Bob Miano's Blog

An Executive journal

The Big Picture Focus of Seattle IT Leaders

Innovation, the Cloud and Data.

The Harvey Nash CIO Survey is big. It’s big in size—40+ pages long. And it’s big in reach—2,000 senior IT leaders from around the world participated this year. Though I love the survey’s sweeping insights and vast reach, one of the very best parts of our year-long examination of the data is holding up our findings to the scrutiny and input of local market CIOs.

At the end of September, I went to Seattle to do just that. I led the CIO Forum in which an all-star lineup of technology executives came together to share ideas, strategies and expertise with an audience of IT professionals and business leaders. Our panel included Travis McElfresh, the CTO of InfoSpace; Edmond Mesrobian, the CTO of Expedia and Erez Yarkoni, CIO of T-Mobile. Needless to say, good discussion and lessons to learn were abundant among this distinguished crowd.

We've just wrapped up all of our U.S. CIO events for the year and I wanted to share some of what we saw and learned in our forum out on the West Coast from our audience, from our panel and from the pages of the survey. You can see how this thinking compares with participants across the globe on our CIO Survey microsite.

Practical Innovation
Innovation efforts have two major objectives within most IT organizations and CIOs have to strike the right balance between them. Among our panel most businesses are investing 50% of their innovation resources in new technology development and the other 50% in efforts to reduce IT costs.

While the percentages may vary from company to company, that push and pull between innovation as investment and innovation as a tool to reduce costs is ubiquitous. As our panel spoke to the importance of innovation efforts working within a business function and aligned to business goals, pragmatic innovation became the theme. Our audience and panelists spoke to the fact that rogue innovation efforts will not help businesses today and that innovation, creativity and big ideas are essential but still need to be tied to the practical goals and needs of the business.

The Cloud Keeps Growing

The CIO Survey identified the rapid growth of cloud computing utilization and our Seattle event reflected that surge. The majority of the audience and the businesses represented by the panel are working on leveraging cloud computing and/or virtualization. Clearly cloud computing is no longer just media buzz. Businesses are putting both the public cloud and private cloud solutions to use and experimenting to find out what will work best for their businesses. Given this feedback, I wasn’t surprised to read Lucas Mearian’s article in Computerworld on October 4, that a recent research report from Gartner found that companies selling private and/or public cloud storage have seen annual revenue grow 56% to date this year compared to 2010.

Big Data Rules
As one wise panelist told the audience, “Information should always be available, never at rest.” Managing ever growing business data today—and the big data it has become—is a challenge most CIOs are confronting as we speak. While Seattle’s panelists are approaching their data management in various ways, it was clear from the forum discussions that businesses able to harness big data today will be tomorrow’s big winners.

In addition to these shared strategies and challenges shared during the event, I was amazed at how generous our Seattle CIO/CTO panel was in sharing their specific priorities with our audience. It was a thrilling and unique opportunity to view business strategy from the IT leadership helm, and I want to thank each of our panelists for making it happen.