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Behzad Zamanian
CIO, City of Huntington Beach

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Behzad Zamanian was appointed as the Chief Information Officer for the City of Huntington Beach (Surf City USA), California in August 2015. In this role, Behzad is responsible for the overall leadership of the Information Services Department including strategic technology planning, development and implementation of technology standards, policies and procedures, project management, budget development and implementation.
Behzad started his career with the City of Huntington Beach is January 2004 as a Business Systems Business Systems Manager and was soon promoted to the Business Systems and Public Safety Systems Manager responsible for the oversight of public safety systems in addition to business systems and enterprise applications.
Before joining the City of Huntington Beach, Behzad held the position of Chief Architect and Administrative Computing Manager for 10 years at the University of California, Irvine.
Behzad has more than 28 years of experience in the field of Information Technology, including the private sector, Fortune 500 organizations, academic and research institutions, health care industry, public safety and local government.
Behzad holds the Certified Government Chief Information Officers (CGCIO™) designation from Public Technology Institute (PTI) and Rutgers University of Public Affairs & Administration. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Cal Poly Pomona and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of California, Irvine.


What superpower do you want most?
Time travel would have been interesting. Think about how technology has grown in the past few decades. 40 years ago, you had a computer the size of this room and now you have an iPhone in your pocket that has ten times more processing powerful and fits in the palm of your hand. It would be interesting to see what technology looks like in the next 40 years. Will that consist of maybe a chip under your skin keeping you connected at all times, diagnosing what goes on in the body, etc. it would definitely be interesting to see where technology leads.
What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a pilot and loved to fly, I think I must have been a bird in another life! I always had a desire to fly and often dream about it, I grew up in Iran and moved to California in 1984. Wondering how you went from dreams of being a pilot to the IT industry? Selecting a career is different for people who migrate to the US, you don’t take things for granted and tend to think of what's available and needed than what you like to do. When I decided to major in Computer Information System, I thought about what’s hot what’s not in 20 years thinking software would run everything at some point, guess I wasn’t so wrong.
If you won the lottery what would you do?
Find a place in Hawaii some place far away from big cities… the island life and retire.
What’s the #1 area of focus CIO’s should concentrate on? 
I personally feel that the most important thing for a CIO is to become s strategic business partner with other units. Being a business partner lets you align your IT mission with the organizations mission and vision and that should ultimately be the goal of every CIO. Some refer to it as “business alignment”. In my opinion, building partnerships with the departments is the key to IT’s success. If I'm able to accomplish what other departments want then that automatically aligns my goals with business.
In terms of initiatives, one thing we are seeing is cyber security becoming the main priority for a lot of organizations. One interesting thing I heard at a recent conference regarding state vs. local government priorities is that priorities aren’t the same for state and local government agencies. For example, states   are still focusing on IT consolidation but local agencies have mostly consolidate to a degree and moved on to other priorities. Cyber security seems to be a hot topic for everyone. The last thing I want is to see our City becoming a victim of a cyber-attack so security is definitely one of the major concerns. In terms of automations and applications, enabling field workers to use mobile devices and providing more citizens engagement online systems, I see that as a stepping stone for connecting IoTs. At some point everything will be connected, city’s assets, pipelines, water meters, cars, roads, applications, etc, and you have the ability to monitor and manage everything remotely. As a stepping stone, richer mobile enabled applications would be the focus for government agencies. Empowering users to do work in the field and connected to a central system. We have developed an integrated work order system to manage Public Works requests but it’s missing the mobile functionality at this time. We are working with a vendor to build a mobile application that enables citizens to submit a request and field staff will soon be able to get the request immediately and respond to the request to take care of the problem.
A lot of people think of cloud as a strategy for IT but I see cloud as another tool to provide better level of support. There are multiple factors when you look using the cloud. Example of those factors are investment in your organization datacenter or the nature of the application, is this an enterprise application, does it require remote access, are there a lot of integration points, etc. Enterprise applications such as ERP software have proven to be more successful on-premises for larger organizations like us. On the other hand, simple applications that require a lot of interaction with customers/constituents such as online recruitment applications can be a good fit for the cloud. Additionally, some agencies like us must comply with security protocols and regulations so cloud isn’t always an option.
Do you feel IT still carries the title of a cost center rather than revenue driver?
I think that depends on the organization the administration view of IT. IT was viewed as a cost center a few years ago but in the past few years IT has proven to not only be potentially a revenue/cost saving driver but also a strategic business partner. During the recession we saw a big change in how departments viewed IT and utilized technology by automating their processes to save costs. Here is a simple example, our community services department used to print and publish magazines every month so we said let's cut the cost by creating a digital magazine on our website where the information was readily available to everyone.
Are there any hiring challenges? Specifically, from millennials?
Hiring as it relates to millennials has not been an issue for us.   Of course millennials have all the information and tools they need to be able to just move on to the next company with a similar position if they don’t like it which could result in you losing a really good employee. Our challenge has been the high cost of benefits associated with government employees.   We simply can’t afford to hire as many full time employees so what I try to do is “smart sourcing”. Outsourcing, use of contract positions, part timer or interns for what makes sense such as repetitive simpler tasks in IT such as helpdesk; and full time employees become smart managers of IT resources and work on mission critical systems that support the core of the organization; this is what I call “smart sourcing”. In my opinion that is the only way to manage technology with extremely limited resources with the ability to scale up and grow. We have 1100 FTEs citywide and about 500 seasonal and part time employees. We had 50 IT employees in 2006 and now only 30 FTEs, we lost about 40% of IT staffing resources to attrition and cuts in the past few years.
What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?  What are they expecting you to look at?
Just like any other progressive organization, we, key executives, would like to see better customer service, better internal and external communication, a more robust IT governance, automation, technology to make people and systems more efficient and productive; and most importantly, technology to provide better service to our citizens, visitors, and constituencies.   In terms of projects, cyber security, enterprise systems capable of providing online services, and of course technologies that helps public safety to be more effective and efficient. My role is to partner with departments and be sure to understand business needs and align IT goals with business.
What would be your top three goals for this year?
Cyber security is one of our top priorities, upgrading our legacy systems is another one of our top priorities. We are also looking at mobility, enabling field users to work remotely, public safety functions in particular, police and fire department remote access are some of our high priority initiatives. Providing added remote functionality to our Police and Fire vehicles and expanding mobility is a big-ticket item. We are also trying to look at broadband, perhaps in a public/private partnership model providing high speed Internet access to our constituencies and making the City an attractive option for technology companies. We are looking at laying fiber throughout the city to connect all City facilities and pole tops as the next big real estate market. ISPs will need access to pole tops for mini/micro cell towers and better connectivity. Another priority for us is business alignment, we are here to provide service to citizens and more automation in development services is a priority so we are in the process of replacing our land management system to provide a lot more online services. Online permit request, automated plan check, one stop shop for payment and other citizen engagement services is a high priority for us.
If you could give guidance to yourself looking back before you had the role of a CIO, what would you tell them?
To be patient and try to enjoy the process. CIO job comes with a lot of responsibilities so be careful what you wish for.   It’s a fast-paced demanding role that requires high energy personality.
What advice would you give to others interested in pursuing careers as a CIO?
There are two kinds of people at work, some bring a character to their day to day job and some let their job to define them.   Try to be in the first group, define your job and the environment you work in. The CIO role is about business more than technology, as a CIO you must understand and address business needs and technology is your tool. For me it was a natural move because I was on the business systems and applications side of the house. My suggestion would be to ask a lot of questions and learn a lot about the business, be sure to understand the big picture before attempting to be a CIO. Be very flexible, you want to be able to re-prioritize your tasks at all times.   So if you want to be a CIO, be focused, keep your eye on the ball and you will get there, it's just a matter of the time.


