IT Innovation and the CIO of Tomorrow

By Matt French - 2014-03-14


What’s the future of enterprise IT when the infrastructure is moving to the cloud and the applications are moving to the lines-of-business? The Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leadership Conference provided answers. Last week I attended this conference in Tucson, AZ. Based on the level of information sharing amongst these executives and their focus on driving innovation into the enterprise, I remain bullish on the future of enterprise IT.


The conference honors the most visionary global IT leaders, and the Premier 100 class of 2014 is certainly at the top of their game. It was also rewarding to see so many ServiceNow customers represented as part of the Premier 100.  I was fortunate to spend time preparing and moderating a panel consisting of IT executives that are defining the future of IT. The panel focused on a range of pressing topics including the standardization and globalization of IT services, the impact of the cloud on service delivery, and IT leadership innovations corresponding to conference themes.


The panel consisted of:

-          Cynthia Stoddard, CIO at NetApp

-          Mike Carraway, Sr. Director of IT at Red Hat

-          Sal Giambrone, Sr. Vice President of Architecture & Ops at


There were excellent points made by all three executives and I’ve highlighted just a few key takeaways below:


Commenting on the challenges which led to NetApp’s IT transformation, Stoddard stated that previously the IT organization was viewed as non-transparent so management focused on a cultural shift within the organization to change how the company viewed IT. The first step to building a service-oriented IT team was to define the strategy. “We used the concept of the oil change to help explain the concept of service to the team,” said Stoddard. “When you get an oil change you have a menu of choices from basic to sophisticated and we compared this to the IT service lifecycle which really resonated with the team. The goal was to establish clear accountability and empower them.”


Carraway discussed the evolution of the Red Hat culture and how the IT leadership team is helping to deliver a service oriented approach. “For us it’s engaging across the business and identifying common challenges which are really within the process to enable efficiencies,” mentioned Carraway. “We identified opportunities to deliver services across eleven different departments within the company in which we could collaborate on service delivery.”


Automating service delivery through the cloud has positively impacted According to Giambrone, “Time to market development is the crucial success factor. If you’re spending cycles and thinking about ‘what do I need to provision and build’ you’re losing creativity and you get people weighed down in executing. Changing the focus to automating services from repeated manual tasks, you free up the minds of people to become more customer focused.”


The cloud has been hugely successful at NetApp. Stoddard shared, “We were able to gain the trust of our employees to deliver a self-service cloud environment and get rid of the ‘shadow IT’ developments. And we now have 69 [service-oriented] applications across departments and it’s been a raving success.”


Giambrone concluded with some advice to the audience, “there’s no wrong place to start in this transformation. Don’t be afraid to start. Pick a need and begin the transformation. Become a victim of your own success.”


Stoddard left the audience with this thought, “Start the innovation with yourself. Ask, yourself how you can innovate how you’re working and then take that thinking out to the business.”


What are you doing to drive innovation into your business?

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