Global PC manufacturer Lenovo has upward of 70,000 employees worldwide, delivering round-the-clock IT services, and Arthur Hu, the company’s SVP and global CIO—and as of April 2022, also the Services & Solutions Group CTO—is in a constant state of getting the most out of related teams, management and himself to cement partnerships, and achieve optimum performance.

Leveraging invention, creating new services, R&D and capabilities are integral to strengthening the business, and as his overlapping roles evolve, the underlining discipline for success is being resilient, based on long-term planning to build health, or, as Hu calls it, have “shock absorbers.” “It’s important to widen the aperture of the lens in which you look at the world,” he says.

In hindsight, the company’s response to the pandemic resulted in better architecture that allowed capacity to meet any eventuality. “It’s about how can you respond better and tolerate the unknowns,” he says. But there’s a balance to not just find, but constantly monitor, interpret and question what is in balance and why—it’s never a “set and forget” framework just because the height of the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. “One of the other broader business lessons coming out of it is understanding that sheer efficiency, or efficiency taken to an extreme, may not be good,” he says. “That means you are optimized, but with a very narrow focus.”

With Hu’s CTO role in particular, there is a distinct and broad focus on the dynamics of the external market.

“In the CTO role, I’m spending more time with our partners and customers because they are excellent providers of input and intelligence on what is happening and where things are likely headed,” he says. “I think the external to internal ratio of time spent is much higher on the CTO side because it’s a very business-leaning and business-oriented role.”

Foundry’s John Gallant recently spoke with Hu about adaptation into his various roles, and the methods involved to maximize potential without compromise. Here are some edited excerpts of that conversation. Watch the full video below for more insights.

On the reshaped CIO role: CIOs are now part of the shaping and evolving of future business models, whether it’s about how to extend the core business, or incubate and help think about what a future growth engine might be. CIOs also represent and advocate for user experience more. Because you have more online channels, and even offline channels—or traditional ways of interacting—they’re being augmented with technology intelligence. So the CIO naturally has data on all those services, products, or offerings that are being used, and understands what customers and users say about the company in the real world. Each of those things is valuable independently, but they’re even more powerful when put together. Another area is in participating around environmental, social, and governance (ESG). This is definitely farther afield than a more traditional tech-based role. But the amount of data required to formulate and execute thoughtful ESG initiatives is quite large. And, again, this makes the CIO a natural stakeholder and partner with the business teams as companies invest more in this space.

On priorities: For CIOs today, it starts with a recognition that the computing and IT environment is more complex than ever. It’s critical to find solutions that are simple as possible, and easy to use, scale, and adapt as circumstances change. What’s an important corollary to this is value capture. Digital transformation has been on the agenda for many years and companies have put their wallets where their mouths are, investing billions of dollars. So if you think about the journey, when we first started, a CIO could ask for time to show results. But as months turn into quarters and quarters turn into years, then you actually have to deliver otherwise you risk stranded investments and disenchantment from the business. So first recognize the obvious value of the technology you’ve invested in. At the same time, build resiliency against volatility and uncertainty. Then it’s about building enterprise agility. Not just agile software teams, but ways to help turn the company into one that can go quicker at speed. In my CIO role, I have to help the company build a new set of infrastructure processes, tools, and system. Our partners need to be along with us in the journey. As you go from there, the discussion naturally follows. If any IT or CIO team is saddled with, “Go make the SaaS happen,” I think that’s an indicator that the business is thinking the wrong way. It’s key to understand where the journey is, how cloud computing capabilities can help you accelerate, and then make sure it’s together with the business.

On blending roles: I started in the CTO role for the Solutions and Services Group (SSG) earlier this year. Stepping back, I think when I started in the CIO role, topics such as digital transformation and business agility were top of mind. And as time went on, as I was able to work with the team and deliver for the company, we were always looking at how to bring together the technology fluency with the business insight. It’s that duality where, as we thought about the future and our SSG, we needed more of that blend. So the additional CTO role is a natural extension of that. There are three things that form the theory of this case. As we were thinking about why this could make sense, one is that as CIO, I was already building capabilities. Second is delivering services. Third is how that creates business opportunities. On creating and building capabilities, I was already doing that for Lenovo. And the nature of those capabilities was to think about how we quote for our salespeople, make our partner portal frictionless, and make our supplier portal great for collaboration with our extended ecosystem of suppliers.

On self development: I went through an exercise of writing down my assumptions of what makes a good CIO and what I’ve learned as Lenovo’s CIO over the past five years. Then I explicitly tried to either validate or cross them out as I went along because I knew it’d be dangerous to assume I’m just picking up another IT team. That has helped me accelerate the learning journey by not making hidden assumptions. The CIO role is being a natural advocate for experience. In the CTO role, there’s a higher premium and requirement that we’re externally facing. I’m spending more time with our partners and customers because they are excellent providers of input and intelligence on what’s happening and where things are likely headed.

CIO, Cloud Management, IT Leadership, Roles

As companies start to adapt data-first strategies, the role of chief data officer is becoming increasingly important, especially as businesses seek to capitalize on data to gain a competitive advantage. A role historically focused on data governance and compliance, the scope of responsibilities for CDOs has since grown, pushing them to become strategic business leaders, according to data from IDC.

According to the survey, 80% of the top KPIs that CDOs report focusing on are business oriented. The top five KPIs for CDOs include operational efficiency, data privacy and protection, productivity and capacity, innovation and revenue, and customer satisfaction and success. And 87% of CXOs said that “becoming a more intelligent enterprise is their top priority by 2025,” with 52% of CDOs reporting to a business leader.

If you’re looking to embark on an executive career as a CDO, you’ll need a strong resume. But you don’t need to feel intimidated when writing your executive-level CV; you just need to do a little research. Here are tips from technology resume experts on how to write the ideal resume for chief data officer positions, along with one shining example.

1. Focus on transformation

Data has become a top priority for businesses large and small, and while some companies have already established a digital strategy, many of them are just getting started. As CDO you’ll likely be tasked with some type of digital or data transformation, whether it’s a complete overall of a company’s data practices, or helping a company improve or advance their data strategy to the next level.

