Indy speedway CIO says a sense of urgency drives decision-making

Off-the-shelf isn't an option for Rhonda Winter. Instead, she borrows great ideas.

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Few CIOs provide services for the diversity of business operations that Rhonda Winter does. As CIO at Hulman & Co., owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Winter and her IT staff of 12 full-timers and two contractors must ensure that tech systems at the famous track are ready for the iconic Indianapolis 500, numerous other races and big-time nonracing events like this year's July 4 Rolling Stones concert. Winter's team also delivers IT services to Hulman's IMS Productions video production operation and its Clabber Girl baking products unit.

It's an unusual mix, but Winter is up to the challenge, having held IT and business leadership roles at other unique organizations, such as the NCAA and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Here she shares insights on her strategies for leading IT.

What's the biggest technology challenge you face? I'll tell you a bit about this facility: Today there are no fans here, but on race day there could be 350,000, and everybody has their Wi-Fi, their cellular phones. We also go from [several hundred employees] to 4,000 -- we hire temporary people to come in and work. And we run events in analog, digital and on TV, and all three require connectivity. So for us, connectivity is the biggest challenge. It's very important in fan engagement, operational efficiency and for creating an intelligent stadium. Each one requires connectivity.

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