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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This means leveraging cloud computing and Internet of Things to improve data access and decision making across Monsanto’s research pipeline. It means creating data sets and connected analytical models that give us new insights to deliver better products.  And, more and more, it means connecting our employees to growers through seamless digital transactions.

We're doing all of this by building our IT talent and digital mastery. We’re connecting our teams across the organization like never before, as we foster a culture of collaboration, agility and innovation to deliver truly transformative solutions.

John Lutz, vice chancellor for information technology, Vanderbilt University

lutz john2015 photo1 Vanderbilt University

Our strategic focus in 2017 will be centered on three major areas:

1)     Separation of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center – This key transition consumes a significant amount of our energy and brainpower as we continue to detangle the infrastructure, applications, and services currently shared by the university and medical center. Our work includes proper alignment of applications within our data centers, separation of voice and data networks, implementation of a new ERP for the university, and deployment of a new medical center collaboration and communication system.

2)     Alignment with Line of Business Priorities - We continue to deepen our level of alignment and integration with our business partners and the initiatives supporting the university’s academic strategic plan. Key areas include undergraduate residential experience, trans-institutional programs, educational technologies, and health care solutions.

3)     The Business of IT – Within VUIT, we are focusing on people and processes. On the former, we are assuring that our skills are more market-relevant and distinctive. On the latter, we are improving our process discipline and driving a better fit to our business partners.

Mark Weatherbee, vice president Information Technology, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England

mark weatherbee3 Goodwill Industries of Northern New England

The mission of our IT department is to align Goodwill’s technology with the goals of the organization’s Strategic Plan and the needs of the organization. Our strategic focus for 2017 is to fully implement a business partner role in all our business units.

IT’s role in the organization has evolved from simply servicing operations to increased focus on and collaboration with all areas of the organization. For example, our IT supports retail stores and warehouses, many types of healthcare programs, and workforce services as well as operations. Each area has its own unique problems and needs. IT will embed specialists in each area to focus on technology solutions for those problems and needs.

We started phasing in this model last year, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. It has truly been a “win” for all involved.

Matt Lasmanis, vice president and CIO at GSK U.S.

matt lasmanis GSK U.S.

This year, we are splitting our focus between external innovations and internal operations. Externally, we are looking to continue to grow in emergent areas like digital, omnichannel, and customer experience. Internally, we will continue to focus on the core internal operations, such as ERP and infrastructure.

Our goal for 2017 is to ensure that we continue to keep the right balance between the two, investing in emerging innovation, while continuing to safeguard our core operations.

Peter Krockta, AVP IT operations, John Hancock

peter krockta John Hancock

For us the focus in 2017 and beyond will be in three areas; agility, stability, and innovation. You’re right, that’s a lot to tackle but I think there are three factors that can increase the odds of success; 1) unquestioned commitment from the C-Suite, 2) middle managers who “embrace the change”, and 3) a boots-on-the-ground work force who are intellectually curious and comfortable with ambiguity. Let me provide some detail on what we’re doing in each of these areas.

Agility: We’ve made commitments in accelerating to the Cloud, investing in our DevOps toolsets, expanding our Agile development practices, and most importantly, streamlining our processes.

Stability: The measures we’re taking in this space include application rationalization, technology currency, and development lifecycle improvements to strengthen our risk posture.

Innovation: High employee engagement is a significant factor in helping to establish a culture of innovation and that’s where we’re putting our energy.

We’ve already logged several wins in each of these areas and the resulting business value has served to bolster ITs credibility as a partner and trusted advisor to the business rather than an impediment to growth. The forecast for 2017 is exciting.

Phil Stevens, CIO, Army & Air Force Exchange Service

phil stevens Army & Air Force Exchange Service

By building on a strong omnichannel foundation, the Exchange in 2017 will rapidly transform both the in-store and online customer experience to drive continued improvement in relevance, convenience and value. 

In the store, we are deploying a modern, omnichannel-enabled POS as well as mobile solutions for both shoppers and associates. We will expand ship-from-store locations around the world and modernize the global ecommerce fulfillment platform.  

The Exchange is also adopting a mobile-first strategy while significantly increasing ecommerce capacity to support rapid growth. We are building a customer information hub with deep analytic capabilities to ensure we continue to provide a relevant and consistent shopping experience.  Most important, we are integrating our digital infrastructure to ensure common, real-time product and inventory data at every touchpoint so Soldiers, Airmen and their families can find what they want with fast, flexible fulfillment options.

Rahul Merchant, senior executive vice president, CIO, TIAA

merchant rahul new TIAA

As innovation in technology emerges almost daily, the speed in which we need to adapt accelerates along with it. A large part of my job is not only staying on top of these changes, both within and outside of my industry, but in thinking outside of the box about ways to leverage these innovations and new technologies in my organization.

Can an advance in data analytics help identify better ways of doing business? Or can a new way of using robotics in the healthcare field be applied to the financial services industry?

In 2017, I want to ensure that we continue doing what we do well, but I also want to incorporate innovation across processes and thoughts that are becoming business as usual. From Blockchain to the API Economy, there are many disruptive and emerging technologies that will redefine the future of the financial services industry.

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