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Drew Martin
Vice President & Chief Information Officer
Jack in the Box Inc.

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Drew Martin is Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Jack in the Box Inc.  He oversees the information technology functions across the enterprise, including both Jack in the Box® and QDOBA Mexican Eats® brands. 
Mr. Martin joined Jack in the Box Inc. in 2016 with extensive experience in similar leadership positions with prominent companies like Sony, PepsiCo, Accenture and most recently, Lytx Inc. where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer.  Before that, Mr. Martin was Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Sony Electronics.      
Mr. Martin is also the founder of Silicon Beach Advisors, Inc and co-founder of Seenager, Inc.  He serves on the IT Advisory Board for Sharp Healthcare. 
Mr. Martin has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cornell University. 


When you go out to eat, what do you order as your side?   
Curly fries!


What song best describes your work ethic?   
Tom Waits, Get Behind the Mule.


If you were stranded on a deserted island what you would bring and why?   
A Stand Up Paddleboard for fun … and to get home eventually.


What superpower do you want most?   
That one is easy … time travel. I could go back and make sure some bad things didn’t happen.


What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?   
I wanted to be a writer because my parents were both writers.


What’s the #1 area of focus CIO's should be concentrating on?   
Initially, I focus on building relationships and partnering with stakeholders, but ultimately I concentrate on getting aligned on strategies and priorities.  In our case, we've really shifted to more franchise-owned restaurants.  We need to provide our franchisees with solid IT systems and capabilities.  We approach this like we’re a professional IT services provider to them.


What’s your take on Public Cloud?   
I think the challenge with new technologies, whether they’re public cloud, big data or artificial intelligence, is always about understanding the potential and how to apply it to what you're trying to accomplish as an enterprise.  It's not about getting caught up in the hype or doing it just because everyone else is. Within public cloud there is certainly game-changing scale leverage, but it also creates new challenges around security, integration and custody of data.  It's something that every CIO is at least looking at, if they're not already doing something with.


Do you feel IT still carries the title of a cost center rather than revenue driver?   
IT is still a cost center from an accounting point of view, but we should also have a revenue driver mindset.  IT should be extremely focused on ROI and supporting sales growth.  Also, I think what’s changed is that these days, digital is part of the product and customer experience.  There's hardly a product I can think of where the customer experience doesn't have some element of digital in the product offering and we’re no different in that regard.  That’s forced IT to get out of a predominately support role and more engaged with helping to enable the digital guest experience.  In our industry, Domino's says they are a technology company that happens to deliver pizza and Starbucks has invested a lot in its mobile app user experience.  Our industry is just like others in that it’s clearly investing in IT to drive revenue.


What are you (the CIO) doing to support innovation in the company and its own organization to deliver better solutions? 
To deliver better solutions, I’m trying to make sure we’re engaged in the conversations around innovation.  We have to be collaborative and balanced in our approach.  CIOs can't be too far out ahead of the conversations.  We can’t do innovation for innovation’s sake or fall in love with a particular technology. It has to be in the context of what the strategic objectives of the company are.  On the other hand, when CIOs aren’t involved in those conversations, companies can get caught having issues with speed to market, security, integration or support.


What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?   
Senior management is trying to provide clear direction to the entire company and set the tone. Our company mission is to Nourish the Pursuit of Dreams. On the Jack in the Box brand, the purpose is to Make Busy Lives Better and Qdoba’s to Bring Flavor to Life. The messaging coming from key executives is for IT to partner to deliver on this corporate mission and on the brand promises.


Are there any hiring challenges in general?   
It's always a challenge to get the right skill set and match in terms of culture and career objectives. And the best candidates usually have several options, so having a fun and engaging corporate culture can really help.  In hiring for IT, it's also important for us to have a clear idea what's core to what we do and where we'll partner instead of hiring.  Candidates want to understand that along with the broader IT vision so they can get comfortable and excited about what it could mean to their potential career path with the company.


How is hiring millennials different from traditional hiring?  
From an IT perspective, we have to provide tools the millennials are used to.  This includes things like chat, cloud based email, and collaborative team sites. I'm personally very comfortable on primarily using email to communicate whereas millennials may want to operate differently. Millennials are also very interested in the social aspect of the job so we need to make sure the tools are engaging and allow them to collaborate with their peers while also getting the job done.  Of course, we hire a lot of millennials in our restaurants. We have to provide them with mobile capabilities that help make their busy lives better.  This includes capabilities like being able to check their schedules and swap shifts with peers on their phones and not have to always call into the restaurant manager.


If you could give guidance to any CIO, IT Manager Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them?   
Over the years as I've mentored people, any conversation that starts with title or money issues tends to be problematic. Have passion around impact. People who come in and want to do better, make the enterprise faster, smarter and add more value are the people that I have great conversations with and lead to better professional outcomes. Lead with those ideas on how to have more impact and good things tend happen from there for the company, the department, the team and of course for the individual’s career.



To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.

John Gwinner is a Chief Technology Officer with a huge interest in VR. He developed a VR interface for CompuServe during the last wave of VR. He helped develop Web3D and VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) with a focus toward PC’s, and put early versions of XML on the web. He was a returning speaker at the Game Developer Convention on 3D toolkits and VR. He was an early Kickstarter of a new VR Headset in 2014. Now that VR is definitely taking off again, John is once again at the forefront, developing VR interfaces to data, architectural visualization, and a bowling game that pits you against garden gnomes.

John has been working with Oracle ERP systems, including the EBUsiness Suite, and JD Edwards, for over 15 years. He has implemented over 400 clients, supervised the creation of an offshore office, created a private hosting cloud (and over 15 years experience with private clouds), performed upgrades, platform conversions for Solaris/HPUX to Linux, and established coding methodology and source control.