“When preparing a resume for CDO roles, each candidate must consider their audience, as different companies include a range of duties into each role. However, the ability to drive digital technology transformation is going to be the focus,” says Stephen Van Vreede, resume expert at IT Tech Exec.

To demonstrate your ability to lead data transformations, you’ll want to highlight relevant skills such as business strategy, strategic planning, business operations, data governance, goal alignment, data security, data sourcing, technology roadmap development, change management, communication, and team leadership.

Analytics, Careers, Data Management, IT Leadership, Resumes

By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

Modernization has become a hot-button topic across the tech and business landscape. With ongoing advancements in cloud technology and the seemingly unlimited potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies, many organizations are eager to digitally transform and modernize their operations and software applications. In fact, 80% of IT decision-makers say their companies plan to have modernized more than half of their custom applications before the end of 2022.

With a significant push toward infrastructure modernization, many organizations have hired Chief Modernization Officers (CMOs) to help navigate the complexities of this undertaking. But many still question the need for a CMO when they already have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in house. While most C-suite level positions are clearly defined, the CMO and CTO’s roles and responsibilities are uniquely intertwined and often confused as being the same — but this is not the case. For companies looking to modernize their infrastructure, it is important to recognize the differences between a CTO and CMO and understand what each position brings to the table and why both are essential to achieve true modernization.

Defining the roles of CTOs and CMOs Starts with defining modernization 

The CTO and CMO positions are often confused because the word modernization has different meanings for different people. To many business leaders, modernization is about driving evolution and the creation of new business models by implementing innovative technologies and methodologies to improve operations. This, however, is a better definition for the process of digital transformation and is chiefly what CTOs work to achieve. 

The CTO’s role is to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies and practices and understand how processes can be changed and improved through their implementation. A CTO is focused on creating great experiences and offerings for customers, clients, and partners of an organization, taking a pragmatic approach to improve business outcomes, often leading with a “rip and replace” mentality for underutilized or underperforming technology.

Modernization, on the other hand, is a more internal and holistic process that focuses on understanding and preparing a company’s infrastructure, technology, and products to succeed in a fast-changing, digital world without upending a company’s current operating model. A successful modernization operation is a continuum and CMOs have the expertise and attention to detail to constantly analyze operations, uncover opportunities to optimize, and ensure modernization projects align with business and customer goals. CMOs consider the company’s business operations as a whole, not only evaluating the time and resources needed to achieve a particular modernization project but also how it will affect operations along all departments and whether it is worth the effort. 

Balancing the two to create true modernization

Often, large-scale transformation projects are unsuccessful because organizations fail to recognize that true modernization requires continuous transformation and a wholly pragmatic approach to modernizing tools and processes. While CTOs bring exciting and innovative techniques and tools to the table, CMOs bring the rationality and necessity required for projects to succeed.

In the end, businesses that are successful in their modernization ventures understand that it is not a matter of one or the other when it comes to CMOs and CTOs — but, rather, a balancing of the two. By fusing the creativity and forward-thinking mindset of a CTO together with the pragmatic, strategic approaches of a CMO, companies can stay on the cutting edge of innovation while bringing true modernization to their operations.

To learn how Rocket Software’s suite of technologies can help simplify and streamline your organization’s modernization efforts, visit the Rocket Software modernization page.

Digital Transformation

“As a first-time CIO, there are things you’ve never done before, and conversations you’ve never had before, at this level, in this role,” recounts Sarah Cockrill, who is one year into the director of digital strategy and information technology position at Canterbury University, in Kent, England.

“You almost don’t want to say to your boss, ‘I don’t know how to do this’, because you’ve just had an interview where you’ve taught them how amazing you are, and how you can do the job.”

Cockrill’s story is a familiar tale for first-time CIOs burgeoning with experience and ideas, but are still learning the ropes in an unfamiliar role.

The changing CIO role means new skills are required

Technology leaders today are expected to be business leaders first and IT leaders second, articulating what technology can do for the organization top-down and bottom-up.

And yet, despite past proclamations of IT being confined to a back-office order-taker, some suggest this is how it should have always been; William Synnott and William Gruber first coined the chief information officer term in their 1981book, Information Resource Management: Opportunities and Strategies for the 1980s, arguing at the time that IT was strategic, not simply a means to reduce costs, and that employing a C-level technology executive could offer a competitive advantage.

With IT arguably more influential and less of a commodity than at any point over the last 20 years, Sainsbury’s Group CIO Phil Jordan believes incoming CIOs need to be business-savvy influencers, capable of leading teams and demystifying technology rather than the technical project managers of the past.

“I would put more emphasis in business acumen, commercial understanding, data analytics…and understanding how the business is going to be changed by technology…than I would on the skill set when I started, which was about supplier management, project management…and technical delivery history,” says Jordan.

Dominic Howson, CIO at waste management firm Viridor and Next CIO UK judge, sees today’s CIO as needing to be a ‘souped-up’ business analyst, understanding business processes, knowing how technology can impact different business functions, and having a degree of financial nous.

“Ten years ago, the CIO was the back-office guy or girl who kept the lights on and worried about backups, availability and capacity,” says Howson. “Now it’s the role of business leader [who is] front and centre of the company’s strategy.”

Yet there’s an understanding, too, that the CIO should be a people leader, first and foremost. Natalie Whittlesey, director at recruitment firm Investigo, says recruiters want to see strong communication and people skills.

“They often spend as much time talking about personality traits as experience requirements,” she says of clients, adding having the ability to influence, having a low-ego, being collaborative, and able to inspire people and take them on a journey.

“Good EQ and personal traits are incredibly important, but they’re also the most difficult to nurture as people often have traits that remain relatively static over time. So the ability to self-reflect, seek feedback and self-develop is also valuable,” she adds.

Whittlesey also says that the COVID-19 pandemic, which led many leaders including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to say that digital transformation initiatives were accelerated from years to months, pushed CIOs to be more product and customer focused.

“I spoke with a CEO last week who lost 70% of his business revenue within weeks, as the vast majority of his field workforce were confined to [working from] home,” says Whittlesey. “He couldn’t rely on other regions to make up the numbers, as they were impacted too. This required quick thinking by his leadership team to limit losses. It also resulted in a rapid shift towards escalating digital revenues.”

