’t only hardware. Software (for drug discovery, biology research, language processing, and building metaverses for industry) and services including consulting, cybersecurity, and software- and infrastructure-as-a-service in the cloud were there too.

Huang punctuated his keynote with demos of a single processor performing photo-realistic, real-time rendering of scenes with natural-looking lighting effects, an AI that can seamlessly fill in missing frames to smooth and speed up animation, and a way of training large language models for AI that allow them to respond to prompts in context-dependent ways. The quality of those demos made it at least somewhat plausible when, in a videoconference with journalists after the keynote, the on-screen Huang quipped, “Don’t be surprised if I’m an AI.”

Joking aside, CIOs will want to pay serious attention to Nvidia’s new cloud services play, as it could enable them to deliver new capabilities across their organizations without increasing equipment budgets. In an age when hardware costs are likely to climb and the industry’s ability to pack more transistors into a given area of silicon is stalling, challenges still exist for many.

“Moore’s law is dead,” said Huang, referencing Gordon Moore’s 1965 statement that the number of transistors on microchips will double about every two years. “And the idea that a chip is going to go down in cost over time, unfortunately, is a story of the past.”

Many factors are contributing to the troubles of chip makers like Nvidia, including difficulty obtaining vital tooling and the rising cost of raw materials such as neon gas (supplies of which have been affected by the war in Ukraine) and the silicon wafers chips are made from.

“A 12-inch wafer is a lot more expensive today than it was yesterday,” Huang said. “And it’s not a little bit more expensive, it is a ton more expensive.”

Nvidia’s response to those rising costs is to develop software optimized so customers get the most out of its processors, helping redress a price-performance balance. “The future is about accelerated full stack,” he said. “Computing is not a chip problem. Computing is a software and chip problem, a full stack challenge.”

Fine-tuning NeMo

To underline that point, Nvidia announced it’s already busy optimizing its NeMo large language model training software for its new H100 chip, which has just entered full production. The H100 is the first chip based on the Hopper architecture that Nvidia unveiled at its Spring GTC conference in March. Other deep learning frameworks being optimized for the H100 include Microsoft DeepSpeed, Google JAX, PyTorch, TensorFlow, and XLA, Nvidia said.

Nvidia Hopper

NeMo also has the distinction of being one of the first two Nvidia products to be sold as a cloud-based service, the other being Omniverse.

The NeMo Large Language Model Service enables developers to train or tailor the responses of large language models built by Nvidia for processing or predicting responses in human languages and computer code. The related BioNeMo LLM Service does something similar for protein structures, predicting their biomolecular properties.

Nvidia’s latest innovation in this area is to enable enterprises to take a model built from billions of parameters and fine-tune it using a few hundred data points, so a chatbot can provide responses more appropriate to a particular context. For example, if a chatbot asked, “What are the rental options?” it might respond, “You can rent a modem for $5 per month,” if it were tuned for an ISP; “We can offer economy, compact and full-size cars,” for a car rental company; or, “We have units from studios to three bedrooms,” for a property management agency.

Such tuning, Nvidia said, can be performed in hours, whereas training a model from scratch can take months. Tuned models, once created, can also be called up using a “prompt token” combined with the original model. Enterprises can run the models on premises or in the cloud or, starting in October, access them in Nvidia’s cloud through an API.

Omniverse Cloud

Nvidia’s Omniverse platform is the foundation of the other suite of cloud services the company offers.

Huang described the platform as having three key features. One is the ability to ingest and store three-dimensional information about worlds: “It’s a modern database in the cloud,” Huang said. Another is its ability to connect devices, people or software agents to that information and to one another. “And the third gives you a viewport into this new world, another way of saying it’s a simulation engine,” Huang said.

Those simulations can be of the real world, in the case of enterprises creating digital twins of manufacturing facilities or products, or of fictional worlds used to train sensor networks (with Omniverse Replicator), robots (with Isaac Sim), and self-driving vehicles (with Drive Sim) by feeding them simulated sensor data.

There’s also Omniverse Nucleus Cloud, which provides a shared Universal Scene Description store for 3D scenes and data that can be used for online collaboration, and Omniverse Farm, a scale-out tool for rendering scenes and generating synthetic data using Omniverse.

Industrial giant Siemens is already using the Omniverse platform to develop digital twins for manufacturing, and Nvidia said the company is now working on delivering those services to its customers using Omniverse Cloud.

Omniverse Farm, Replicator and Isaac Sim are already available in containers for enterprises to deploy on Amazon Web Services’ compute cloud instances equipped with Nvidia GPUs, but enterprises will have to wait for general availability of the other Omniverse Cloud applications as Nvidia managed services. The company is now taking applications for early access.