John has been working with C++ nearly since the beginning. He's ridden the crest of various programming waves from "Structured Programming" through "Object oriented programming" to Agile/Scrum development. He's built from large, Windows server based industrial "Smart control panel" to small embedded Arduino systems. An early proponent of open source, he also works on closed source systems.

Programming is part art and part science. Managing programmers is only herding cats if you don't understand programming - John can be hands on if needed, and understands executive management.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What song best describes your work ethic?

Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas; it was on a loop when I was first flying to college – and Cornell was a lot of hard work. That song reminds me of my career – sometimes, you have to put in hours to get something done. For example, one month we were de-hosting somebody from one cloud and moving them to our cloud, and I worked 440 hours in one month. Sometimes there are urgent projects and you need to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

What is one thing most people don't know about you? 

I am a captain in the Martine Corps and I’m 9th award expert in rifle and pistol.

What did you want to do when you were a kid? 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I never made it to space and at this point I’m not sure I ever will, but you never know. My defense is that PCs weren't around when I was a kid; as soon as they were, I just took to them. I really enjoy what I'm doing now with technology; not just with VR (virtual reality) but other IT projects as well. When you step back and think about what you’re really doing, you are enabling people to work better, increase productivity and help them do their job, so I look at technology that way - helpful.

What is your experience with hiring millennials and how is it different?

At my past company, they didn't train people so we didn't want to hire professionals without experience. The result of this was we rarely had any millennials because they simply did not have the skills needed. My other company was the complete opposite so I had some experience with younger professionals there. The one thing that surprised me was they tend to work 8 hours and are upset about working longer hours, and seem to have less of a concern about the company success. Part of this depends on the compensation structure of the company, but most of it is just an attitude shift among young hires.

Is IT a revenue driver? 

IT is often viewed as a cost center because getting budgets approved for new servers or upgrades for servers can be very difficult. For a CTO or an IT Director, it can be hard to adequately describe things in terms of what business people need and justify replacing servers. Leadership needs to explain the cost in a strategic way so the business executives understand that the investment will reduce other costs and result in a revenue driver. A lot of that is on the IT guy. Being able to explain and show that technology issues aren’t always the computers fault and could be the fault of the architects who programmed them is where having effective communication skills with rest of the business is key.

Take on public cloud?  

Security is definitely an issue with public cloud. I've talked to banks that would never go to public cloud because they are worried about a hosting company having their passwords and the possible hacks associated with public cloud. I think the best use of public cloud is if a company isn't comfortable putting their data in the public cloud, you can use the cloud as an extension of your IT service. Both Oracle and Microsoft have shown ways to successfully do this.

Where do you think IT is pointing to in the next 5 years? 

Security will be a major focus – devices and languages have to be made more secure. Even though I was complaining about public cloud, I do think in time programming will be made simpler through the abstraction of the Cloud. An advantage of public cloud is that it makes it so easy to spin up a new server but a lot of people misunderstand support costs, even with the cloud. One of the trends that will continue is HTML programming and specialty programming skills. Average IT guys will not have all of these specialties so as time goes on, outsourcing will continue to grow for companies like us. It will also make hiring more difficult as job openings will continue to specify very narrowly constrained skills, which take longer to fill. This is slowing cloud options because of the lack of customizations. With VR/AR, Machine Learning, and the rise of AI, IT will allow us to focus more on analysis, in addition to automation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner css=".vc_custom_1534522322036{padding-top: 50px !important;padding-right: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 50px !important;padding-left: 50px !important;}"][vc_column_inner][grve_callout title="MEET THE TECH EXEC INTERVIEWS" heading_tag="h2" heading="h2" button_text="LEARN MORE" button_color="green" button_hover_color="white" button_link="url:http%3A%2F%2Finfo.managedsolution.com%2Fc-level-interview-registration||target:%20_blank|"]IT is a journey, not a destination. We want to hear about YOUR journey!
Are you a technology innovator or enthusiast?
We would love to highlight you in the next edition of our Tech Spotlight.[/grve_callout][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Jonathan Behnke

