by Martha Heller

The New Normal

Mar 26, 2010

The New Normal

My friendRick Davidson, former CIO of Manpower and now a Director at AlixPartners, mentioned an interesting study his firm conducted, so I thought I’d pass it on.

AlixPartners surveyed over 7,500 Americans and found that two-thirds believe an economic recovery will not occur until 2011 and one-third say 2012. The research found that over 40% of Americans anticipate a permanent change in their lifestyle and that spending could plateau at 86% of pre-recession level. In other words, the best we will do is the “new normal.” So, what does this mean for CIOs?

“CIOs should continue to focus on cost management while also limiting strategic investments to those with a clearly articulated and compelling business case focused on growth,” Rick says. “CIOs should also continue to look for a return on existing systems. Many of the packaged applications implemented in the last decade have yet to deliver an acceptable ROI. Why not take another look and harvest additional business value from them?”

It looks as though the “do more with less” strategy may be with us for a while.  Despite the focus on cost containment (or perhaps because of it) I have several new CIOs moves to report!

Andres Carvallo has left his position as CIO of Austin Energy to become EVP and Chief Strategy Officer of Grid Net, a provider of real-time Smart Grid and Smart Home platform software. Andres will work closely with Grid Net chief executive officer Ray Bell to help shape and drive the company’s product strategies, and will work closely with Ray and the rest of the leadership team to propel Grid Net and its products and solutions into new customer engagements and markets. 

Andres brings to Grid Net more than 24 years of experience in the energy, telecommunications, computer, and software industries.  Having held executive management positions since 1992, he has been responsible for the successful development and commercialization of over 40 products, in companies ranging from start-ups to market leaders such as Philips Electronics, Digital Equipment Corporation, Borland, and Microsoft.

INVISION, INC., which provides advertising planning and sales solutions to the media industry, recently announced the appointment of Dwight Gibbs as CIO.  Gibbs has spent more than 20 years serving in senior technology management roles with companies ranging from INPUT to Legg Mason, Capital One, and The Motley Fool.

The National Student Clearinghouse has appointed Thomas O’Dea as CIO and Doug Falk CTO. The Clearinghouse, a non-profit organization, provides educational reporting, verification and research services to more than 3,300 colleges and universities and more than 2,500 high schools.

O’Dea has more than 20 years of IT experience, including application development, systems planning, operations and client relationship management. Before joining the Clearinghouse, he was the president and owner of TOD Marketing LLC, an internet marketing consulting business. Prior to being named CTO, Falk was the Clearinghouse’s long-time vice president of IT and CIO.

Rackspace Hosting, a provider of hosting and cloud computing services named Steve Mills as CIO. Mills came to Rackspace from T-Mobile USA, where he was vice president of enterprise systems, a position he held from July 2006. He was also vice president of technical operations for T-Mobile HotSpot from 2003 to 2006. Mills’ experience includes director for technology delivery for Texas Online, the state’s eGovernment portal while at BearingPoint, Inc.  in 2002 and 2003. He previously held positions with start-ups Alex eBanking and Berkom USA as well as, and E-Systems.

PrivateBancorp named Elizabeth (Bess) Cummings is named CIO. Cummings joined PrivateBancorp in 2008 as Chief Operations Officer from JPMorgan Chase, where she most recently served as Senior Vice President, Global Client Service & Implementation. She held a variety of operations, technology and project management roles in her more than 25 years with Chase and its predecessor companies. In her new role, Cummings reports to Chief Operating Officer Brant Ahrens.

And as always, I am thankful to Cathy Hotka for her news on the retail front:

John Polizzi, former CIO of BJ’s Wholesale, has accepted a position as SVP and CIO with PC Connection in New Hampshire. The $1.6B multi-channel company sells both to businesses and to individuals. 

Mike Laurenti, VP of IT at Family Dollar, will be the new SVP and CIO at Belk.

Kevin Stack, former CIO of Jo-Ann Fabrics, has created cSHARE Solutions, a company committed to provide high quality business process automation solutions and executive level strategic planning to improve overall efficiency.

Despite the new normal CIOs continue to move and shake.  Please let me know what you know and send me news.


Martha Heller

Managing Director

ZRG Partners

P: 508-366-5800 x222

C: 508-654-8378

F: 508-898-9138