Nvidia is also opening up new channels to help enterprises consume its new products and services. Management consulting provider Booz Allen Hamilton offers enterprises a new cybersecurity service it calls Cyber Precog, built on Nvidia Morpheus, an AI cybersecurity processing framework, while Deloitte will offer enterprise services around Nvidia’s Omniverse software suite, the companies announced at GTC.

As Nvidia works with consultants and systems integrators to roll out its SaaS and hardware rental offerings, that doesn’t mean it’s going to stop selling hardware outright. Huang noted that some organizations, typically start-ups or those that only use their infrastructure sporadically, prefer to rent, while large, established enterprises prefer to own their infrastructure.

He likened the process of training AI models to operating a factory. “Nvidia is now in the factory business, the most important factory of the future,” he says. Where today’s factories take in raw materials and put out products, he said, “In the future, factories are going to have data come in, and what comes out is going to be intelligence or models.”

But Nvidia needs to package its hardware and software factories for CIOs in different ways, Huang said: “Just like factories today, some people would rather outsource their factory, and some would rather own it. It just depends on what business model you’re in.”

CIO, Cloud Management

By Viki Paige, Head of Broadcom Software Marketing

As recently announced, Hock Tan, Broadcom Inc.’s President and CEO, will be also directly overseeing the operations of the Broadcom Software Group. Now that Hock is leading Broadcom Software, we sat down with him to learn more about his career, personal philanthropy and areas of achievement.

Q: Having grown up in Malaysia, tell us a bit about how you got to the U.S. and what it was like to become an American citizen?

I came to the United States in 1971 on a scholarship to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  I was both fortunate and proud to attend MIT. The American college and post-graduate educational system has always been a magnet for aspiring students around the globe. Like so many world-class U.S. colleges and universities, MIT has opened many doors for me, and made it possible for me to live the American Dream. I graduated from MIT in 1975 with both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, and then worked as a research engineer at Union Carbide Corporation for several years before attending Harvard Business School where I received my MBA in 1979. It was then in 1990 that I became an American Citizen.

Q: How have these defining moments shaped who you are and how you lead?   

I have the best job in the world as CEO of Broadcom because I get to work alongside some of the smartest and most creative people on the planet. Success is a team effort, and at Broadcom, we know that our talented workforce is our most valuable asset which is why we continue to take steps to ensure that we will have access to bright and hardworking talent in the future. The Broadcom Foundation, which funds science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs for middle school students inside and outside the U.S., is just one example of how Broadcom is working to encourage the next generation to take an interest in areas of study that will be critical to the continued growth of both our company as well as our country.

Q: What was your career path to becoming Broadcom’s CEO?

My path to becoming CEO of Broadcom was not a straight line. After getting my MBA, I began my career in the auto industry with General Motors, before moving to the food and beverage industry and spending a few years at PepsiCo. From there, I held leadership roles at Hume Industries, in the building materials space, at PacVen Investments, a venture capital firm, as well as at Commodore International, best known for its personal computers.

I made the transition into semiconductors when I joined Integrated Circuit Systems (ICS) in 1994. Five years later, I moved from being CFO into the CEO role after leading a management buyout. It was while working at ICS that I first had the opportunity to collaborate directly with the U.S. Department of Defense, gaining a security clearance as part of the work we did on the radar systems for the Patriot anti-missile program.

We eventually sold ICS to Integrated Device Technology in 2005 and one year later, I was hired by the private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts and Silver Lake Partners to become the CEO of Avago Technologies, which was a spin-out of the legacy Hewlett Packard semiconductors team. Avago later acquired Broadcom Corporation in 2016 and rebranded itself into the “Broadcom” that you all know today. I never would have predicted that I’d become CEO of this great company when I began my professional journey and consider myself fortunate to be where I am today.

Q: What personal initiatives and causes are important to you?

As I have had much good fortune in my life, it is really important to me to give back to the community and to others. Autism research is a cause that I’m deeply involved in and affects me personally as the father of two children with autism. My family has made substantial gifts to Harvard, MIT and Cornell to fund programs to improve the work-life of young adults with disabilities as well as to support research in the areas of neurodiversity.

Q: What has your greatest professional achievement been to-date?

I am very proud of the work that we have done at Broadcom in the 15+ years since I joined the company. The introduction of industry-pioneering products, such as optical navigation in PCS to the first Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM combo chip for mobile phones has enabled the company to achieve great success and to continue to be at the forefront of leading-edge innovation in technology. I look forward to welcoming the VMware team when the transaction closes to advance our strategy to build the world’s leading infrastructure technology company.

And if you haven’t taken a look, please visit https://Reimaginingsoftware.com, our recently launched website that contains useful materials about the VMware transaction and other relevant information.

About Viki Paige:

Broadcom Software

Viki is responsible for end-to-end marketing for Broadcom Software, ensuring that marketing strategies are developed and executed across the organization. Viki has extensive experience in product/solutions marketing, software solutions, and product strategy.

CEO, IT Leadership