Staying Relevant as a CIO

relevantI received an email this week pointing me to a nice article over on The Enterprisers Project titled “CIO’s: Stay Relevant With This Advice From 7 Veteran IT Executives“. The article leads to a downloadable PDF that describes a roundtable discussion between the following IT veterans:

  • Cynthia Stoddard, NetApp CIO
  • John Marcante, Vanguard CIO and Managing Director
  • Peter Buonora, BJ’s Wholesale Club Enterprise Architect
  • Eamon O’Kelly, Vice President of IT for Scheider Electric’s North America
  • Rajesh Wunnava, Senior Director of Global Information Services, Warner Music Group
  • Curt Carver, Vice Chancellor and CIO of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
  • Cliff Tamplin, Consultant and Former Vice President of Technology Support and Risk Management, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Some of the highlights  from the discussion are provided below along with my comments.

Cynthia Stoddard –  I think a CIO needs to question their own operating style. If you don’t willingly jump in and think about how you are going to keep IT relevant from multiple perspectives (business and IT), then you will be relegated to that ‘back office’ type of CIO and eventually risk having you and your organization minimized.

It is refreshing to see a CIO say this. I’ve been saying the same thing for years here on the blog (see my post titled The Diminshing Role of the CIO and IT as an example). If the CIO wants to be relevant in the future, they’ve got to make IT relevant to the business by working on business issues…not technology issues.

John Marcante – start by partnering with a tech-savvy business leader who is eager to innovate. Measure the value you generate together through time and create some healthy competition among other leaders.

If you, as the CIO or IT leader, are having trouble showing the value your team can bring to the business, finding a group within the organization and kicking off some projects together may be a way to start building IT’s reputation as a business team and not a technology team.

Cliff Tamplin – people always talk about IT being off in its own little world. But in most organizations, there are an awful lot of departments that are also off in their own little worlds. So it’s not a question of building a relationship with a single “the business” because at most companies I’ve worked at, there is no “the business.”

I’m guilty of saying that IT is in its own world, as are a lot of you. Cliff is right…every group is in their own world unless they force themselves out into the worlds of others. That’s what the CIO must do…pave the way into the other groups to make sure conversations are occurring and that each team within the organization knows how easily it is to reach out and work with the IT group.

Rajesh Wunnava – You’ve got to get out of the model where your business partners brief you on things and then they go away and come back after three months and expect that everything is working perfectly.  Those days are gone. Innovation is a messy process. It’s not a perfect process so you’ve got to engage your business partners actively.

I love this. It is exactly the mindset that everyone IT are order takers. The IT group needs to be out front leading the way with innovation and helping other groups within the organization use technology to solve their problems.

Peter Buonora – …as long as that person is a leader in their organization who is going to lead the organization through technology change and driving the right business value, it doesn’t matter what the title is.

While Peter was talking about the CTO, CIO and BIO (Business Information Officer) roles. the same can be said for any role. In my opinion, this is one of the drivers for the CMO vs CIO debate we’ve been seeing for a while. In many instances, the CMO has taken the lead in driving change and business value using technology.

Curt Carver – The services have to run flawlessly before you move into business process innovation. Once you get a foothold there and that starts cranking, you can start moving into more strategic types of conversations

There’s a lot to say about this one. If you as the CIO can’t deliver an IT group and IT services that just work, how will the rest of the organization accept you as someone who should be involved in the larger, big picture conversations? In order to move away from being operationally focused, the CIO must show that they can actually do the operational aspects of IT well.

Eamon O’Kelley – Unless we really know how they make money, then I don’t think we can really engage in the conversation and push our technology model to build their business.

Eamon’s comment was in response to a question directed at him regarding how he had recently gone ‘out into the field’ to talk to clients.  I love this comment too…it shows the need for the CIO and IT group to understand the business and the clientele of the business in order to truly deliver the right technology solutions.

The roundtable discussion is a great look into how a few IT veterans are helping their organizations to deliver value and turn the IT group into something more than an operational group.    Although accessing the roundtable discussion requires providing your email address, I’d highly recommend you jump over and download it as there are some great insights from these IT veterans.

Understanding Twitter Sentiment for Investing Decisions

Its been quiet over the last few weeks on here for a reason…

I’ve been finalizing my Dissertation Proposal.

Yesterday (Wed Oct 26th), I successfully defended my proposal. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I am now officially in the dissertation phase.

While preparing/rehearsing for the defense, I had the foresight to record one my rehearsals and thought I’d share it with you….be forewarned – its roughly 30 minutes long.  If you’d rather just look at my slides, feel free to jump over to SlideShare to review the slides titled “Understanding Twitter Sentiment for Investing Decisions“.

Now…the video.  You’ll have to excuse some of my pauses and “uh” moments – i delivered the final result much better…I promise 🙂

Understanding Twitter Sentiment for Investing Decisions from Eric D Brown on Vimeo.

The Slides (embedded from Slideshare):

Dissertation Proposal Defense Scheduled (!!!)

I’ve finally got my dissertation proposal defense scheduled! (!!!!)

October 26th is the big day!

For those of you interested, my Dissertation Proposal Title is:

Analysis of Twitter Messages for Sentiment and Insight for use in Stock Market Decision Making

In other words, I’m looking at whether you can actually use twitter messages for decision support…in this case, for investing decisions. There’s been quite a lot of research conducted in this area of using forums, blogs and Twitter messages to determine bias for the stock market – and I hope to add just a small nugget of knew knowledge to the literature.

For those of you that don’t know the process, the dissertation proposal defense is the last real step before actually doing the dissertation research.

I’m at that stage…finally.   I’ve been working on my doctorate since 2007 and I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel….I just hope it isn’t a train about to crash into me 😉

I’ll share more details (slides, perhaps a paper) in the coming weeks.