There’s no rule to CIO experience

A 2021 Hays report found that most CIOs surveyed held 15 to 20 years of experience in a related field before becoming a CIO, and about a quarter reported having 10 to 15 years before making the same leap.

“I had 17 years of experience before I undertook my first CIO role, but it’s dependent on the individual and the organization,” says Stantec group IT director Dave Roberts. “Not all CIO roles are equal, and it’s important to differentiate between what would have been called an IT or software development manager, or being called a CIO or a CTO in smaller organizations.”

Whittlesey believes recruiters and hiring managers are now more interested in experience over the last five years rather than the last 15 to 20, owing to more diverse career pathways and the continued pace of change in the technology market.

“If a client requests more than 10 years of senior experience, I tend to challenge them,” she says. “Many people—particularly women—move into IT via a sideways step. They might get involved with a technology project or program, get spotted by the CIO, CTO, CDIO and get encouraged to apply for a technology role, for example.

“This might mean they had five to 10 years in HR, operations or marketing before moving across to IT, where they thrive and get promoted quickly.”

Whittlesey admits that experience can give business leaders a sense of security, as proven CIOs will have the battle scars to handle any number of situations, but ultimately recommends leaving the issue of experience with the hiring manager.

How to prepare for a first-time CIO role

Preparing for the CIO role can take many forms, from volunteering for initiatives outside IT and developing through secondments, to taking on non-executive director (NED) positions.

Viridor’s Howson recommends getting outside your organization—and outside your comfort zone—to build a strong breadth of understanding.

“Go to customer-led vendor presentations,” he says. “Understand how other businesses utilise technology. Work outside of IT, in the business on a secondment. While in IT, get experience in every part of the function: service, infrastructure, development, support, architecture.”

Cockrill believes her time working as a business analyst was beneficial, as she got visibility of projects being delivered into HR, finance and other departments. Speaking of her own ascent into the CIO position, she says she had two streams of a working plan.

“One was making sure I took any opportunity in the workplace I could to broaden my skills,” she says, adding she would often volunteer for opportunities with her director while looking externally.

“The other was I started a school governor, then I did chair of resources. That gave me some of the leadership experience that I wasn’t able to get at work. Working with the BCS, or doing speaking events…all added to my knowledge and helped me create that rounded CV that I could say I’m ready. If you’re being interviewed for a CIO, and all you know is your technology…and you can’t talk about it in that bigger picture, there’s a gap.”

Whittlesey argues that clients are less interested in degrees or MBAs these days, even if Roberts says the latter can teach would-be leaders wider business principles and leadership skills. Instead, she says, hiring managers want to see evidence of credibility and commercial understanding; an ability to speak the language of the business, a willingness to change, evidence of personal growth, and proof of delivering technology programs across business.

Then there’s the small issue of visibility in order to get that elusive opportunity.

“Make sure you’re in people’s line of sight,” says Howson. “Think about your profile. How can you get more exposure to the decision makers. Find a way of being part of the bigger conversations. And think about your personal brand in all meetings and interactions.”

Overcoming imposter syndrome and the first 90 days as CIO

Despite the seniority of the CIO role, those who occupy it can still suffer from imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence. In particular, new CIOs may wrestle with that nagging question: Am I good enough?

“Many people talk about imposter syndrome, but it’s only through experience that you gain the necessary skills to be an effective leader,” says Stantec’s Roberts, a judge on Next CIO UK.

“Imposter syndrome can also be an issue when someone looks to break out of a particular industry and start a leadership role in a different type of organization,” he says. “It’s the fear of the unknown that will sometimes hold people back. Embrace new challenges. They’ll always provide a valuable lesson and the experience will help you improve and develop.”

Whittlesey adds: “Try to find reasons to rule yourself into an opportunity instead of ruling yourself out. It doesn’t matter if you don’t succeed. It’s better to be in with a chance than not to apply at all.”

Once in role, new CIOs must think of how they approach those first 90 days. Howson, Whittlesey, Roberts and Cockrill recommend learning about the business, its objectives and the strengths and weaknesses of your team, as well as developing internal relationships and benchmarking your position to gauge future progress.

Howson says CIOs should discover what the business thinks of IT, align their department’s objectives to those of the business, and discover shadow IT and tech spend not accounted for in the budget. He also calls for CIOs to understand their contractual positions, and ‘kick the tires’ on everything from compliance to cybersecurity, and find out where the quick wins are to gain early kudos.

The new CIO should also build networks internally and externally to stave off loneliness, says Cockrill, who says you can’t have the same relationship with team members as you would with peers, and that CIOs are naturally segregated from other senior leaders in HR, estates and finance. “Be bold and don’t be afraid of failure,” says Howson. “If you’re in a position to make the jump, the chances are you know your stuff.”

Careers, CIO

What’s in a name? For Chris Bedi, who joined ServiceNow as CIO in September 2015, a lot: the company recently gave him a new title, chief digital information officer, and rebranded his IT team as “digital technology.”

“The rebranding is an acknowledgement of how the role has changed,” he says, but is also intended to reinforce various mindsets that he wants the whole team to adopt.

When Bedi joined the company, his primary mission was to enable “scale-for-growth.” Back then, he says, the company had around 2,800 employees, a quarter of the headcount today, and was still seen as an IT solutions company as its other workflow management products hadn’t yet taken off.

His role included the familiar responsibilities for IT infrastructure, network connectivity, cybersecurity, delivering collaboration and communication tools for existing staff, and provisioning them for new employees so they have what they need to be productive from day one.

Another big component of the job back then, he says, was keeping the information needed to run the business “at our fingertips.” These analytics tools were basic apps, but not trivial, he says.

AI and machine learning were only just beginning to creep into discussion of analytics in 2015, and the ServiceNow team devoted to the technology was tiny.

“At the time, we had a team of three people focused on AI and ML who were largely — this is 2015, you have to remember — just running experiments on AI and ML,” Bedi says. “Nobody knew what the heck to do with it; nobody had really bought into it. But these were data scientists tinkering with data, producing some insights.”

That’s changed in the intervening years, of course.

