Covering the length and breadth universe so to speak, we sought insights from 3 distinguished CIO’s, asking them to look at their agendas for the coming year. Each was from a different business vertical. NASA, a government agency born out of the cold war competition with the old Soviet Union, embodies our national aspirations. NASA has a thoughtful CIO in Linda Cureton, whose IT is charged with facilitating a grand mission. Ameristar Casinos has a strong CIO in Sheleen Quish, who heads both HR and IT, managing people, processes, and technology for an organization in the business of creating an experience for its guests. Guess? is a retail chain whose IT is headed by Mike Relich, a CIO on the cutting edge of an IT that embraces social media and mobility as communication and marketing tools.
Chief Information Officer Linda Cureton’s agenda for the coming year has a people focus as her IT works at managing valuable data and cutting costs. “One of the mistakes that CIO’s have a tendency to make is to think more about technology than the people who are served by the technology…” NASA’s mission is to help mankind answer the big fundamental questions about where we come from and where we’re going. NASA seeks “uber-collaboration” across boundaries, as it gathers Big Data that has to be transmitted securely, quickly and safely. Her IT has to consider the outcome of technology not just the technology itself, and IT cost containment is an important issue, “…peeling off enough pennies to do something to demonstrate the value and demonstrate how this can help us save money.” (Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA)
Ameristar Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Sheleen Quish’s IT has a mission that is more down to earth than NASA’s – to find ways to create a “fun, memorable, engaging experience for guests.” The use of technology is business driven, and focuses on ways to enhance the casino experience and create better service points. Costs are contained by IT strategies that leverage even really basic technology in better and smarter ways…” there are only so many resources that you can put in because it’s based on your revenues. You step back and say, ‘is this or that old application meeting out needs and meeting our investment?’ If we can free up the dollars and put more toward innovation and R&D that is going to get us more.” Analytics are hugely important to the gaming business, for insights into how to market to the individual guests, and Social Media is not just for sales outreach, but is valued additionally for talent acquisition and retention strategies! Now and into the future, Ameristar’s IT will keep up on the information on a variety of technologies so it is” versed and ready to bring a discussion to the table as business needs evolve.” (Sheleen Quish, SVP of HR and IT, Ameristar Casinos)
Guess? Chief Information Officer Mike Relich finds that there are “several trends in computing that are changing our agenda” for the future: The Consumerization of IT, the strain of Big Data on their data center combined with the urgency to mine the data analytics and the challenge of finding ways to monetize social media and leverage it for business. Guess? is looking for ways to Leverage social media as a “CRM database.” The business has been stymied by SaaS which is not yet providing the level of service that users need in the retail industry. For the future, business will look for ways to take consumer technology and integrate it into the shopping experience. On his agenda, he is planning to look at his IT and develop an ROI case to spend rather than pinch pennies, but do it in a way that is going to generate revenue. (Mike Relich, EVP & CIO, Guess?)
What are the common denominators for all these organizations? Something we hear over and over, the importance of people and relationships to IT leadership and business, be it cooperation across national boundaries for NASA, or ways of reaching customers and personal for businesses like Ameristar Casinos or Guess?. As Linda Cureton, CIO of NASA put it: “One of the mistakes that CIO’s have a tendency to make is to think more about technology than the people who are served by the technology…”