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Lenovo GM Kim Stevenson’s Journey From CIO To Innovating For Them

6/25/18

By Peter High. Published on Forbes

Lenovo’s Kim Stevenson Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Data Center Solutions division has had a variety of roles in information technology. At technology behemoths such as IBM, EDS, and HPE, she worked on internal operations, but also gained her first exposure to customers who were technology executives. At Intel, she went from General Manager of IT Operations and Services to Chief Information Officer.

As CIO, she had an strong external customer orientation based on her experience prior to that. As a result, she quickly gained invitations to join boards. (She has served on the boards of Cloudera, Riverbed Technology, and she currently serves on the board of the wealth management and private banking company, Boston Private.) During her time as CIO, she was in the first class of Forbes CIO Innovation Award winners based on her team’s contribution of more than $1 billion in value to the company based on analytics. She would eventually rise to Chief Operating Officer, Client, IoT and System Architecture Group at Intel.

When she joined Lenovo in March of 2017, she did so with a remarkably rich set of experiences across the technology sector. As a result, she is an unusually well connected and highly regarded in the IT community. Now that she serves CIOs as clients again, she sees three things that CEOs and boards expect of CIOs: re imagining customer experience, driving productivity inside the enterprise, and delivering new products and services. She and her team are poised to help CIOs deliver all three, as she notes (among other themes) herein.

To listen to an unabridged audio version of this interview, please click this link.

Peter High: You are now the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Data Center Solutions division of Lenovo. Could you describe your role and your responsibilities?

Kim Stevenson: At Lenovo, we aligned our Data Center Solutions division with our important customer segments, which is how we run our business. Each of those customer segments then report up into my organization.

We have the classic data center infrastructure segment, which is servers, networks, storage, and the like. We also have a high-performance computing artificial intelligence segment, as well as a hyperscale segment. We have software-defined infrastructure as the emerging business model for enterprises, which is a high growth opportunity for Lenovo. In January, we added two new divisions for IoT and telco, both of which relate to the rollout of 5G.

The telco market is at a fundamental inflection point. We want to help drive a new, efficient infrastructure into the telco space. This plays into IoT, which will be all endpoints that are going to be connected in the world. And of course, there are data center implications for having multiple, new types of endpoints connecting into the network.

High: You were a former buyer of technology as the CIO of Intel. You rose beyond that role and became the Chief Operating Officer of the Client, IoT, and Systems Architecture Group. Now you are on the other side of the table as someone delivering to CIOs among others. How do you engage the customer set, and what was the transition like from one side of the table to the other?

Stevenson: Even before I joined Intel, I was with EDS and HP Enterprise Services running IT for customers and selling IT services to the CIO organization. When I moved to Intel to run internal IT, I felt like I was becoming my customer. Having that 360-degree view served me extraordinarily well. There were days when I thought to myself, “Why would anyone try to sell you this? It is just not practical.” There were also days that I felt I could understand more of what was possible from an innovation vector because I had seen many different types of accounts.

This is the next chapter, which is coming back to the business side. Now more than ever, the voice of the CIO in every company is becoming more strategic and more critical to the raw execution of the company. There is no business process in any company today that executes without some form of IT at its core. When I look at the role of the CIO today, I see three things that the board of directors and the CEO expect.

  1. They expect the CIO to re-imagine and define the customer experience.
  2. They expect extreme productivity inside of their corporation. Every CEO wants 20 percent more to the bottom line than they are getting today.
  3. They expect that they invent and deliver new products and services to allow them to grow in the company.

At Lenovo, I focus on helping the IT organization deliver on those three fundamental strategic priorities that exist in every company.

High: Can you expand on the translation of those general ideas to the way in which you are doing that in concert with the business?

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