Friday, November 19, 2010

Internet Summit 10 - CIO/CTO Viewpoints

This week I attended the Internet Summit held in Raleigh NC.  This conference is dominated by participants who market to, and transact with customers over the internet. It is also dominated by vendors who enable the participants to accomplish this.
In general the conference was well run and, in its third year, has been steadily growing. Unlike the www2010 conference held in Raliegh earlier this year, the Internet Summit is more commercial, less technical, the sessions can drift into being infomercials, but can introduce potential vendors who could help your organization.
Last year I was a virtual attendee and find the return on investment better as a live-in-person attendee. Particularly, the sidebar conversations and networking.
Based on the sessions I attended, I wanted to share some insights over a blog or two.

CIO/CTO Viewpoints
This was a panel session with the focus on key web initiatives for 2011. Participating in the panel:

What has been the impact of the recession on your organization?
Suzanne Gordon - Because hiring was reduced / frozen at SAS the teams in different geographies needed to learn to collaborate in order to get the work done instead of throwing more people at the problem.
Jerry Fralick - Renegotiated contracts with vendors to reduce costs. Looked at Public/Private partnerships to spread IT costs. Was able to pass savings on to state agencies in the form of reduced rates.
Robert Hubbard - Since ReverbNation was still growing and profitable they benefited from the recession in having a deeper pool of talented candidates to hire from.

How has your organization embraced social networking?
Suzanne Gordon - Experimenting with the use of Facebook and Twitter but because SAS is a B2B company this is more difficult.
Jerry Fralick - Governor Purdue appointed a Director of Social Media. She has a blog and has encouraged each of the state agencies to embrace social networking to connect with our citizens. The IT Services Agency has a Facebook page and a Blog.
Robert Hubbard - ReverbNation gets about 50% of its new artist registrations via its Facebook presence.

What problems are being solved by outsourcing?
Suzanne Gordon - We don't outsource. We start a new company.
Jerry Fralick - We outsource a lot, mainly for infrastructure services like phone or print.
Robert Hubbard - Not too much. We need to keep things in-house to be as responsive to our customers as possible.

I am a web designer for a state agency. Jerry, how do i get buy-in from an agency head to adopt social media?
Jerry Fralick - This is a challenge. You need to market the idea showing the benefits.

How do you motivate the people in your organization?
Jerry Fralick - We started a tradition of BowTie Thursdays when everyone in the office wears a bow tie to work (ed: I wonder if the women wear bow ties, are left out, or wear scarves?).  We also have a suggestion box, a brown bag lunch every couple of weeks when people can ask any questions, and maintain a FAQs section on the employee website.
Suzanne Gordon - Constant and persistent communication with employees about what is going on in the organization. I recommend the book "Speed of Trust"
Robert Hubbard - We are a relatively smaller organization, we have a very open culture and cultivate the philosophy that "It is more important to get it right, then to be right".

How do you demonstrate value of what you are doing back to the business?
Jerry Fralick - We have a regularly reported set up metrics plus we communicate the accomplishments we have achieved.
Suzanne Gordon - When I became the CIO, I set up a IT Governance  Council with each business units operations executive meeting with me on a quarterly basis to make decisions over the IT budget spend.

Are you personally on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter?
Jerry Fralick - All three. My office of public information maintains the content.
Suzanne Gordon - I am on Twitter. I have a Facebook page, but it is social. I do have a couple of blogs.
Robert Hubbard - All three.

Final question. Are there any emerging technologies that we have not mentioned you are pursuing OR any parting thoughts you have for the audience?
Jerry Fralick - Come work for the state government. It may not pay as much as private sector jobs but you have the reward of public service.
Suzanne Gordon - Get good people and do what you can to keep them. There are lots of emerging technologies and I have a building full of experts I have hired to keep me informed.
Robert Hubbard - I am really interested in what can be done in virtual development environments like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

My Opinion
Because ReverbNation's product is a set of services driven over the web, Robert really understood and got the whole social media / Web 2.0 phenomena. I think Suzanne and Jerry considered the use of social networks as one of several levers to achieve their goals and I got the impression it was not a top priority focus for them.
As a footnote I was sitting next to another CIO, Chuck Musciano from Martin Marietta Materials and he would have been an excellent panelist... he is on top of the whole "Cloud / Mobile / Social" theme of the conference. In fact, he was using an eval unit of a Galaxy Tab to Tweet, browse the internet, etc etc. Very Cool.

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