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Nick Colisto, Chief Information Officer at Xylem

By Peter High, published on Forbes
5/29/17

Nick Colisto is the CIO of $4.5 billion water technology company Xylem, a company that was created after the trivestiture from ITT Corporation in 2011. The spin off combined five businesses that would also add a sixth in 2016 with the $1.8 billion acquisition of a company called Sensus. Colisto joined the company in 2012, and drove many steps to help implement CEO Patrick Decker’s vision to operate as a single company. He was able to draw upon the playbook he has created, much of which was codified in a book of the same name: The CIO Playbook: Strategies and Best Practices for IT Leaders to Deliver Value. The efforts centered around creating a common business operating platform (common processes, business software, and infrastructure) to enable people to work better together, produce more, and deliver superior product and service experiences to customers.

Now, multiple years into his journey as CIO, Colisto leads a team that drives strategic digital transformation initiatives to drive new solutions, several of which are customer facing. He has created a culture that is more cognizant of the needs of the company, customers, and shareholders. In the process, Colisto’s team has contributed mightily to the bottom line of the company in the process. He describes his journey in detail in this interview.

Peter High: Nick, you are the CIO of Xylem. The company was created in October 2011 as part of a trivestiture from ITT and became a stand-alone global water technology company. Can you provide a basic description of the business?

Nick Colisto: Xylem is a $4.5 billion company with about 16,000 employees across the world. It is a world leader in the design, manufacturing, and application of highly engineered technologies for the water industry. We are a leading equipment and service provider for water and wastewater applications. Xylem has a broad portfolio of products and services that address the full cycle of water from collection to distribution to use to the return of water back into the environment. Xylem has leading market positions among equipment and service providers in core application areas of the water equipment industry including transport, treatment, test, building services, industrial processing, and irrigation. Some of our company brands that people might know are Bell & Gossett and Flygt.

High: I know from our past conversations that you are in the throes of a digital enterprise agenda. You are transforming the way IT works at Xylem. Can you describe the Five Star Model that you are using to accomplish this goal?

Colisto: We are on a transformational journey to create a digital business for Xylem. In the last few years we have built a platform called Xylem’s Integrated System, or XIS, to support this. It is a modernized IT platform that harnesses the power of disruptive technologies including social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and IoT platforms to enable customer engagement, operating efficiency, and growth.

The Five Star Model that we use for selecting technology for XIS was inspired by a model created by Kim Stevenson, formerly of Intel. The five stars are:

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