Digital brain

One milestone for the analytics organization came in late 2018, with a shift in focus away from dashboards and KPIs and toward becoming a digital brain. “We toyed around with the name: digital brain, central nervous system — for the organization,” he says. “We said our mission should become making sure anything that has a rating, recommendation or forecast in our organization is enabled by an AI and ML recommendation.”

That mission soon evolved again, into helping every persona make more effective decisions, and now results in over 3 million recommendations per day, he says. “Surfacing AI and ML recommendations is great, but unless we’re also prescriptive in terms of the actions we want people to take, and give them a closed loop, a human in the loop, to tell us whether those suggestions were useful, we’re missing the mark.”

The way the analytics team analyses its own performance has also evolved, from a count of monthly active users of the analytics products to a focus on their satisfaction with the recommendations they are receiving. “It has to be, ‘What’s the percentage of actions recommended versus actions taken?’ That was a big shift,” he says.

Bedi’s responsibilities have grown in other ways too. While his team isn’t responsible for the Now Platform infrastructure on which the company’s SaaS offering runs, it does maintain the Now Learning training platform and  ServiceNow Impact, a customer success app for helping clients track their digital transformations.

Cybersecurity is no longer just about protecting corporate IT infrastructure, but also the company’s revenue-generating cloud, and even ensuring that customers are using the company’s services securely to mitigate reputational risk.

And scaling the company has moved from simply supporting more employees to getting the most from existing staff. “The purpose of this is to drive an incredible employee experience that helps our employees be more engaged and productive,” he says. “If I zoom out, the role has evolved from largely internal, scale and risk mitigation, to very externally focused, critical to driving our strategy, critical to driving growth, and looked at as a lot more strategic than in 2015.”

Embracing citizen developers

Bedi says he’s a voracious reader, but also has a strong bias for action when it comes to picking up new skills. “Let’s go do it and figure it out as we go,” he says. “People use the term ‘fail fast’ but I like the term ‘learn fast’ better.”

That was his approach when it came to the adoption of low-code development tools internally at ServiceNow.

“We were having one of those debates with no finish line around citizen development,” he says. Those in favor wanted to see the benefits right away; those against feared an accumulation of technology debt in the organization.

In situations like these, he says, there are three choices as CIOs. “You can try to block it — but you’re never going to win that battle,” he says. “You can ignore it. That’s what you’re doing today, whether you know it or not, because people are out there already with point solutions. The only logical choice left, and this is a conversation I had with my team, is to embrace it. So, we embraced it.”

ServiceNow’s employees have embraced it too, with over 400 of them active as citizen developers, 100 applications in service, and another 100 applications due to go live in the next couple of months, Bedi says.

As progress gains momentum, he has some advice for other CIOs getting ready to embrace citizen development in their enterprise. First, he says, keep governance lightweight yet sufficient. One way to do this is to provide trusted data sets for things citizen developers are sure to want, which must be done properly to avoid things breaking — something like an organization hierarchy and an employee directory for apps involving approvals, for example, or a cost-center hierarchy for anything involving spending.

Second, he says, avoid discouraging new developers by limiting the reasons for refusal of a project: no duplicate apps (although replacing an app with a better one is allowed); no getting in over your head (so if an interesting idea looks likely to be too complex for the citizen developer, his team members may step in to help); and no handling of overly sensitive data (but if the idea is good, his team may take on the project).

His third recommendation is to make it easy for people to get started. His team did this by providing an introductory class — “It was short enough where people wouldn’t be discouraged,” he says — and holding office hours where citizen developers can call in for help.

Finally, he advises, amplify success by celebrating the citizen developers’ applications. “I have a selfish interest in this program taking off,” he says, “because they’re helping with one of my core missions: digitize the enterprise.”

If citizen development is handled correctly, and if CIOs, CDIOs, and CTOs can embrace all these people, Bedi says, then we can do away with the term shadow IT and its negative connotations.

And perhaps this will help with another problem he and CIOs like him face: the shortage of skilled software developers. “I can never get enough of them,” Bedi says.

Analytics, Application Management, Artificial Intelligence, CIO, Digital Transformation, IT Skills, Machine Learning

When your children, friends, or acquaintances, ask what you do for a living, how do you, a CIO, answer them? “I am the future of our business” sounds a bit megalomaniacal, and “I manage the technology function” does not begin to do justice to the impact of your work. 

Since my team and I spend all day every day helping companies define their technology leadership needs, I have a vested interest in creating some clarity around the CIO role. So, I did what I always do when I am in need of information: I asked a bunch of CIOs. Here’s what they had to say.

How technical does a CIO need to be? 

Last year, I was recruiting a CIO for a large global services business whose IT organization employed more than 600 people. My client, the CEO, was very happy with our lead candidate’s ability to influence, lead, think strategically, establish business partnerships, and execute. Just before moving to an offer, my client asked, “But is he technical enough?” I assured him that our finalist was technical enough, but I thought to myself, “What does that even mean? Will this C-level executive be asked to write code?”

John Hill, CIDO of MSC Industrial Supply, spends less of his time thinking deeply about technology and more about bringing organizational digital agility to MSC. “CIOs do not need to be technology experts,” he says. “Today’s CIOs are the designers of organizations that can keep 25 balls in the air; and they know how all those balls fit into the digital vision years from now.”

When I do “talk tech” with CIOs, I find that we are no longer actually talking about technology. What we tend to talk about now are “platforms.” But what are these platforms and why are they so important? For Wafaa Mamilli, CIDO of animal health business Zoetis, platforms are at the heart of her role. “My job as CIDO is to lead a team that uses platforms to power our existing businesses and create new lines of business,” she says. “My role is less about technology and more about finding the next area for revenue and value generation.”

The ascent of CIO as value creator

Mamilli brings up an important point about the changing role of the CIO. After so many years of “IT is a cost center,” it is refreshing to see so many technology leaders describe their role as value creation and even business model change.

As Sanjib Sahoo, chief digital officer of Ingram Micro, sees it, “Once a company has transformed from traditional IT to a platform-driven business, the technology leadership role must shift to value creation,” he says. “The technology leaders of the future will have the technology depth and business acumen to be the bridge to value. Maybe the CIO, CTO, or CDO becomes the chief value officer, but whatever the title, the focus is not on developing an AI engine or bringing a new tool to market. It is in improving EBITDA and the experience of everyone involved in the journey. The focus is on business model change, not just another technology tool in the bag.”

