A CIO’s perspective on priorities for 2013
Journey to the Cloud recently sat down with GreenPages Chief Information and Technology Officer Kevin Hall to talk about the outlook for 2013.
JTC: As CIO at GreenPages what are your major priorities heading into 2013?
KH: As CIO, my major priorities are to continue to rationalize and prioritize within the organization. By rationalize I mean looking at what it is we think the business needs vs. what it is we have, and by prioritize I mean looking at where there are differences between what we have and what we need and then building and operationalizing to get what we need into production.
We are working through that process right now. More specifically, we’re actively trying to do all of this in a way that will simultaneously help the business have more velocity and, as a percentage of revenue, cost less. We’re trying to do more with less, faster.
JTC: What do you think will be some of the biggest IT challenges CIOs will face in 2013?
KH: I think number one is staying relevant with their business. A huge challenge is being able to understand what it is the business actually needs. Another big challenge is accepting the fact of life that the business has to actively participate with IT in building out IT.
In other words, we have to accept the fact that our business users are oftentimes going to know about technologies that we don’t or are going to be asking questions that we don’t have the answers for. All parties will have to work together to figure it out.
JTC: Any predictions for how the IT landscape will look in 2013 and beyond?
KH: Overall, I think there is a very positive outlook for IT as we move into the future. Whether or not the economy turns around (and I believe it is going to), all businesses are seeking to leverage technology. Based on our conversations with our customers, no one has made any statements to say “hey, we’ve got it all figured out, there is nothing left to do.” Everyone is in a state of understanding that more can be done and that we aren’t at the end of driving business value for IT.
More specifically, one thing I would have people keep an eye on is the software defined data center. Important companies like VMware, EMC, and Cisco, amongst others, were rapidly moving to a place that reduces datacenter icons so that just as easily as we can spin up Virtual Machines now, we will be able to spin up datacenters in the future. This will allow us to support high velocity and agility.
JTC: Anything that surprised you about the technology landscape in 2012?
KH: Given a great deal of confusion in our economy, I think I was surprised by how positive the end of the year turned out. The thought seems to be that it must be easy for anyone seeking to hire great people right now due to a high rate of unemployment, but in IT people who get it technically and from a business perspective are working, and they are highly valued by their organizations.
Another thing I was surprised about is the determination businesses have to go around, or not use, IT if IT is not being responsive. Now we’re in an age where end users have more choices and a reasonably astute business person can acquire an “as a Service” technology quickly, even though it may be less than fully optimized and there may be issues (security comes to mind). Inside a company, employees may prefer to work with IT, but if IT moves too slowly or appears to just say “no,” people will figure out how to get it done without them.
JTC: What are some of the biggest misconception organizations have about the cloud heading into 2013?
KH: I think a major misconception about cloud is about the amount these technologies are actually being used in one’s organization. It is rare to find a CIO (this included myself up to recently) who has evaluated just how much cloud technologies are truly being used in their business. Are they aware of every single app being used? How about every “as a Service” that is being procured in some way without IT involvement?
Therefore, when they think of their platform, are they including in it all of the traditional IT assets as well as all the “aaS” and cloud assets that are at their company? It goes back to how we as IT professionals can’t be meaningful when we are not even positive of exactly what is going on within the walls of our own company.
JTC: Any recommendations for IT Decision makers who are trying to decide where to allocate their 2013 budgets?
KH: I think IT Decision Makers need to be working with colleagues throughout the company to see what they need to get done and then build out budgets accordingly so they truly support the goals of the business. They need to be prepared to be agile so that unexpected, yet important, business decisions that pop up throughout the year can be supported. Furthermore, they need to be prepared from a velocity standpoint so that when a decision is made, the IT department can go from thought to action very quickly.