CIO Quick Takes: What's your strategic focus?

What are the top priorities for CIOs and other IT leaders for the new year? Thirty weigh in and share their strategic plans.

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On the Marketing and Sales fronts, it’s all about empowering our salespeople. In a competitive market, we need better business insights and seamless communication via all customer touchpoints leveraging all the tools available: social media lead generation, CRM, and powerful mobile platforms to maximum success for our road warriors.

In Supply Chain, we’re driving down distribution costs dramatically with an IOT play involving remote customer tank monitoring via the cloud. We’re creating market advantage via automated order flow-through and optimized distribution with big data, ensuring right product / right place / right time.

Last but not least, we’re keeping a close eye on disruptive technologies and trends in the automotive industry to identify growth opportunities – there’s a sea change happening and we need to be on the right side of the tide.

Kristin Darby, CIO, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Technology Solution Center

darby headshot outside Cancer Treatment Centers of America

This year’s IT focus at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is on enabling the organizational strategy, which will reflect our critical IT, business and clinical alignment. Due to robust changes in the healthcare environment, the overall design of systems and the organizational approach to data capture must evolve to enable the organization to best express the value we deliver to patients. We will comprehensively re-design our technology portfolio, including the EHR and ERP, to ensure the solutions being implemented will drive enterprise process optimization and maximize the value the technology is enabling through automation, process efficiency and insight-driven analytics. 

In the area of cancer, the convergence of genomic advancements, clinical research and technology is emerging as a rapid way to create real life impact for patients whose future could be measured in days or weeks. The commitment of CTCA to provide all appropriate and available options to patients requires that we continue to transform our technology platform around the quickly evolving areas of precision medicine. A solid technology foundation is critical to enabling these more advanced and transformational technical capabilities.

Matt Ode, CIO/senior vice president, Thrifty White Pharmacy

matt ode Thrifty White Pharmacy

Thrifty White continues to lead the pharmacy industry as evidenced by being named 2016 Drug Store News Pharmacy Innovator of the Year.  2017 promises to be another busy year as we continue to grow our Specialty Pharmacy business segment as well as our Long-Term Care, Retail, and Affiliated Pharmacy programs. 

What does this mean from an IT Standpoint?

It means providing all the different business segments real-time data and applications (both internal and external) to make the most accurate and up-to-date business decisions for our employee owners (Thrifty White is 100 percent owned by our employees).  Also, being laser focused as an executive team by selecting the most valuable projects from an ROI standpoint independent of what area of the company they are being requested from. 

For 2017, this includes further automation and streamlining of current central site dispensing facilities as well as additional workflow efficiencies for our stores to spend more time directly with our patients.  Lastly, continuing to evaluate, implement, and enhance more effective social, analytical, mobile, digital, and cloud solutions to grow our business.  In the background of all of this success but crucial to note is all of the infrastructure and security related items taking place that can never be overlooked.

Melanie Kalmar, vice president & CIO, Dow Chemical

melanie kalmar Dow Chemical

This is a transformational time at Dow as we grow our digital capabilities to become even more agile, innovative and responsive to the needs of our people, our customers and the industry. My team is focused on driving IT changes that help create value and fuel market-driven thinking by improving decision making and productivity for everyone and efficient growth for the company and our customers. We’re in the best position to do that, given we interact with every Dow employee and department around the globe. 

In the year ahead, there are several priorities. We’re advancing our use of real-time and data-driven decision making. We’re accelerating the use of more mobile workforce tools and making it easier for customers and colleagues to collaborate. And as we create these new operational efficiencies, we’re staying focused on our priority to make sure we have the most current cybersecurity safeguards in place.

Mihai Strusievici, director, IT, North America, Colliers International

mihai strusievici Colliers International

Our strategic focus of 2017 will be on continuing the radical, long-term transformation of our information systems in the context of a general digital transformation strategy. We will have to address simultaneously the expectations for a modern user experience and the increased needs for advance cybersecurity measures, while still allow for exploration of new technologies.

Our focus will change from application centric to ecosystems of applications, designed with a security mindset and incorporating intelligent user and systems analytics. As data will form the connective fabric of these ecosystems, we will explore new ways to extract competitive advantage from the use of advanced data science supported by new capabilities of machine learning and AI.

Finally yet importantly, we will have to develop an evaluation framework for the extremely fast changing environment, which will allow us to differentiate quickly between technology fads, fashion or real disruptive trends.

Pradip Sitaram, senior vice president, CIO, Enterprise Community Partners

pradip headshot 0023 Enterprise Community Partners

For over 30 years, Enterprise Community Partners has improved communities by helping Americans live in well-designed homes made affordable. Our challenge is significant: Today, 19 million families pay over half their income for housing and are disconnected from good schools, jobs, transit and health-care.

Digital and physical worlds have merged. Geographical boundaries have disappeared. Data delivers insights like never before – and people have unimaginable computing power in the palm of their hands. Technology will transform our interaction with constituents and exponentially increase our impact.

Our multi-dimensional digital transformation strategy leverages Cloud, Mobile, and Social technologies to create one customer-centric platform, allowing our staff to work from anywhere, at any time, on any device. Our strategy strengthens our ability to assess neighborhood conditions and share our nationwide know-how. We’re targeting our investments more effectively and providing needed policy leadership. And with the click of new mobile apps, families will gain unprecedented access to vital opportunities.