CIOs at the center of digital transformation

Even as I write this, I realize that my first three quotes are not from chief information officers, but from chief information digital officers. These “digital” executives typically manage the IT organization, but their title signifies something more. As long as we are asking some fundamental questions about the CIO role, let’s poke at this “digital” concept a bit. What is digital and what does it mean for the CIO?

Regardless of whether you have digital in your title or not, as CIO, you have significant accountability for creating a digital business, but you do not own digital the way you own IT.  “Digital is not an IT function,” says Irvin Bishop, CIO of Black & Veatch. “Digital is sales, marketing, finance, legal, and operations — everything. I spend significant time evangelizing, carrying the digital torch, and collaborating with my business partners on how to shift our investments from run, to grow and transform.”

Deepak Kaul, CIO of Zebra Technologies, reinforces the critical role that CIOs play in driving digital literacy: “Digital transformation is not a one-time event,” he says. “By the time we are done implementing one wave, there will be a new one. CIOs are evolving from technologist and strategist to catalyst. Future CIOs will be evangelists of digital dexterity.”

The CIO’s evolving data role

Data falls into a similar category as digital. CIOs are responsible for building an enterprise data and analytics capability, but they do not own data as a function. If that is the case, where should the data and analytics function sit? Some companies put it under finance, others marketing, and others operations. In this humble executive recruiter’s opinion, most companies will wind up with a hub and spoke model, which Kaul is employing at Zebra.

“In IT, we have traditionally focused on protecting the single source of truth, but our business functions want to experiment with the data,” says Kaul. “So, at Zebra, we created a hub-and-spoke model, where the hub is data engineering and the spokes are machine learning experts embedded in the business functions. We kept the data warehouse but augmented it with a cloud-based enterprise data lake and ML platform. The core customer data stays pristine in the data warehouse, but once the data goes into the lake, the business functions can experiment. This model allows us pivot from a data defensive to a data offensive position.”

The CIO’s new remit regarding business risk

Now I’ve got it. The CIO role is less about technology and more about platforms, value creation, data, digital literacy, and business model change. But wait! What about risk? What about security? What is the CIO’s responsibility for the other side of the digital investment coin?

This is a question that Rhonda Gass, CIO of Stanley Black & Decker, faced head on. For a while at Stanley Black & Decker, the product group led the commercial technology roadmap, manufacturing led operations technology investments, and IT led business technology. “Individual risks in a particular silo might seem minor, but as those risks stack up, they can lead to a major impact on our customers, employees, or brand,” says Gass. “We recognized that the company needed an enterprise view of digital risk, so my team has taken on that leadership role. As CIO, I look across the entire company and drive digital risk management.”

CIOs as catalysts for culture change

Whether focused on digital, data, platforms, or value, all of these CIOs, it seems, are actively connecting the dots. With most leaders laser focused on their own business or function, someone needs to look across the entire business at opportunity, risk, and perhaps most importantly, cultural change. There is some irony in the fact that CIOs, with their technology background, are accountable for much of the people side of cultural change, but increasingly, that is the case.  

For Madhuri Andrews, CIDO of Jacobs Engineering, creating cultural change is at the heart of her role: “My role is both as a consultative partner to the business and as a mentor to the IT organization,” she says. “If I can connect people to the purpose, they will think more creatively. I can go into the weeds on any technology, but my more important role is to ensure that the work we are doing in IT is connected to the overall Jacobs strategy.”

The CIO of the future

So, there you have it! The simple definition of the CIO role is to have accountability for digital, data, cultural change, business model transformation, platform strategy, and value creation. Or as Will Lee, CIO of The Hanover, puts it, “For years, CIOs have worked hard to make IT a utility where, like electricity, it just works. But now, CIOs are shifting from running a utility to being thoughtful business partners focused on business solutions. Our role will be to work with our business leaders to co-create the dream.”

Well, when you put it that way, “I am the future of our business” might not be so off the mark, after all.

CIO, IT Leadership

Introduction
Since its inception decades ago, the primary objective of business intelligence has been the creation of a top-down single source of truth from which organizations would centrally track KPIs and performance metrics with static reports and dashboards. This stemmed from the proliferation of data in spreadsheets and reporting silos throughout organizations, often yielding different and conflicting results. With this new mandate, BI-focused teams were formed, often in IT departments, and they began to approach the problem in the same manner as traditional IT projects, where the business makes a request of IT, IT logs a ticket, then fulfills the request following a waterfall methodology.

While this supplier/consumer approach to BI appeared to be well-suited for the task of centralizing an organization’s data and promoting consistency, it sacrificed business agility.

There was a significant lag between the time the question was asked, and the time the question was answered. This delay and lack of agility within the analysis process led to lackluster adoption and low overall business impact.

The emergence of self-service BI in recent years has challenged the status quo, especially for IT professionals who have spent the better part of the past two decades building out a BI infrastructure designed for developing top-down, centralized reporting and dashboards. Initially, this self-service trend was viewed as a nuisance by most IT departments and was virtually ignored. The focus remained on producing a centrally-managed single source of truth for the organization.

Fast-forward to today and IT finds itself at a crossroad with self-service BI as the new normal that can no longer be ignored. The traditional approach to BI is becoming less and less relevant as the business demands the agility that comes with self-service to drive adoption and improve organization outcomes. This, paired with the continued exponential growth in data volume and complexity, presents IT with an important choice.

As organizations begin the transition from a traditional top-down approach driven by IT to a self-service approach enabled by IT and led by the business, a new framework and overall strategy is required. This means that past decisions supporting the core foundational components of a BI program—people, process, and platform—must be revisited. Adjustments are needed in these three core areas to support the shift from a model of top-down BI development and delivery to a self-service-based modern BI model which is driven, and primarily executed on, by the business.

People
A successful transition to self-service business analytics begins with people and should be the top priority for IT when considering changes required for BI modernization. In a traditional BI model, people were often considered last after platform and process. The widely-used mantra “if you build it, they will come” exemplifies the belief that business users would gravitate toward a well-built system of record for BI that would answer all of their business questions.

