Key takeaways from the Evanta CIO Executive Summit 2014

An event in Vancouver draws experts from EMC to 1-800-GOT-Junk to discuss how IT executives need to reposition themselves

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The Evanta CIO Executive Summit in Vancouver last month was a chance to network with some of Canada’s top CIOs, share best practices and learn about innovation in the IT department.

No doubt, technology is transforming the workplace, and CIOs are expected to provide guidance around cloud, mobility and collaboration, to name a few areas. As businesses expect more from their technology than just keeping the lights on, there’s an increasing requirement to align those investments with the business’s goals and objectives.

That means it’s up to the CIO to balance the realities of the IT department (such as budget and skilled resources) with the requirements of the business (such as a need for increased collaboration with remote sites).

It’s not an easy job, since it requires both technology and business know-how, but CIOs who can find that balance are better able to help the business meet its goals and even drive innovation.

Topics at the conference included everything from creating a culture of ownership to accelerating IT transformation. Some of the highlights:

• Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, shared insights into how his close relationship with his technology team helped to build an alternative business model in the junk-removal industry — an industry typically not known for its innovation in technology. Building that relationship helped him turn $700 (his startup cash) into a $137 million global enterprise with two sister service companies.

• In 2012, the University of Victoria suffered a major privacy and security breach when a thief broke into the university’s admin building and stole two years’ worth of personal information on employees. Bill Trott, chief privacy officer with the University of Victoria, shared lessons learned from this experience, and how organizations can develop a long-term strategy to address privacy and security moving forward.

• And Patricia Florissi, vice-president and global CTO with EMC Corp., talked about the new data-driven ecosystem and the converging requirements of cloud and big data. Her insights, which received a lively response on Twitter, explained how IT leadership could plan for the coming convergence of these technologies through an adaptable enterprise approach.

The role of the CIO is changing — and changing fast. CIOs are required to keep up with the latest technologies, but are often put in the position of leading change management and business transformation.

We constantly hear that CIOs are trying to do more with less (a theme that came up many times at this conference). It’s important to drill down into your organization’s business pain points to come up with the most effective IT solution.

But it’s also important to develop skills to bridge the gap between IT and the C-suite, and to help lead the way toward innovation and transformation.


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