Perceptions of Online Graduate Degrees

Two weeks ago my colleague Kevin Williams and I had the pleasure of presenting a short research survey to the Northeast Texas Consortium Summer Distance Education Conference in Tyler Texas. I mentioned this briefly in my post titled The Future of Education is Online.

The research project was undertaken to try to get a feel for how people perceive online graduate degrees.  Our initial approach to the survey was to attempt to understand and compare the perceptions of people who’ve earned graduate degrees online versus those that have earned them via the ‘traditional’ method of attending classes on campus.

During the survey (using an online survey – details below), we collected some good data from the people that had earned an online graduate degree but our survey results those that hadn’t earned a degree online was skewed and therefore discarded.  Note: We plan to redo the survey for the group of people who’ve not earned a graduate degree online.

The presentation, titled “Perceived Value and Usefulness of Online Graduate Degree Programs” seemed to be well received by those that attended our session.    You can view the slides from the presentation below or jump over to Slideshare to view/download the slidesMy apologies to all those out there who hate powerpoint as much as I do. 🙂

To perform the survey, Kevin and I created a survey on and asked our colleagues and acquaintances to help spread the word.  We shared the survey link on twitter and facebook and asked our friends to do the same.

I won’t go through the actual questions here (you can see them in the slides) but some of the results are worth noting:

  • 47.4% of the respondents strongly agreed that the rigor of an online graduate program was similar to that of a ‘traditional’ program
  • 67.9% of the respondents strongly agreed that flexibility was important to them in their program selection process
  • 55.4% of the respondents strongly agreed that accreditation was important to them in their program selection process
  • Flexibility was ranked as the most important aspect in the decision making process
  • Location was ranked as the least important aspect in the decision making process

You can see more results in the slides.

During the presentation, we wanted to get some discussion started with the attendees around the results and distance education in general. We were in luck…the group had a lot of things to say about the topic and our survey.

From the standpoint of the attendees, distance education (aka online education) is the future of higher education. There were plenty of attendees telling us that their universities and colleges had begun to transition many courses and programs to be offered either as a hybrid delivery method (e.g., a combination of an online & in-class) and/or as fully online delivery.

Additionally, these university and college administrators and professors were confidant that the next few years would see even more programs and courses transition online – since that’s what the traditional and non-traditional students are demanding.

Regarding our research, there were quite a few good suggestions and discussions that might lead to additional research avenues.  From these suggestions and discussions, a few key areas that Kevin and I may look at in the future are:

  • How does someone with a ‘traditional’ degree (i.e., on-campus) perceive an online degree (this is the 2nd part of our initial research that we discarded)?
  • The concept of the ‘traditional’ student is changing (or already has changed).  Some have reported that 60% of on-campus students living in the dorm are taking at least 1 online course per semester. How does that change the traditional vs non-traditional student perception?
  • Are online programs becoming more popular because of their flexibility or because they are perceived to be easier (a good portion of our survey respondents believed that rigor is comparable)?

There are more avenues for research that came out of the discussions at the conference.

Kevin and I are planning on working up this survey into a paper as well as diving into more research in the area in the near future.

The future of education is online

DEANZ Panel on the Future of Distance Learning By Choconancy1 on flickrLast week, I spent a few days at in Tyler Texas attending the Northeast Texas Consortium Summer Distance Education Conference.

I was lucky enough to get to present at the conference (more on that in a future post!) and got to spend some time talking to university and college educators from around the northern part of Texas.

I was surprised to find most of the universities and colleges were offering their programs online to traditional and non-traditional students regardless of whether that student was on-campus (dorm, etc) or off-campus.  In addition, it was surprising to hear that at some universities that around 60% of students living in dorms where taking at least one course online. There were even a few people telling me of entire programs offered online regardless of the location of the students.

Back in 2001, I started my MBA at The University of Texas at Dallas. I lived close to campus but really (really) wanted to take some online courses to make it more flexible for me to work on my courses.  Because I was an ‘on-campus’ student, I couldn’t take online courses….I would have had to transfer to their ‘online MBA’ to take online courses.   I always thought that segregation was strange…but it seems that there’s no longer a segregation between on-campus students and off-campus students…and I think that’s a good thing.

One of the things that became very clear to me while at the NetNet conference was that universities are really interested in moving more courses and programs online.  Perhaps this is a cost saving measure – or maybe there’s just that much demand for online courses these days…regardless…the future of higher ed (and perhaps, high school?) is online.

Does online education mean fully online with no face-to-face interaction?  I’m not sure. For some courses and/or programs, perhaps it does.

In my doctorate, I’ve not met a single professor from Dakota State University and I’ve only met one other doctoral candidate face-to-face…in face, I just met him last week at the conference even though I’ve ‘known’ him virtually for 4 years.

The future of education is online.

What does that mean for social interaction?  Is an education really only the things you learn from a book and/or from a professor or does it also include the social interaction that occurs during class and throughout campus?   Using aspects of social media, can that social interaction be recreated or simulated?  How well does knowledge really flow in online courses?

All interesting questions I think….some of them are being looked at by one of my doctoral candidate cohorts…more on that research in later posts too 🙂

What’s your thoughts on the future of education being completely online? For it…against it?  Would love your thoughts.

Image Credit: DEANZ Panel on the Future of Distance Learning By Choconancy1 on flickr

Cheetah Learning – funny video ad for CAPM

Kristen over at Cheetah Learning, one of the best Project Management Training groups out there sent me a link to this YouTube video…..I love it!

Why do ads have to be boring?  They don’t…and Cheetah has figured out a way to get their point across in a funny manner.    Enjoy the video…and if you’re looking for some excellent PM training / learning aids, check out Cheetah Learning.

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