This desired end-state rarely came to fruition since there was little to no collaboration between the business users and IT during the process of building the solution after an upfront requirements-gathering phase. In the absence of active engagement and feedback from the business during the time between requirements gathering and project completion, there are many opportunities for failure that typically emerge. A few of the most common include:

• Business or organizational changes occur during the development process that render the initial requirements obsolete or invalid.
• Incomplete or inaccurate requirements are given in the initial process phases.
• Errors are made in the process of translating business requirements into technical requirements.

The end result of these situations is often that business users disengage from the BI program completely and an organization’s investment in time and resources are wasted due to lack of adoption. Business users and analysts need to use analytics in order for it to have any impact and deliver organizational value. A BI model that embraces self-service puts these users first and allows them to explore, discover, and build content that they will ultimately use to make better business decisions and transform business processes.

Collaboration between the business and IT is critical to the success of the implementation as IT knows how to manage data and the business knows how to interpret and use data within the business processes they support. They have the context within which analytics and the insight derived from it will be used to make better business decisions and ultimately improve outcomes. This collaboration of the groups early on will not only lead to the deployment of a platform that meets the needs of the business but also drives adoption and impact of the platform overall.

Process
Self-service analytics does not mean end users are allowed unfettered access to any and all data and analytic content. It means they have the freedom to explore pertinent business data that is trusted, secure, and governed. This is where process comes into play and represents the component that requires the most significant shift in traditional thinking for IT. A successful modern BI program is able to deliver both IT control and end-user autonomy and agility. A well-established and well-communicated process is required for an organization to strike this delicate balance.

A top-down, waterfall-based process only addresses the IT control part of the equation. A traditional BI deployment focuses primarily on locking down data and content with governance. This means limiting access and freedom to only a few people with specialized technical skills who are expected to meet the needs and answer the questions of the many. This typically involves developer-centric processes to design and build the enterprise data warehouse (EDW) model, build the ETL jobs to transform and load data into the model, construct the semantic layer to mask the complexity of the underlying data structures, and finally build the businessfacing reports and dashboards as originally requested by the business.

The unfortunate reality is that this approach often fails to deliver on the vision and promise of BI—to deliver significant and tangible value to the organization through improved decision making with minimal time, effort, and cost. Top-down, IT-led BI models often have an inverse profile of time, effort, and cost relative to the value they deliver to the organization.

Tableau

A modern analytics solution requires new processes and newly-defined organizational roles and responsibilities to truly enable a collaborative self-service-based development process. IT and users must collaborate to jointly develop the rules of the road for their secure environment that each other must abide by in order to maximize the business value of analytics without compromising on the governance or security of the data.

IT’s success is highlighted, and its value to the organization realized, when the business can realize significant value and benefit from investments in analytics and BI. Should IT still be considered successful even if not a single end-user utilizes the BI system to influence a single business decision? Traditional processes intended to serve top-down BI deployments are too often measured by metrics that are not tied to outcomes or organizational impact. If the ETL jobs that IT created ran without failure and the EDW was loaded without error and all downstream reports refreshed, many IT organizations would consider themselves successful.

Merely supplying data and content to users without any regard for whether or not it is adopted and provides value through improved outcomes is simply not enough. Modern BI requires updated processes to support self-service analytics across the organization. It also requires the definition of new success metrics for which IT and the business are jointly accountable and are therefore equally invested.

Where processes and technology intertwine, there is tremendous opportunity. Technical innovations, especially with AI, will continue to make it easier to automate processes and augment users of all skill levels throughout the analytics workflow. And while process can accelerate, rather than inhibit, successful analytics outcomes, it’s important to recognize that this relies on a system and interface that people are eager to use. If processes aren’t supported by the right platform choice, they will stifle adoption.

Platform
Since BI has been historically viewed as an IT initiative, it is not surprising that IT drove virtually every aspect of platform evaluation, selection, purchasing, implementation, deployment, development, and administration. But with drastic changes required to modernize the people and process components of a BI and analytics program, IT must change the criteria for choosing the technology to meet these evolving requirements. Perhaps the most obvious change is that IT must intimately involve business users and analysts from across the organization in evaluating and ultimately deciding which modern platform best
fits the organization and addresses the broad needs of the users. For more information on selecting the right analytics platform, check out the Evaluation Guide.

A modern platform must address a wide range of needs and different personas as well as the increased pace of business and the exponential growth in data volume and complexity. IT requires that the chosen platform enables governance and security while end users require easy access to content and the ability to explore and discovery in a safe environment.

The chosen platform must also be able to evolve with the landscape and integrate easily with other systems within an organization. A centralized EDW containing all data needed for analysis, which was the cornerstone of traditional BI, is simply not possible in the big-data era. Organizations need a platform that can adapt to an evolving data landscape and insulate users from increased complexity and change.

The most critical aspect is the ability to meet these diverse needs in an integrated and intuitive way. This integration is depicted on the following page as the modern analytic workflow. The diagram highlights the five key capabilities that must flow seamlessly in order for the three personas depicted in the center to effectively leverage the platform.

Tableau

The BI and analytics platform landscape has passed a tipping point, as the market for modern products is experiencing healthy growth while the traditional segment of the market is declining with little to no net new investment. IT leaders should capitalize on this market shift and seize the opportunity to redefine their role in BI and analytics as a far more strategic one that is critical to the future success of the organization. Adopting a collaborative approach to recast the foundational aspects of the BI program and truly support self-service is the key to changing the perception of IT from a producer to a strategic partner and enabler for the organization.

Promise
In today’s era of digital transformation, IT leaders are increasingly expected to take on digital business initiatives in their organizations, including identifying cost savings and finding new revenue streams. Realizing the value of data for these transformational efforts, many businesses are modernizing and increasing their analytics investments to innovate and accelerate change. Everyone agrees that putting data at the center of conversations promises change. However, most organizations are failing to successfully implement an enterprise-wide analytics program.

IT is well positioned for a leadership role in these efforts, and is essential for the task of giving people the relevant data they need for decision-making. Modern analytics shifts IT’s role to a more strategic partner for the business, empowering users to navigate a trusted, self-service environment. But beyond access to the data, everyone needs the motivation and confidence to properly make decisions with it. You need to identify the relationships between job functions and data and change behaviors that run deep into the fabric of your organization’s culture.