Chief Information Officer, City of San Diego

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Jonathan Behnke is the Chief Information Officer for the City of San Diego. He has over 20 years of IT experience managing and implementing technology for a broad range of industries including public sector, contract services, oil, construction, automotive, distribution, consulting, and manufacturing.
In Jonathan’s current role he is responsible for the technology strategy and operations for America's eighth largest City including data center, network, voice, public safety wireless communications, web services, enterprise applications, portfolio management, cybersecurity, GIS, and data analytics in support of over 10,000 users and 1.4 million citizens.
He also serves on the Board of Directors for SanGIS, a joint powers authority between the City and County of San Diego responsible for maintaining a regional GIS land base and data warehouse. In support of CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services, he also serves on the California Cybersecurity Task Force. Jonathan is also a member of the MetroLab Network Smart Cities Initiative, Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, The Municipal Information Systems Association of California, San Diego Infragard, and Metropolitan Information Exchange representing a group of CIO’s from the largest cities and counties in the USA.
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What’s the #1 area of focus you are personally focused on?  
We have so many initiatives and projects underway, I can talk about the top tier. Top things: modernization and expansion of services to San Diegans. We rolled out a mobile app called Get it Done San Diego. It allows residents, neighbors, and community members to report things like potholes and the reports to go straight into our backend system. It's really quick for San Diegans to take a picture of an issue and send it to us. The request is routed to the correct department and when the City completes the work they can take a picture and send back indicating that the work is finished. We're seeing a great level adoption and high level of satisfaction for the app. We are looking at broadening the functionality to other areas. The app does geotag issues and we have it plugged into our GIS systems to produce the issue on maps for City workers. It's really efficient for the City and our residents because we’re crowdsourcing the reporting of issues. Many neighborhoods are really excited about this are walking through their areas reporting all of the issues they can find to improve their neighborhood. San Diegans win by getting their issues fixed more quickly and the City wins by crowdsourcing the reporting more quickly. The Get it Done app has been out since this last May. Last March a new city website was launched, which won Best of the Web Award from the Center for Digital Government for ease of use. We surveyed over 5,000 San Diegans to develop the new website. There is now a set of drop-down menus to fast-track our residents to the information that they need. We have another initiative to replace PDF Forms on the website. Instead of downloading forms now we have a new solution that converts the PDF’s to online forms to fast-track the entry into our back-end system, making things more efficient for San Diegans and the City employees. We are also working on making permitting available online and looking to release that sometime later this year.
As we roll out these capabilities, we are also working on a single-sign on portal for residents to get to multiple city services. We make Cyber Security a priority in everything that we do and are constantly managing new threat vectors. Anytime you are traversing through the internet, there are all kinds of vulnerabilities and new ones appear every day. The City requires all 11,000 employees do annual cyber security training. You can have a rock solid system but it only takes one person to get a phishing email and all the cards fall if they click on it. I have heard about incidents in other companies where someone finds a flash drive in a parking lot with a child's picture on it. Someone will pick it up and take it to the computer and plug it in to see if they can find the owner, releasing a payload of malware into the company’s network. We got an email last week that was signed by a student from a local university. It said they were doing a cybersecurity survey and it had a link to respond. We knew it was a scam because we get emails like this all of the time. We have also seen ransomware as a growing problem. A legitimate website gets hacked and when someone goes into the site and it dumps malware onto their computer. After someone encounters ransomware, we'll get a phone call that says, hey what's BitCoin? We know immediately it's ransomware with a message on the person’s screen that says to give the hackers BitCoin and they’ll get their data back. We approach cybersecurity from multiple angles. We've got tools in place that isolate compromised computers from our network and then reimage the computer. Cybersecurity is a 24/7 job.
If you won the lottery what would you do?  
I think about the people that completely self-destruct, so I wouldn't do that. I think I'd give it back to the community somehow. I would build a new football stadium and bring the NFL back to San Diego.
What superpower do you want most? 
I would say flying because I commute from North County. I take transit to San Diego and get work done during the trip, so it's great to take the transit down here. They do a great job. A lot of city people take advantage of that.
What’s your take on Public Cloud? 
We look at government compliant cloud offerings and cloud providers out there. We currently do some work with Sales Force apps. The "Get It Done" app is based on Salesforce technology, using their government cloud. We also have a private cloud, using our own infrastructure allowing us to spin up virtual machines quickly. We have a lot of efficiencies built into the private cloud already. We use Amazon and Azure for business cases that are a good fit for that and continue to evaluate cloud offerings for Back Up and Recovery.
We have a hybrid environment. We see a lot of our new applications being SaaS applications. If we have big projects need infrastructure for a short time it might make sense to use cloud for that because it's no longer needed after the project is done. It gives us some agility to provision those resources quickly and then we haven't had to make a capital investment.
We've been on Microsoft Office 365 for 3 years. We are one of the largest municipal governments on Office 365 and we were one of the first out there. Our police department is not on Office 365 yet as we are just getting through CJIS compliance. CA law enforcement requires CLETS backgrounding for employees accessing CJIS information. Chula Vista PD was just approved by the State last month for Office 365 and now the door should be open for approval for other agencies, so we expect to get our police department on Office 365 soon. Currently, we've got an on-premise system and a cloud system in our hybrid environment, so we've got the challenge of getting the two synced up. We were on the early edge of large organizations going to the Cloud -- Office 365, and there was a little hesitation at first because we wanted a high level of confidence.
We also want to get the user’s home drives moved over to Microsoft OneDrive. That is something I’d like to do this fiscal year. We've got to work out the logistics to get ourselves there, but we see a lot of benefit to that.
If you were 80 years old and speaking to your younger self about life what advice would you give? 
My theory is if you make it 80 then you're playing on house money after that. I would say live life to the fullest and pass along your knowledge to the younger generation about your mistakes as well as your successes.
Tough question: Side salad, curly fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings?  
I would pick the side salad but if I need that rush I'd go with curly fries. I'm a huge carbs person.
IOT what does it mean to you?  
We hear from a lot of vendors in the technology sector and when we talk about it as a local government, IOT is discussed alongside Smart Cities. There is a lot of discussion about improvements to transportation, development, and energy. We see a lot of potential for the City and surrounding governments to partner and make life better for our residents, neighbors, and community members. The city announced a partnership with Google WAZE, and are looking at how we can use that data to really improve transportation. Our traffic engineering department can take that data and potentially implement changes. The City also has a project to deploy LED streetlights, and some will have sensors to generate new data and drive analytics that the City can make improvements from. If the regional governments can take advantage of IOT and aggregate that information into a single source, there are some great possibilities. You can take analytics and data from multiple organizations and aggregate it and put up a heat map, and do some really cool things. The city has an open data portal releasing a lot of data sets to the community. As we look at IOT, we really look at a lot of future potential, data and analytics, which could ultimately bring improvements to the everyday life of citizens.
What are your top 3 concerns in technology today? 
Security, mobility, and the cloud.


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Managed Solution is conducting interviews as part of an outreach initiative to share trends and engage technology enthusiasts in the southwest.


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Brian McCarson

CTO IoT Strategy and Senior Principal Engineer Strategy and Solutions Enabling Division of IoTG, Intel Corporation

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Brian McCarson is the CTO of IoT Strategy and is a Senior Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation. He has a Master of Science in Materials Science and Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Brian specializes in system architectures for IoT, data extraction, data visualization, innovative data analytics, and multivariate problem solving. He leads the Technology and Standards Team within Intel’s Internet of Things Group Strategy and Solutions Enabling Division and is the system architect overseeing the Intel IoT Platform.


According to your 3 videos that you published on Intel.com, where does Security fall into the 3 Phases of IOT? What are your concerns at each stage? 
In the first phase of IoT (Connecting the Unconnected) security is relatively easy. You have one object or “Thing” that is stationary and someone has to manually install something to bring the Internet and connectivity to that “Thing”. The physical process of bolting the connectivity on to the back of a pump or putting that into a car establishes the security or trust you need. You can then provision that device, connect to it, and give it an IP address and track it pretty well. It gets exponentially more complex as you start moving to the different phases of IoT. In the later phases you have questions like, “what happens when a device is self-provisioned?”, “what happens when a device wakes up and wants to optimize its environment and use another data source next to it?” and “what happens when a device figures out how to change its configuration and settings to optimize performance?”. That is a much higher degree of complexity than you would see in Phase 1. The best example I can give from that is autonomous driving.
Imagine this scenario: one of the most interesting value propositions for autonomous driving is this idea of platooning. It's kind of a cool concept. You get on a freeway and as soon as you hit the on-ramp your car basically takes over and you're just sitting there watching Game of Thrones or something on your tablet and your car pulls right onto the freeway for you and it starts platooning with other cars on the freeway. It can basically operate with maybe a 6-inch distance from the bumpers in front of and behind you. You will have a stack of cars all lined up together just going 80mph down the freeway, reducing drag within a tunnel of air resistance and you'll get better fuel economy and reduced commute times. But that involves being able to trust the cars in front of you to tell you what they are doing. The only way platooning works is if you can trust that if the car in front of you sees a hazard it will communicate with everyone else in the platoon chain in time for them to respond. But when you commute to work you're not going to plan your commute with your neighbors so you can platoon with someone you can personally trust. This has to have a seamless connectivity to all the other vehicles and has to happen across multiple makes and models of cars not just certain vehicles. Multiple manufacturers, networks, and passengers need to agree to cooperate and you have to trust that just because you're communicating with other cars you're not allowing them the ability to drive you into a barricade if someone with malicious intent joins the platoon.
It's so much more complicated in Phase 3 when you are considering what information a system will have to share and who it will be allowed to seamlessly communicate with.


