Optimal Utilization of Existing Technology

Bryson Koehler, EVP & CIO, The Weather Company, an IBM Business
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Responding to Ever Changing Business Landscape

The biggest challenge for CIOs is being nimble enough to respond to an ever changing business landscape. Many of us are still in a mixed legacy/ next-gen cloud environment where we have to balance maintaining current and building new capabilities simultaneously.

The pace at which innovation is occurring continues to overwhelm traditional IT’s ability to adapt quickly enough to be an effective business partner. I think in most cases, IT organizations have been on a toolbuying frenzy in the last few years. What we need is not more tools but a full maximized use of what we already had. So we need to focus on ensuring complete adoption and complete utilization of the tools already in place. Additional tools today are simply different shades of blue and are distracting IT organizations from solving the root issues versus covering them up with a story around a new tool.

"It’s not a lack of a tool or gap from a vendor, it is simply a resource constraint within our environment to get everything connected onto it"

Effectively Utilizing Existing Features and Tools

What bothers me is user access and identity management. We have a robust single sign-on solution in place with elegant integration of our active directory environment, however because not all business systems are tied into SSO, we have gaps in coverage. So it’s not a lack of a tool or gap from a vendor, it is simply a resource constraint within our environment to get everything connected onto it. Additionally in systems monitoring and availability, we have many gaps in visibility to key and critical systems, not caused by a lack of a tool or sophistication of a tool, but rather caused by resource bandwidth limitations on getting everything hooked up and integrated.

What I expect from solution providers is more focus on helping me cost effectively utilize existing features, functions and tools rather than new capabilities coming down the pike.

Mobile Workforce and Cloud–The Two Big Trends

For a mobile workforce, we have to continue to open up the environment to allow for greater and easier access to all of our corporate systems, tools and data so our teams can be equally productive regardless of their location and device. This puts a strain on our network, security and support teams as we have to continue to adapt to a non-ubiquitous technology environment.

The rise of cloud-based boutique technology solutions that can be started and run by just a few individuals has provided businesses with incredibly unique solutions to every imaginable problem. While these solutions solve many business problems, they pose risks to data integrity, data integration and reporting reliability to the broader parts of the organization.

My Role as a CIO

My role is to champion innovation across all of our business units and implement a technology foundation that frees up all of our product development and engineering teams to innovate more rapidly while not losing global organizational scale efficiencies while maintaining economic efficiencies, data consistency, operational excellence and overall security. My job is to arm all of our employees with the best technology toolkit possible so that their job is not just easier, but allows them to innovate and push the envelope of the art of possible every day.

The biggest change is that the expectations around the execution of extremely large, high risk transformational projects are now considered table stakes. And the focus is becoming more outward, to help position the company to the outside world and constantly seek new revenue sources for an ever-growing business.

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