This also means expanding your definition of self-service so that business users participate in some of the traditionally IT-led responsibilities associated with data and analytics—like administration, governance, and education. With the right processes, standards, and change management, business users can help manage data sources, analytics content, and users in the system, as well as contribute to training, evangelism, and the internal community. When users value and participate in these efforts, IT can manage strategic initiatives like business SLAs and ensuring the security of company assets.

Although every organization’s journey to building a data-driven organization will differ, achieving your transformational goals requires a deliberate and holistic approach to developing your analytics practice. Success at scale relies on a systematic, agile approach to identify key sources of data, how data is selected, managed, distributed, consumed, and secured, and how users are educated and engaged. The better you understand your organization’s requirements, the better you will be able to proactively support the broad use of data.

Tableau Blueprint provides concrete plans, recommendations, and guidelines as a step-by-step guide to creating a data-driven organization with modern analytics. We worked with thousands of customers and analytics experts to capture best practices that help turn repeatable processes into core capabilities to build and reinforce a data-driven mindset throughout your organization. Learn more and get started today.

IT Leadership

The role of the CFO has evolved in recent years from the person in control of the purse strings, to the trusted right hand of the CEO.

Their importance was further enhanced during the pandemic as they were often required to oversee changes in a matter of days or even hours that would normally have taken months or years to bring to fruition. They are no longer just the person in charge of the money, but a strategic planner whose insights and counsel inform some of the company’s biggest business decisions.

But although their role has evolved, the technology which helps them is still playing catch-up, with the lack of reliable analytics and data one of the biggest hurdles to progress.

A changing role and the need for data

The finance function has traditionally been known for its stability and process-based culture. But Covid brought about a need for quick-fire decisions, where the rule book had to be re-written overnight or thrown out completely. Data has always been central to agile business planning, forecasting and analysis – all tools which have become central to the modern CFO role. The pandemic sped up the need for this type of tech, yet many firms still lack these insights to do the job properly. 

This level of data collection and insight requires the right technology. But in a survey of CFOs by Ernst and Young, eight out of 10 respondents said legacy technology and system complexity was one of their top three inhibitors to progress. 

Data that tells ‘one truth’

Companies are awash with information, each different department has their own KPIs and methods of reporting. But what CFOs really need if they are to perform their modern role well is not just data, but to be able to connect the dots and gain an holistic view.

They need integrated financial insights on accounting and finances data, better traceability and operational reporting on things such as customer segmentation, products and revenue assurance.

 

To enable this, Teradata’s multi-cloud software integrates data fast across finance systems – such as Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP – to connect and  integrate in near real-time. It also has a pre-built financial data model that’s ready to receive and structure data to enable controlled, user-friendly access. This all helps reconcile data from a wide variety of different sources into a trusted, compliant platform

Turning insights into action

Just one example of how this level of data insight has helped a firm was when a global retail company needed to modernize their analytics ecosystem. Their processes were manual and time consuming. Their spreadsheet-based model results couldn’t feed downstream models and analytics.

Crucially, a lack of trust in the model also meant analytics results had limited use to the business. The company worked with Teradata to create a finance-driven data foundational model. It provided in depth detail into things like revenue and costs from aggregate views of branches, products, vendors and customers.

This information enabled the financial justification for strategic business decisions. It’s this level of detail that can continue to enable CFOs to retain their position of trusted advisor to the CEO and an indispensable asset to the company.

For more information on how to gain financial visibility across your business click here.

Financial Services Industry

Organizations have seen tremendous digital transformation for several years now, but especially in the past year, we have seen many accelerate that digital journey. From navigating the new world of remote-first work to deploying modern apps in record time while strengthening cybersecurity, cloud adoption has made businesses become more agile and resilient.

Multi-cloud is no longer just a buzzword – it’s here to stay and growing at a rapid pace. More enterprises are delivering code across private and public clouds and increasingly using Kubernetes to scale apps. In fact, IDC predicts that in 2022, 90 percent of enterprises around the world will rely on a mix of multi-cloud and legacy platforms, and the recent VMware State of Kubernetes 2022 report found that nearly half of the organizations surveyed are utilizing Kubernetes in multiple public clouds. 

However, managing apps and infrastructure in a multi-cloud environment comes with added complexity – teams have to control costs, ensure performance, and manage consistent security policies across these diverse and distributed environments. By implementing platform teams, organizations can drive modernization and accelerate their multi-cloud journey while balancing moving fast and managing risk.

How Platform Teams Can Support Modern Application Platforms

To help with multi-cloud complexity and streamline software delivery, organizations need an application platform. For that, they need platform engineering teams. Platform teams provide consistent, end-to-end management and enable business leaders, security personnel, and other members of the organization to communicate business needs and meet business challenges. A team of experts focused on running your platform as a product is essential for delivering world-class developer experiences and delivering applications to production quickly and securely.

Platform teams are integral to a DevSecOps practice by not only building and running the platform developers use to create new applications that drive business revenue, but also acting as a communication link between your dev team, IT operations team, and security team. By having a team of experts devoted to running your platform as a product, organizations can improve the developer experience and get applications to production quickly and securely. Tools such as VMware’s Tanzu portfolio can elevate app development and the DevSecOps experience for platform teams, while VMware’s Cloud Management solutions can enable infrastructure teams to embrace infrastructure as code and empower lines of business to optimize resources across clouds.

How to Cultivate a Successful Platform Team

When done well, platform teams provide exponential value for software development organizations. By using a modern application platform team, developers and stakeholders can experiment and solve business-critical problems faster, in more innovative ways, without sacrificing reliability. This, in turn, creates immediate value for your business.

If you want to hire the best people for your platform team, make sure they have the right combination of business, technical, and people skills. To be successful, team members must possess a data-driven mindset, a willingness to learn, and an ability to adjust to change. Platform teams that are confident and capable of adapting to change are better equipped to succeed as more application teams migrate to their platform.

