CIO Interview with Shawn Edwards, CTO, Bloomberg LP

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How are disruptive technologies like cloud computing, mobility, big data, and social media impacting your work as CTO?

Let’s focus on cloud. Bloomberg is actually a cloud service provider, and we have a very sophisticated internal cloud that helps my team move faster. It used to take us over a month to get new servers provisioned, but our cloud has dropped that down to minutes now. That lets us experiment more easily. If someone in my group wants to explore a new idea, they can just spin up 1,000 nodes and try it. It’s incredibly liberating.

How is that speed increase changing how you work with Bloomberg’s business units?

 It’s helping us open up new opportunities for them. At peak times we receive 50 billion messages a day from news sources around the world, and we’re now using predictive analytics to sift through all that information and highlight the specific items a particular user is likely to consider important. That’s something my team thought up and brought to the business, and it’s one of several ways we’re using analytics to create successful new products.

How has the rise of today’s disruptive new technologies impacted your talent strategy and leadership style?

From a leadership standpoint, I now encourage my team to take an agile approach to development where you try things and fail fast, because you can do that so cost-effectively today. On the recruiting side, there are an incredible number of young people in universities these days with deep, top-tier computer skills. Bloomberg offers a lot of internships to those students now and a lot of them come back and work for us   because they had such an incredible experience here.

How are mobility and social media changing how you deliver information?

We were actually the first one on the Street to add Twitter to our news analysis package, because CEOs and others often tweet materially-relevant market information now. We were early to mobile as well, and we’re constantly keeping up with what customers want there. People used to check email and read news on their phone or tablet. Now they want a richer experience like managing their portfolio or doing analysis, and we have to meet those expectations.

 Bloomberg deals with a lot of sensitive information. How are today’s disruptive technologies changing your approach to cyber security?

 We invest an incredible amount of time in security, and new technologies are helping us get even better at it. More than a decade ago, Bloomberg introduced biometric authentication to meet the needs of institutional and individual clients who wanted a more secure login process. Today we’re using big data, for example, to watch what’s going on inside our infrastructure and look for anomalies that could be danger signs. So in addition to enabling new products, disruptive technologies are also enabling new security techniques for us.

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