Randall Gaboriault, senior vice president, Innovation and Strategic Development; CIO, Christiana Care Health System

gaboriault randall Christiana Care Health System

My strategic focus starts with my hypothesis that anything that can be packaged and delivered over a network will be packaged and delivered over a network. We have already made this transition in much of our everyday lives. I’m applying this same innovation to make healthcare dramatically better. I have three priorities, First, digital is transforming the processes and venues of care, from the physical to the digital space. Your future healthcare will be much more connected and at the same time almost all of your interaction will take place outside the four walls of a doctor’s office. Priority two is moving from data producer to data consumer. Doctors have always initiated the creation of your official health data, inside clinical settings, think lab tests & exams. Persistently connected, streaming devices will force an information logistics reversal. The first two priorities lead to the third: pioneering new organizational capabilitiesmany of which do not yet exist. As of result, I’m developing new innovation competencies to rapidly accelerate experimentation, get validated results quickly, and scale what works.

Reed Sheard, vice president for college advancement, CIO, Westmont College

headshot Westmont College

I am excited that strategies, partnerships and investments we have made in the past have positioned us to have a real opportunity to thrive during these uncertain times in higher education. My strategic focus for 2017 is threefold: 

Instead of new go deeper. Westmont has made significant investments early in the cloud space and we have tried to be a leader among liberal arts colleges. Cloud computing has matured significantly since 2009 and therefore we can finally stop charting new territories. 2017 will be about strategically leveraging these key investments to benefit the mission of our college. 

Truly invest in the key people that make the magic happen. Our ability to creatively respond to the changes, challenges and opportunities occurring in higher education will require capable and committed people. Great colleagues who can get the job done and are a joy to work with are hard to find and vitally important to keep.

Keep learning and stay strategic. My job as a CIO is certainly more complicated but it is also more interesting. However, I too often I find myself mired in a myriad of detail that make it easy to lose focus on the horizon of where we are going as a school. Tremendous advances are occurring across the tech sector and the ability to learn and apply relevant technology to the needs of my institution is a central responsibility I accepted when I became the CIO.

William Retana, senior director of Information Technology, William Retana, LPGA

williamretana option 1 LPGA

The LPGA IT&S strategic direction for 2017 is insuring alignment and execution of our BIG data analytics at all levels.

We are focused in transforming our statistical data from 1950 to today into stories driving the next era of golf real-time mass data analytics spanning the business enterprise and our digital ecosystems thus providing the ultimate customer media experience at unprecedented speeds.

Said Taiym, vice president and CIO, AF Group, Insurance Solutions Provider

said taiym AF Group

Simply put, at AF Group our business strategic focus and our IT strategic focus are one in the same. Gone are the days where IT is responding to what technology the business wants but instead we jointly discuss what capabilities our organization needs to enable our strategies.

In 2017 my CIO strategic focus will be to create an enterprise (not IT) operating model that will take our 100 year old company, and all the legacy weight that comes with it, and begin making it perform like we are a start-up. Whether we are working to enable, transform, innovate or protect, my CIO focus will be to provide an experience for our customer that says “This is where I want to do business.”

A key driver with implementing this new operating model is that it isn’t once and done. It must have the ability to evolve to continually increase the velocity at which we can implement the steady and predictable and the uncertain and agile.

Clark Golestani, president, Emerging Businesses and Global CIO, Merck

clark 2015 photo Merck

My strategic focus for 2017 is to deliver even more value to our business through IT capabilities and our portfolio of digitally-based companies.

At the foundation, the “table stakes” are becoming harder and harder to achieve in our industry. The number of digital programs inside our company continues to grow – and the more integrated and global they become, the more challenging it is to manage the integrity of our operational architecture.  So we are constantly looking for new mechanisms to deliver uncommon productivity in an environment where change is the new normal.

At the same time, I want to drive more synergies with our emerging businesses, and look for additional opportunities where they can impact the core of our company.  Not only are there areas to cross-leverage solutions, human capital, and knowledge with them, but they provide an excellent opportunity for us to prove-in technological innovations more efficiently.

Derek R Plunkett, AVP, Application Development, John Hancock Retirement Plan Services

derek plunkett John Hancock

At John Hancock Retirement Plan Services our objective is to deliver solutions that help our participants achieve financial security.  In 2017 we will continue our focus on evolving our digital platform, providing more personally relevant advice and tools to our participants.  We aim to meet participants on their terms, whether that’s via our mobile app, our website or while speaking with one of our customer service representatives.  For example, individuals who interact with us on our website see a prominent feature called My Best Next Step.  My Best Next Step is an algorithm based tool that leverages our expansive data platform to provide simple and personally relevant recommendations to positively impact an individual's retirement strategy.

Additionally, we know how we develop and build our solutions is equally as important as the technology and software it is built on.  By continuing with our Agile and DevOps transformation, we will keep up with the competitive landscape, current regulatory environment and level of technology innovation without compromising quality.  Being able to work hand in hand with our business partners to rapidly take a concept from ideation to implementation is critical to our continued success.

James Swanson, CIO, Monsanto

swanson2 Monsanto

Our IT strategy is clear and simple: connection. In 2017, we’re working hard to create — and connect — a whole new digital experience for our farmer-customers. We will do this by building the data platforms and capabilities that enable each aspect of our business to better serve growers.

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