Today’s CIO Agenda

Last week, I attended Evanta’s CIO Executive Summit in New York, where I spent time with CIOs from some of the largest enterprises in business.

This is an exciting time to be a CIO, and a risky one, too, because I’d say about a third of the customers I talk to have decided their current IT team is not the team that is going to lead their IT transformation in the coming years. To get around that, these firms are building new teams to address business disruption and opportunity head on.

Yesterday’s CIO agenda was about building applications for a client/server model. Almost every new application is being written for mobile devices, smart phones and tablets. Just think of someone filing a property insurance claim, submitting video and images captured by their mobile device. Every single mobile user is generating a thousand times more data than before. And a mobile application can have a thousand times more users than a client/server era application. That means a million times more data than before, and all that data needs a new type of infrastructure to run upon.

In the new paradigm upon us, do you have a strategy to enable your apps for mobile devices? Within EMC’s IT, we’re building a mobile environment that is safe and secure and more available to more of our employee base, especially our road warriors in the field. We’re even looking at ways to reduce travel expenses related to internal meetings, freeing up resources that we can invest in a more mobile-enabled workforce.

Do you have the software development skills for agile application development and rapid deployment? Many enterprises gave up those talents for leaner organizations years ago and have lost that core DNA. But some, especially in financial services, kept those skills in-house for customized work. That extra cost used to be seen as a liability, but now bespoke applications are coming back into favor. Pivotal Labs has attracted the ninjas of agile app development who are helping organizations relearn those lost skills.

Yesterday’s CIO agenda was about building data warehouses that feel static and limited today. Leading edge enterprises are now building data lakes, which can pool a lot more information about the business, in various data formats, that can be analyzed in real time, usually based on Hadoop or HDFS. Data lakes yield better predictive insights than the rear view mirror perspective of a data warehouse. At EMC, we’re using our own big data tools to analyze failure rates in real time, to predict and address potential problems before they occur. Predictive analytics is one area of IT today that really interests a CIO’s ultimate boss, the CEO.

Most enterprises still need to run client/server platform applications, but in a way that enables consumption-based ITaaS in the cloud/mobile world. The term “Cloud” can mean all sorts of things to all sorts of people, so planning for cloud-enabled IT raises fundamental questions to answer: Which of these applications will live in your data center’s private cloud? Which ones will live in a public cloud, off-premise? Building a hybrid cloud at enterprise scale is an IT organization’s next ERP project. But few organizations can afford to wait two years for implementation. That’s why we just introduced our Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution that can help customers get their hybrid cloud up and running in 28 days or less.

Finally, yesterday’s approach to IT security was all about perimeter defense, putting heavy locks on doors to keep the bad guys out. In a cloud/mobile world, the perimeter is more porous, so the bad guys are sneaking in undetected… but less so under the radar of forward-looking CIOs and CISOs who are deploying advanced security techniques: security analytics that monitor network traffic for anomalies in the flow of information, enabling an enterprise to catch bad actors in the act.

For CIOs who lead large organizations and must manage the expectations of a business and its executive team, the change management challenge may be the greatest challenge of them all. There is no question that today’s IT platform is changing dramatically. The question for CIOs is, are you?

About the Author: David Goulden