What about as far as external threats?  
Imagine that someone didn't like a city or the type of people that lived in that city. If they can hack into even a handful of vehicles that have a Level 5 automation capability where there is no steering wheel, no gas pedal, and no brakes and takes full control, you are completely at their mercy.
That is an interesting challenge that we have to be able to overcome with autonomous driving. How do you allow for seamless communication between vehicles and still be protected from hacking? Many people are thinking about how to do it. We will probably have to build multiple layers of protection.
So, the first layer could be a hard-wired, functionally safe system within the vehicle that has its own private in-vehicle network and allows you to have all the sensors and actuators controlling things independently and nothing can interfere with that. The next layer could be the informational awareness layer where you are sensing the external environment beyond what the vehicle’s sensors can see and you can take those bits of information and then filter as you need to.
That partitioning can be done now. You can have one-way firewalls where no data can come in but data can go out. But part of the problem is that manufacturers are making more vehicles with wireless and wired connections for additional access to media capabilities. One could argue that there needs to be a strong separation between media-based electronics and vehicle control-based electronics in your vehicle architecture.


What superpower do you want most? 
Manipulating time, time travel would be the best.


What is computing in the Fog? 
Fog is probably one of my favorite subjects. Before I can explain my thoughts on Fog I need to explain my thoughts on the Cloud. The thing that is great about the cloud is that it makes it easy for almost anyone to afford having data center capabilities at their fingertips without having to buy their own ridiculously expensive data center. You can allow people to have little packets of data center compute and storage usage and have a kind of communal data center business model. Facebook is a great example of that. They buy and manage enormous data centers and you only use the tiny little portion that you need for your links, networks, and photos. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are also great examples of that model and they offer a great economic value proposition that allow individuals or even startups who could never afford the initial costs of building their own data center to jump right into the market.
There are some problems with the Cloud however.
There are some limits in physics and economics that are really hard to overcome. For example, if you own a retail store and you need to stream 4k or 8k resolution video because you want to be able to look at the video and analyze it in real-time so that you can know the demographics in your store and decide how you want to advertise to your customers based on who the people are that are walking through the door. To do this takes A LOT of high-resolution video data. Streaming all of that to a remote data center is very expensive and time consuming and the economics don’t always make sense for a Cloud-based system architecture.
The same is true for fully automated vehicles. If you are having your autonomous car drive your child to school and it sees a hazard, you are going to want that automated car to decide to apply brakes immediately and on its own and not have to dial up to ask if the Cloud if they should apply the brakes. The time latency of making decisions when you have to send information to the Cloud is another problem.
When it is foggy outside that means the clouds are down at ground level and immersed around you. Fog Computing is a metaphor for bring the power of Cloud Computing (which by definition is remote) down to where users and “Things” are in an immersive way. Fog is around us, it's immersive. If you think about an autonomous vehicle it's a data center on wheels, even if it doesn't have a wide area network connection it can keep you safe without it. Fog is interesting to me because it can solve key problems: cost of data transmissions, reliability of access to the cloud, and the latency or time it takes to make a decision. Fog is not for every application. But for some it can completely change the way they operate.
The cost of computing, connectivity and storage is dropping so fast because it is commoditized. Take a single transistor, the same kind that sits in in the brain of your tablet, smartphone or laptop, it can switch on and off up to 10 billion times in a second. To put things in perspective, if you wanted to switch a light switch on and off 10 billion times it would take you over 200 years without any sleep, food or bathroom breaks. Yet the cost of producing those transistors is less than the cost to grow a single grain of rice in rural China. The cheapest unit of food on the planet is more expensive to produce than the most complex unit of compute. That's the phenomenal reality of the compute and connectivity we have in the world today. Fog computing is now becoming practical whereas 10 years ago it would have been cost-prohibitive. I get so excited when I try and imagine the possibilities. It's going to be interesting to see how our homes, schools, workplace and the rest of our daily lives will evolve with Fog technologies coming to market.


What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid? 
I wanted to be a paleontologist from a really early age. I was completely obsessed with dinosaurs when I was a kid. I was born in New Mexico. My grandpa was an outdoorsman and I would go out rock hunting and gold mining with him. I got my undergrad in Geology but unfortunately, there just weren't any jobs at all at the time I graduated. I switched my direction and decided to go into Materials Science and Electrical Engineering and this helped me switch to the semiconductor industry.


What song best describes your work ethic?  
My go-to jam before giving a presentation is always Dr. Dre because it gets me pumped up. For my last Intel talk in China I had them play the intro to "Nothing but a G Thing" as I walked out on stage. But the song that best describes my work ethic would probably be something from Radiohead. Maybe "No surprises" by Radiohead. The lyrics are kind of interesting and that's my favorite band and that song was my ringtone for a long time.


If you were giving guidance to someone in engineering what advice would you give them?  
I'll give a few answers to that question.
Here is my technology answer: I think as a society, we've figured out a lot of problems with connectivity, compute, and storage and have many of those issues worked out. We haven't figured out how to replicate the human mind and the things we take for granted. You can walk down the street and see someone walking towards you and your brain automatically registers that it is someone you recognize but you don’t necessarily know why. Your brain scanned and registering the shape of their facial features, the way they walk, the way they carry themselves and decided that you recognize them as one of your friends. We take for granted how easy that is for us to do, but we are still figuring out how to do that with computers and cameras. But some of the advancements in compute technology around cognitive neural networks, machine learning and deep learning are helping get us closer. In the field of science called Biomimicry, we are starting to replicate some of the ways biological systems like arrays of neurons have structured themselves and see if we can apply those natural methods to the way computers think. The whole field of artificial intelligence to me is one of the most fantastic technology areas in the coming decades.
How do you teach a computer to do much more than if/then statements? Teach it patterns, and sub patterns. Teach it to observe and learn and make its own if/then statements. It's a very different way of approaching the science of computing. We used to only assign computers to do mundane tasks and workloads. What prohibits us from assigning computers do the miraculous? Apply computing technology to perform complex analysis of someone's DNA and their blood profile and discover they are at risk for kidney failure. Then recommend changes to their diet and medications/supplements to protect their health. Why can't you employ a computer to do more of that advanced thinking. If I was in college I would focus on AI machine learning and deep learning and not much else.
This is the marketplace answer: What differentiates scientists from engineers is that scientists ask questions and test hypotheses to learn. Engineers use science and those same methodologies to solve problems. If learning and advancing the knowledge humankind has of our universe motivates you, then academia is likely the best path for you. If you want to be addressing the market issues that people are facing with their daily lives, learn what isn’t working and what can be improved with technology to address those issues, then engineering may be a better choice for you. Addressing market problems with end users in mind is the best way to make money in business, combine that with the right technology and you have a recipe for engineering success. I tell all my employees that I'm not interested in just doing cool experiments or inventing cool technology. I'm interested in solving real end user and real customer problems with technology. I like the combination, that's where the most interesting magic happens.

