The C-Suite Speaks: Executive Priorities for 2020
To be a business leader, you have to lead in tech.
By Chris Murphy | February 2020
No matter whether you’re leading finance, human resources, or marketing, you must drive the tech strategy discussion. Your team needs confidence that it has the right tools, the tools that change what’s possible in your discipline. Here’s what that tech leadership looks like from the vantage point of five C-level executives, spanning IT, finance, HR, information security, and marketing.
1. CIO: Speed Is the Cloud’s Killer AppWhen Gap Inc. CIO Sally Gilligan looks at the benefits of moving to the cloud, speed trumps cost savings.
“We were after the faster iterative turns in our development of new capabilities,” Gilligan says. “Our desire is to be able to bring new capabilities to our customers faster and continue to focus on where we believe we bring the innovation, but with partners that can help us create those environments to innovate.”
2. CFO: Don’t Let Finance Be the Bottleneck
The struggle is real: Tracking down and reconciling data for reports and the monthly close puts finance at a growing disadvantage, warns Howard Morof, CFO of Altair, which provides software and cloud systems for product development, high-performance computing, and data analytics.
“The demands today of making decisions in much closer to real time are ever-present in businesses of all kinds—and those decisions have to take into account larger amounts of varying data,” Morof says. “Like all of my counterparts, I’m focused on closing our books faster—and that will take the integration of a range of systems.”
3. CHRO: To Keep Talent, Build a Relationship
Adventist Health believes that its cloud-based systems offer a way for the healthcare network to retain its best people—whether it’s a self-service system that enables an associate to answer a benefits question or a learning management system that helps leaders shape education offerings.
“More than ever, one of our top priorities is to make sure everything we do is geared to helping our associates be more efficient, effective, and engaged with us,” says John Beaman, chief human resources officer of Adventist Health. “The cloud helps us deepen our relationship with them.”
4. CISO: Create a Neighborhood Watch
David McLeod, chief information security officer at Cox Media, believes that the more eyes you have watching information systems, the less likely a slip-up is—and the quicker any breaches will be caught and corrected.
“Train everyone so you have a wall of passionate people surrounding your business. I'm talking about creating a neighborhood watch,” McLeod says. “I find people who are eager to know what they can do, and they help expand our culture of proactive protection akin to a neighborhood watch. So if I’m going to drive security for the least cost and the highest effectiveness, I'm always increasing my neighborhood watch.”
5. CMO: Sift Insight from the Noise
Vodafone Business CMO Iris Meijer and her team have done a lot over the past two years: launched a new brand for Vodafone’s enterprise division, introduced dozens of business services in 19 markets, and more. But Meijer knows there is much more opportunity to be found.
“We’re sitting on a wealth of information that our customers have told us about their needs, but mining that data on its own doesn’t give us any insight or competitive advantage,” Meijer says. To uncover signals of “purchase intent” and align with customer needs, “we need to differentiate between noise and relevant insights, and we need to do it in a compliant way.”
Chris Murphy is editorial director at Oracle. He was previously editor of InformationWeek. You can follow him on Twitter @murph_cj.
Photography courtesy of Gap Inc., Altair, Adventist Health, Cox Media and Vodafone Business
Illustration by Oracle