Above all, platform teams should have excellent communication skills. Fostering a culture of open communication is necessary to ensure that developers, IT ops, and business units such as human resources, marketing, and finance understand the platform and can help to champion it. Platform teams must demonstrate how their platform adds value to stakeholders in order to justify platform changes, funding, and staffing

At the end of the day, business capabilities and outcomes are not solely tied to technology or tools used. It is important for employees in an organization to focus as much as possible on creating value for the organization. As a result, attention needs to be paid to the individuals supporting this toolset. The ultimate application platform is supported by platform teams that help elevate the developer experience and makes app deployments frictionless.

To learn more, visit us here.

IT Leadership, Multi Cloud

What is a data engineer?

Data engineers design, build, and optimize systems for data collection, storage, access, and analytics at scale. They create data pipelines used by data scientists, data-centric applications, and other data consumers.

This IT role requires a significant set of technical skills, including deep knowledge of SQL database design and multiple programming languages. Data engineers also need communication skills to work across departments and to understand what business leaders want to gain from the company’s large datasets.

Data engineers are often responsible for building algorithms for accessing raw data, but to do this, they need to understand a company’s or client’s objectives, as aligning data strategies with business goals is important, especially when large and complex datasets and databases are involved.

Data engineers must also know how to optimize data retrieval and how to develop dashboards, reports, and other visualizations for stakeholders. Depending on the organization, data engineers may also be responsible for communicating data trends. Larger organizations often have multiple data analysts or scientists to help understand data, whereas smaller companies might rely on a data engineer to work in both roles.

The data engineer role

According to Dataquest, there are three main roles that data engineers can fall into. These include:

Generalist: Data engineers who typically work for small teams or small companies wear many hats as one of the few “data-focused” people in the company. These generalists are often responsible for every step of the data process, from managing data to analyzing it. Dataquest says this is a good role for anyone looking to transition from data science to data engineering, as smaller businesses often don’t need to engineer for scale.Pipeline-centric: Often found in midsize companies, pipeline-centric data engineers work alongside data scientists to help make use of the data they collect. Pipeline-centric data engineers need “in-depth knowledge of distributed systems and computer science,” according to Dataquest.Database-centric: In larger organizations, where managing the flow of data is a full-time job, data engineers focus on analytics databases. Database-centric data engineers work with data warehouses across multiple databases and are responsible for developing table schemas.

Data engineer job description

Data engineers are responsible for managing and organizing data, while also keeping an eye out for trends or inconsistencies that will impact business goals. It’s a highly technical position, requiring experience and skills in areas such as programming, mathematics, and computer science. But data engineers also need soft skills to communicate data trends to others in the organization and to help the business make use of the data it collects. Some of the most common responsibilities for a data engineer include:

Develop, construct, test, and maintain architecturesAlign architecture with business requirementsData acquisitionDevelop data set processesUse programming language and toolsIdentify ways to improve data reliability, efficiency, and qualityConduct research for industry and business questionsUse large data sets to address business issuesDeploy sophisticated analytics programs, machine learning, and statistical methodsPrepare data for predictive and prescriptive modelingFind hidden patterns using dataUse data to discover tasks that can be automatedDeliver updates to stakeholders based on analytics

Data engineer vs. data scientist

Data engineers and data scientists often work closely together but serve very different functions. Data engineers are responsible for developing, testing, and maintaining data pipelines and data architectures. Data scientists use data science to discover insights from massive amounts of structured and unstructured data to shape or meet specific business needs and goals.

Data engineer vs. data architect

The data engineer and data architect roles are closely related and frequently confused. Data architects are senior visionaries who translate business requirements into technology requirements and define data standards and principles. They visualize and design an organization’s enterprise data management framework. Data engineers work with the data architect to create that vision, building and maintaining the data systems specified by the data architect’s data framework.

Data engineer salary

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a data engineer is $117,671 per year, with a reported salary range of $87,000 to $174,000 depending on skills, experience, and location. Senior data engineers earn an average salary of $134,244 per year, while lead data engineers earn an average salary of $139,907 per year.

Here’s what some of the top tech companies pay their data engineers, on average, according to Glassdoor:

CompanyAverage annual salaryAmazon$130,787Apple$168,046Capital One$124,905Hewlett-Packard$94,142Meta$166,886IBM$100,936Target$183,819

Data engineer skills

The skills on your resume might impact your salary negotiations — in some cases by more than 15%. According to data from PayScale, the following data engineering skills are associated with a significant boost in reported salaries:

Ruby: +32%Oracle: +26%MapReduce: +26%JavaScript: +24%Amazon Redshift: +21%Apache Cassandra: +18%Apache Sqoop: +12%Data Quality: +11%Apache HBase: +10%Statistical Analysis: +10%

Data engineer certifications

Only a few certifications specific to data engineering are available, though there are plenty of data science and big data certifications to pick from if you want to expand beyond data engineering skills.

Still, to prove your merit as a data engineer, any one of these certifications will look great on your resume:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Data Analytics – SpecialtyCloudera Data Platform GeneralistData Science Council of America (DASCA) Associate Big Data EngineerGoogle Professional Data Engineer

For more on these and other related certifications, see “Top 8 data engineer and data architect certifications.”

Becoming a data engineer

Data engineers typically have a background in computer science, engineering, applied mathematics, or any other related IT field. Because the role requires heavy technical knowledge, aspiring data engineers might find that a bootcamp or certification alone won’t cut it against the competition. Most data engineering jobs require at least a relevant bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, according to PayScale.

You’ll need experience with multiple programming languages, including Python and Java, and knowledge of SQL database design. If you already have a background in IT or a related discipline such as mathematics or analytics, a bootcamp or certification can help tailor your resume to data engineering positions. For example, if you’ve worked in IT but haven’t held a specific data job, you could enroll in a data science bootcamp or get a data engineering certification to prove you have the skills on top of your other IT knowledge.

If you don’t have a background in tech or IT, you might need to enroll in an in-depth program to demonstrate your proficiency in the field or invest in an undergraduate program. If you have an undergraduate degree, but it’s not in a relevant field, you can always look into master’s programs in data analytics and data engineering.

Ultimately, it will depend on your situation and the types of jobs you have your eye on. Take time to browse job openings to see what companies are looking for, and that will give you a better idea of how your background can fit into that role.

Analytics, Careers, Data Management, Data Mining, Data Science, Staff Management