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Managed Solution is conducting interviews as part of an outreach initiative to share trends and engage technology enthusiasts in the southwest.


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Ken Lawonn

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Sharp HealthCare

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Ken Lawonn is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Sharp HealthCare. In his role he is responsible for continuing to move Sharp forward in the implementation of advanced technologies to support the transformation of healthcare through the Sharp Experience. He joined the Sharp team in February 2014.
Lawonn has over 35 years’ experience in healthcare technology leadership. Prior to joining Sharp, Lawonn served as the Senior Vice President for strategy and technology at Alegent Creighton Health in Omaha, NE. Under his leadership, Alegent was recognized as a leader in the deployment of technology to support integrated clinical care. Lawonn also served as the Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Banner Health and Lutheran Health Systems in Fargo, ND.
Lawonn received his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Minnesota and an MBA from the University of Nebraska. He is a member of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). 

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What are the top 3 areas of focus for IT executives?
Security is one of the top 3 areas because it can cause both financial and reputational damage. Analytics is a big focus for us, especially in healthcare because we spend so much time automating our data, now we have to spend time figuring out how to leverage that data. The 3rd one is incorporating a digital strategy and how we transform operations. In healthcare, we have to move out of this operational model toward a digital model and how we leverage clinical data to make better decision making. Healthcare is data rich, knowledge poor. We have all this unstructured data and have to figure out how we bring all of that data together.
What’s your take on Public Cloud?
We have been hesitant because of privacy issues. Early on the public providers couldn't support business associate agreements. Cloud is revolutionizing the way computing is provided. It's changing the way we think about computing. Hybrid clouds have shifted an alternative view to the public cloud. It's really large scale computing served up on demand. It's changing the way we think about it and the way other providers think about computing services. I think It's the early phase of where we are headed.
We don't use Office 365 yet. We use SAAS and most are run in private datacenters. We are looking at if we really need to own this stuff and run a mixture of cloud services and on premise services. We are moving out of our primary datacenter. We are looking at both Las Vegas and Phoenix because of cost and concerns about environmental issues like earthquakes and fires, they can protect us in those areas.
What superpower do you want most?
I don't have any interest in having a superpower. Reading people's minds might be kind of fun. I always felt you're better to be seen as more of a partner and equal. If you have a superpower you come across as superior and is truly hard to be effective that way.
When you were a kid what did you want to grow up to be?
After I got through the Hercules phase, I really wanted to be a major league baseball player, center field. I just couldn't hit a curve ball. I've always been a NY Yankee's fan. 
How is IT helping to drive revenue through the company?
We are looking at taking our current assets to expose those services to more people and make them more readily available through things like telehealth, video based, online services which allows us to extend services without having to build new buildings, or have people come to us. Using technology makes things more convenient for individuals. You can schedule an online visit with a physician, or a nurse practitioner and use it for follow up visits. It doesn't always make sense for you to come back in. Very easily you can do things online, at your convenience, and even after hours. We use technology to understand if we are providing the best treatment, and make sure we are not penalized or making sure we are effectively leveraging our payment process. and that we are effectively leveraging technology to help increase revenues.
We partner with Cerner primarily and do some work with Allscripts. We look at what technologies can run those platforms, then we pick a storage partner to work with. It's not unusual for a healthcare organization to have hundreds of applications that they are supporting.
We are hearing so much about the internet of things – what does or could the internet of things for your business look like?
We see it as huge. Both in what it is able to provide us and the elements to support it. Today we have invested heavily into integrating medical devices into our electronic data records, from pumps to monitors. We are going to actually make all the devices able to communicate, in kind of a standard that we can accept and look at. We have chronic patients with diabetes or congestive heart failure. We need to keep track of them at home to see if they are weighing themselves, etc. We have devices that can relay that information automatically to us so we don't have to go out to their home. We see tremendous advantage in using those kinds of capabilities. We can monitor and track patients to provide better care at a lower cost. Having a connected world of all these devices, helps healthcare leverage continued monitoring and the movement toward consumer involvement in their health. Some data is meaningless so we are learning how do we collect, interpret and leverage that data. Adding more data that in unactionable or not meaningful is a challenge. 
Are there hiring challenges based in the economy we’re currently facing today? Or is it a challenge of finding the right skillsets and expertise?
In our business, it's often a combination of skillset and cultural fit. The provider side of healthcare doesn't always pay the best compared to biotech companies. We are looking for people that are attracted to serving and helping people. We hire more for fit. Our challenges are in a couple areas like management level positions, and those high sought after skills like security, data scientists and web developers. We mostly hire Southern CA based individuals and they don't need a healthcare background in certain positions. We are very service oriented and deliver the Sharp experience, which is our brand- a team approach. You can't bulldoze change. We are an organization that changes very slowly.
What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/Key Executives about their partnership with IT?  
We've gone from IT being a backend service, to being partners with the business, which is still a critical approach. It is the engine for business transformation and growth. There is hardly anything we look at that doesn't have technology involved in some way. There is so much technology available, pick the right technology and hold people accountable to leverage it and provide value. We have to think about how we bend the cost curve. We can't keep increasing the spend if there isn't some return. We have to work together and they want us to make it simple, make it work. How do we transform to become a different kind of business, become more of a digital, real time business. You can't just keep adding on cost. Everyone likes to add stuff, nobody likes to take things away.
CIO's are becoming more like change agents and transformational leaders. The message is we've got to be nimble, faster, more accessible. One of the biggest challenges is everybody seems to be an expert in technology today, with our watches, our phones, they have this sense about what things should be able to do and they don't always understand the complications in how to make it work and make it easy to use.
Has the idea of using cloud changed your mindset of using outsourced/Managed Services?
It's changed the outsourcing model, we used to think it was turning it over to someone else. Now we think of purchasing services, and renting storage as a service. It's just different thinking. The message we keep saying is let's stop worrying about who owns it or where is it physically. Let's think about what's the best way to provide a service to our organization and that's just different today than it used to be.
If you could give guidance to any IT Manager/Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them?
If they want to be successful they have to invest in knowing the business and the customers they are serving and how to form a partnership with key business leaders to support, grow and sometimes transform that business. They are relying on you to help them understand what can be applied and what the requirements are and how to leverage them. Think about your resources differently. Do you have to own it or can you rent it.

