Once a CIO, Always a CIO

While bittersweet, career changes are exhilarating.  After nearly five years as EMC’s CIO, I’ve handed the reins over to our newest executive Vic Bhagat and EMC’s award-winning IT team, who proudly and painstakingly built our industry-leading cloud and Big Data foundation.

I may have given up the title and business cards, but I believe that once you are a CIO, you are always a CIO.  As I roll up my sleeves to support the Pivotal Initiative led by Paul Maritz; foster the company’s international growth opportunities; and lend a hand with a variety of EMC’s customer activities, I will be relying on many battle-tested lessons from my tenure as CIO.  Here are a few of the most important ones:

First, agility is the new currency of the business as it further drives efficiency, strives to innovate and speeds its time to value.  Rather than tactically deploying strong technologies at the whim and/or budget of the business (yes, that can happen!), IT must jointly develop value-driven solutions.  Whether I am in IT or a customer within the business, this drive towards agility requires tight, joint IT/business partnerships; an active and involved executive sponsor; and a strong, vetted and validated business case.  The basics don’t change, they just get more pronounced.

Second, agility is also the currency and modus operandi for IT organizations.  At EMC, we are well on our way.  Virtualization and cloud have driven higher utilization and efficiency.  Harnessing and analyzing Big, Fast Data is helping both IT and the business make faster, more informed decisions.  And the software-defined data center promises to take the foundation we built even further by automating the pools of applications and information to make it even easier to acquire, manage and consume IT.  As a “business” customer, I will have even greater IT reliability, flexibility and scalability to be more agile.

And the final lesson is to wholeheartedly embrace the leading products and services that we tout and sell to our customers.  Regardless of where I am in the company, I have immense confidence and pride in our products and services because we tested, used and showcased their value day in and day out.  And, we even shared our experiences and best practices with customers and partners through the EMC IT Proven program.  Many of our business units go as far as saying, “it’s not ready until IT has tested or used it.”  I will continue to evangelize this with my colleagues inside and outside of EMC.

I’d be lying if I said every day in IT was rosy.  However, the relationships I built, the battles we fought, and the successes we had have made me even more prepared to tackle my new endeavors.  As a former CIO and once again a “business” customer, I’m looking forward to working closely with my colleagues in IT to truly unlock the potential and value of IT to drive business agility.

About the Author: Sanjay Mirchandani