CIO 100 Recap – Everything You Need To Know

Back in the office, the refreshing ocean breeze off the coast of California still filtering in, I want to share a few key learnings I took away from the CIO 100 Symposium last week. If you were fortunate enough to attend the event, this will serve as a great reminder to the speakers, sessions, and insights the week held for us.

Group of Dell Services employees at CIO 100 2016

Kicking off the event Sunday afternoon at the Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes was, to say the least, a stunning way to embark on the journey to Innovating in the Digital Economy. Kris Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Office of the CTO, Dell Services, kicked off the roundtable, Converging Disruption: Creating a Framework for Digital Transformation, Big Data, and IoT to a room full of IT leaders eager to take part in the discussion. Kris opened up the fireside panel with introductions to three of Dell Services industry leaders: Bob May, Executive Director, Global Commercial Industries; Tim McMullen, Executive Director, Global Provider & Life Sciences, and me. Together, we covered high-level perspectives on how these trends are impacting the industry. Shortly after, the participants were asked to join in a workshop exercise to uncover what they need to stop, start and do differently to set a framework that ensures the success of a future-proof IT organization. Post-it notes populated and overran the board with topics and discussion points that would unveil cross-industry perspectives and foster a dialog about actions that have been successful in managing the converging disruptors plaguing their businesses. It was interesting to hear candid conversations about what IT leaders would stop, start and do differently. If you would like to read more about this topic, you can find additional compiled insight from multiple executive-level workshops in this infographic.

Sunday evening opened with a very well-attended welcome reception. Thanks to the fantastic support from the CIO 100 and IDG teams, Dell Services was able to showcase some of our most exciting client work. I had a great time mingling with clients and catching up with a lot of familiar faces. All in all, the first day was a very solid start to a great symposium!

Monday kicked off with a networking breakfast and some fantastic keynotes. Mike Walsh, CEO, Tomorrow, a global consultancy that helps design 21st-century businesses, shared some mind grenades about corporate culture, the environment, and technology. One story that stood out was how today, parents will hand over their cell phone at the cries of their child, in hopes of keeping him or her entertained for a spell or two. By that small action, we have already altered our children’s ability to absorb technology, engage socially and communicate. A statement that resonated with me was “The next big business shifts will be shaped by your kids.” We already see these shifts in business as big data continues to drive action; however, many companies can be paralyzed with all the data. If not synthesized correctly, data won’t help guide the decisions CIOs make all the time. Another thoughtful statement referenced Netscape: “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” Mike’s point was that we should use data to hack our culture in the organization we run to make it even better.

In addition to the roundtables full of mile high thought leadership and discussion, CIO 100 offered several technical sessions typically hosted by sponsors that get more ‘into the weeds’ of a lot of topics of interest. I attended a standing-room-only session hosted by my colleagues, Prasad Thrikutam, President, Application Services and Digital Business and Bob Lewis, Senior Principal Consultant with the Digital Business Consulting group. The session, Cognitive Enterprises and the Pre-requisites for Digital-Speed IT, focused on how large organizations overcome the difficulty in making intelligent business decisions quickly though a change in process design. Now more than ever, the market dictates the need for agility in all sizes of businesses and it is becoming harder to respond in a competitive manner. For a deeper dive into the strategic approach to becoming a more agile, cognitive enterprise, check out the deck on

The Women in Leadership luncheon, sponsored by Dell Services, was also at full capacity with an incredible workshop, “Sharpen Your Competencies.” Mona Charif, vice president of Marketing and Communications, Dell Services and Pam Stenson, president of the CIO Executive Council (CEC), led a workshop for women in IT leadership roles to challenge themselves by selecting a core competency that leaders must possess and then candidly discuss in groups the strengths and weaknesses associated with that competency. The outcome was a very spirited and collaborative event that left the participants with a better understanding of their leadership skills and capabilities.

Throughout the rest of the conference, we heard from a lot of great speakers that truly embodied the innovative spirit of the event. We engaged in discussions around the inter-workings of digital strategies surrounding IoT as well as strategies to discover the ways our peers are innovating in the cloud. The general session ‘lightening rounds’ offered the opportunity for select CIO 100 winners to share their latest success stories and the projects that propelled the company forward in the last year. Stephen Gold, EVP and CIO, CVS Health, kept it pretty crisp: “No outcome? No income.” Suresh Kumar, Senior EVP & CIO, BNY Mellon, said: “Up and running is better than up and coming.” It’s worth noting that each leader talked about the framework in which they were managing all the disruptors – an important point we describe as the cognitive enterprise. Another nugget from Suresh Kumar, BNY Mellon, says it best: “We are growing from a supplier into an ecosystem driver.”

CIO 100 Awards stage

As the symposium was nearing its final hours, it was a pleasure to wind down and dress up in time for the closing event. Attendees enjoyed the upbeat music at the Terranea Resort Tuesday night during the CIO 100 awards and Hall of Fame inductees’ ceremony. After review of several hundreds of applications over the past few months by an extensive board of peers and academics and council executives, the CIO list of 100 were named. Announced by Maryfran Johnson, Editor in Chief, CIO Events, and Adam Dennison, SVP, and publisher,, 100 executives crossed the stage and accepted their honorary awards for innovation on select IT projects. It was great to see the enthusiasm from the crowd as the winners took the stage in to accept awards on behalf of their teams’ hard work and successes.

Following the awards, we recognized the 2016 Hall of Fame inductees as part of celebrating lifetime achievements in information technology. The distinct honors were given to IT leaders whose careers have been defined by the unprecedented innovation, vision, and leadership they show in the field of IT. Upon accepting their plaques, inductees were allowed to share a few thoughts and incredibly insightful anecdotes.

  • “We talk about technology, process, and people. There are some fantastic technologies out there. There is a great process. But to make that all work, it is really about people.” – Mike Benson, CIO (retired), AT&T Entertainment Group
  • “I think it is important that we cultivate and continue this tradition [of Hall of Fame]…. It is now our job to cultivate the next crop of CIOs, to lead with courage and humility so that we can continue this tradition of greatness in information and technology.” – Stephen Gold, EVP, Business and Technology Operations & CIO, CVS Health
  •  “Invest in those around you, they invest back.” – Randy Sloan, SVP and CIO, Southwest Airlines

Among the Hall of Fame inductees were Donagh Herlihy, CIO and EVP, Bloomin’ Brands; Albert Hitchcock, CIO, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, Pearson plc; Suresh Kumar, CIO and SVP, BNY Mellon; and Robert Urwiler, CIO and Executive Vice President, Vail Resorts.

It has been an absolute pleasure to be the corporate sponsor of such a significant event in the IT leadership community, as well as an active participant in the discussions shaping our future. Congratulations to all the winners and teams that aspire and commit to excellence every day.

About the Author: Sameer Kishore