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Managed Solution is conducting interviews as part of an outreach initiative to share trends and engage technology enthusiasts in the southwest.


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Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Thermo Fisher Scientific

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.
Joe Beery was named Senior Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2014, following the company’s acquisition of Life Technologies. During his tenure as leader of Thermo Fisher’s global Information Technology infrastructure, Joe has been instrumental in cultivating unified, “One Team” culture, emphasizing and improving operational reliability, and focusing on innovative strategies, such as the implementation of eCommerce and Cloud solutions, to best serve the business and its customers
Joe served as the Senior Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for Life Technologies since taking the position at Invitrogen in 2008. In this role, he directed the development and operation of the company’s information technology systems and eCommerce website. He also spearheaded the implementation of IT programs to support the merger of Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems in 2008.
Prior to Invitrogen, Joe was Chief Information Officer at US Airways and America West Airlines for 10 years. Previously, he spent 10 years at Motorola Semiconductor, holding various positions in the computer integrated manufacturing group, and also served as a manufacturing and software engineer at NV Philips in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and business computer systems from the University of New Mexico. He is a member of the Board of Rare Genomics a nonprofit supporting the use of Genomics in diagnosing rare disease and previously on the Board of CypherGenomics, a software and services in Next Generation sequencing.


What is your focus this year?

You have to go into a deeper IT perspective, we do a lot of software development and cloud for all of our integral platforms. One of our biggest priorities is IT transformation within the organization and with our customers. We are moving to a digital science company.
We have a very large portfolio of major manufacturing, it’s a very product focused company. Our biggest priority, when we think of our customers and the future, is the integration of our platforms. They are searching for an answer, and the answer is a digital answer.
We have the largest life sciences cloud in the industry, with over 50K users, launched about a 1.5 years ago. First priority is the integration of our business with our IT capabilities. Scientists store data in the cloud, our global platform, attaching that is a science capability.  We’re connecting the entire workflow with consumables and analytics. The cloud to our customers is incredibly important. With customer and data analytics, we have the ability to see not only what a customer spends but what kind of experiments they are doing.
The IT organization is in the middle of every one of the company’s long-termsteps, whether it’s our sales process, it’s all connected. We are merging technologies, with over 150K users, providing our customers with better services. The first priority is driving the company to a digital business. It’s huge. It’s really something that we’re moving through as quickly as possible.

Where does the Cloud fit in your organization?

We are one of the largest life sciences customers of AWS. We are moving away to not do cloud on premise. It’s all done with major partners. Around our strategy, with over 2K IT people globally we decided to invest. We are actively moving our E commerce capabilities and internal systems to the cloud- to AWS. For a company of our size, we surprisingly have a small data center footprint. Our large portfolio is not completely in the cloud. We have a Cloud First Strategy. I don’t sign a purchase agreement for any hardware equipment on premise. We classify our 3 part strategy as Born in the Cloud, Transitioning to the Cloud and then Cloud as an Infrastructure.  Can a provider, be our long term future? We believe so.  We are going through HIPPA and all the security steps. To really get the value out of the cloud you have to use somebody else who does it really well. Amazon can hire more people in their security group than I can hire in my IT organization in a single year.

How do you view security from an identity management perspective? 

We continue to look at that over and over, we are thoughtful about our customers. Thermo Fisher Scientific is now a conglomeration of thousands of acquisitions. Everything is driven through thermofisher.com, we have one identity management strategy through that platform that is secure.  Internally we are using an Oracle platform.  It’s a journey and there has to be patience, you do the best job working with your security partners. I just hired a new CSO.  I’m running as fast as I can to pull those platforms together. It’s a constant journey. When people are logging in to use systems, there are different passwords, yeah, it’s just where we are.

As a CIO, as you look at the transition of your background. What have you had to tweak in your thought  process? Things like becoming more fiscally responsible since you are more OpX spend, things like that? Have you felt you have to take on a different leadership style because of cloud? 

Yeah, I’ve only really been in 3 industries. As a CIO of my tenure, it’s interesting, I haven’t jumped around a lot. Semiconductors, airlines and now life sciences. Using emerging technologies and advanced technologies that we have available to us today, the biggest challenge is retooling the leadership to think in one particular way. It’s two things but the first is you have to move absolutely as fast as possible. You have to move your investment profile from infrastructure to value added activities. You have to move from legacy datacenter, heavy metal capability, to what are the things that are going to move the needle for the business. None of our budgets get that much bigger, they grow through inheriting companies or a big initiative. The biggest challenge is hiring leadership, that all the things we used to do 5-10 years ago have to substantially change in order to reinvest. In the future people will hire drastically different and make the transformation in thinking because maybe you could ride that on premise horse for a little longer, but if you don’t get off,  you’re really going to lose the battle.  Everybody is looking to take advantage of that different profile. That is the mantra executives are getting. Same amount of dollars, more capability, now the challenge is OPX vs. CAPX. We feel like we’re ahead of the game, we projected this.

What is your CEO asking from you?

 My CEO is looking to move to cloud strategy faster.  We feel good about the position we are in. The CEO never thought we would say this but we’re the competitive advantage for the company. The biggest concern that’s on their mind is it’s an incredibly target rich environment because we can do things better than we’ve done before. You really can think differently. That’s what we’re trying to get our heads around. In the next 5 years it’s going to be drastically different. You won’t have silos, you will really drive your business differently. The question is what do we go after first that’s going to drive the best amount of value. The speed we can move is so much faster, you don’t want to make mistakes, you want to invest in the right things. We can go a lot faster than we’ve gone in the past. Your investment dollars aren’t going to go up much, a little but not much. It’s about if it’s being put in the right place. We focus on 3 things. We operate as 1 team, win with the basics – cloud has to have reliability, scalability. The 3rd thing is what are you going to do to move the needle? Those are all great- what will drive the greatest amount of value using emerging and advanced technologies.

You’re gathering all this big data that sits in the cloud. Where are you getting that data from? Are you able to govern and look at data analytics, talk to me about IOT. 

 IOT is very interesting in some cases many industries have been doing it for a while. It’s more enabled now. The way we think of that is how we think of the lab of the future, changing the way our customers view our products. That could be anything from sophisticated instruments to anything we see in their workflow.  How do we automate that workflow?  Use the internet of things to drive that a lot faster.  Mobility is really driving us internally more than anything. How do we automate our customers workflow. With BI and analytics it’s really a target rich environment for us both internally and externally. We are connecting all of our salesforce all around lead management. We are in silos.  We did a lot of work crunching our CRM data and systems to better enhance our sales agents to manage leads. When you look at the customers we have and at the complexity of our portfolio that’s a great opportunity for us. As we continue to roll out the cloud it gets us closer to the customer.
That is the beauty of where Thermo Fisher is. We have the biggest portfolio. If you look at the actual scientific analysis. We are using genomic data to help doctors and clinicians do a better job at servicing their clients. We are at the very beginning of learning how big data can learn from data, connect them together and ultimately drive better decisions.  The product in airlines was a seat. You measured every seat every mile. Semiconductors was a semiconductor. You sold power controllers. In our world, we sell these products, have warehouse full of products. At the end of the day it’s all a digital answer.  What type of cancer do I have and what is the best treatment.
That’s why I love the company, the industry, this is the last place I will ever work. When you look at what we do, the mission is to make the world healthier, cleaner, safer, and that is all digital. So this is going to change the way you live and I live. I have 2 kids alive today because of what the company does. They were both born with a rare genetic disorder, and because of our instruments they found the diagnosis, the rare genetic mutation and treated it and they take medication 3 times a day and it was this digital answer. When I think of the future of big data you see a future that is really different for everyone.

Talk to me about back up and disaster recovery.

For on premise things we have SunGuard and the normal capabilities. We think of AWS and Microsoft, the investment profile that they’re putting into this capability far exceeds anything else that anyone can do. What are we doing differently, how are we investing- It’s all of those dollars our execs want us to trim to invest in what will move the needle. We have a great relationship with Microsoft, Oracle, and AWS and over time we will continue to mix it up.

Any challenges with hiring?

You have to groom them from within. It’s really exciting internally here. We had over 200 people go over DevOps training in the Amazon platform. We have very few data centers. From a training perspective it’s a pretty exciting opportunity. You have to train them yourself, it will pay off, there just isn’t enough folks out there right now. We have a pretty aggressive training platform.


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_row][vc_column heading_color="primary-1"][vc_empty_space][grve_callout title="Tech Spotlight Interviews" button_text="Learn more" button_link="url:http%3A%2F%2Finfo.managedsolution.com%2Fc-level-interview-registration||target:%20_blank|"]IT is a journey, not a destination. We want to hear about YOUR journey!
Are you a technology innovator or enthusiast?
We would love to highlight you in the next edition of our Tech Spotlight.[/grve_callout][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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To download the full magazine and read the full interviews, click here.

Todd is Vice President of Global Infrastructure and IT Operations for Western Digital, the world’s largest data storage company.  In this role, he is responsible for on-premise and cloud computing, global network, communications, data storage and data centers.  Additional responsibilities include support for high-performance, engineering, and manufacturing computing, as well as desktop productivity and end-user service and support.  Prior to Western Digital, he was responsible for IT Operations and Infrastructure for AMN Healthcare, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and Siebel Systems.  Todd holds an MBA from the University of Georgia. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][grve_single_image image="17940"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What’s the #1 area of focus CIO’s should concentrate on?

CIOs are really the technology CEO of their company. The primary goal of a company is to attract and retain customers. Therefore, the CIO should be highly focused on the business strategy for attracting and retaining customers. Many executive peers remain technologically naïve – a CIO has to understand every part of the business, every function, and then be able to advise those functions on meeting those goals through technology. The most successful CIO will truly understand every business function.

What’s your take on Public Cloud?

WDC is a thought leader with public cloud, we are a very large customer of AWS, and we also hold the world’s record for the largest computing job ever run in AWS (we’re broken our own record several times). We are increasing our usage of Azure – Microsoft is really making progress making that service more relevant. Actually, Microsoft is a completely different company from 3 years ago, in a good way. Public cloud is one of several tools for corporate computing, but not one that solves every need – or will ever solve every need. This is a hybrid world.

What areas come to top of mind today when looking at Public Cloud?

Public Cloud isn’t cheap. Some things run cheaper on premise. Sometimes you have capital to spend, and public cloud is only OpX. Fit the right tool to the right job, this is a hybrid world.

Do you feel IT still carries the title of a cost center rather than revenue driver?

That solely depends on the CIO. WDC is a merged combination of WD, HGST, and SanDisk. 3 years ago, WD and HGST viewed IT solely as a cost center to be minimized. Now, our company views IT as a key enabler for marketing, sales, manufacturing, business intelligence, supply chain, and productivity. This change occurred because our CIO and his team set out to understand every facet of our business, and then focused on delivering innovation at every opportunity. “Keeping the lights on”, low-value work was moved to SaaS and cloud, allowing our internal resources to focus on innovation and delivering value.

What are you (the CIO) doing to support innovation in the company and its own organization to deliver better solutions?

Understanding and getting directly involved in every facet of the business, and then using that knowledge to craft innovative solutions that solve problems. Examples:
a. highly-complex, cloud engineered big data solutions leading to improved manufacturing yields and improved product quality
b. SaaS hosted applications that allow people to be productive, anywhere on any device
c. Manufacturing application consolidation and virtualization leading to reduced cost and higher uptime for factories

We are hearing so much about the internet of things – what does or could the internet of things for your business look like?

We love the IoT, because all of that data ends up on our products! WDC now views itself as a key enabler of future progress. IoT will provide gigantic data sets – which our products will host – that will yield advancements in medicine, technology, economics, science, and every other field. The solution to every problem is somewhere in that data swamp, and we will be part of pulling knowledge from it. Internally, IoT has already been helping us for years in our manufacturing processes.

Are there hiring challenges based in the great economic we’re currently facing today?

We are having good success recruiting good people. The globalization of the labor market helps somewhat, but we are able to hire leaders in the US as needed.

Has the idea of using cloud changed your mindset of using outsourced/Managed Services?

Our preference for providing technology services is first to use SaaS, so we can get totally out of that business (email, HRIS, file sharing, etc). Then either cloud or on-premise depending on the ROI and circumstances. We find value in specific managed services, such as network monitoring/NOC services or system administration. There is a place for managed services, because cloud isn’t going to do it all.

If you could give guidance to any CIO, IT Manager Director about how they position their careers what would you tell them?

Know your technology – that’s a given – but you must know your business. Get involved with them, understand their goals and challenges, and seek to address them. Most people will accept the help when it comes from a spirit of partnership and mutual success. Failure to do so just leads to “shadow IT” – they will do your job themselves.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner css=".vc_custom_1526366999142{padding-top: 50px !important;padding-right: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 50px !important;padding-left: 50px !important;background-color: #ec884f !important;}"][vc_column_inner][grve_callout title="MEET THE TECH EXEC INTERVIEWS" heading_tag="h2" heading="h2" button_text="LEARN MORE" button_color="green" button_hover_color="white" button_link="url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.managedsolution.com%2Fmeet-the-c-level-interview%2F|||" el_class="txt-white"]Managed Solution is conducting interviews as part of an outreach initiative to share trends and engage technology enthusiasts in the southwest.[/grve_callout][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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