Paul Beswick’s pathway to become Chief Information Officer of Marsh McLennan is non-traditional to say the least. He joined the company via one of its operating companies, the strategy consultancy, Oliver Wyman. He rose through the ranks at that firm to become a partner and global head of Oliver Wyman Labs and global co-head of Oliver Wyman’s Digital Practice. “It all happened because I walked into the wrong meeting one day and got sucked into the project to design Marsh McLennan’s technology strategy with Scott Gilbert, who was my predecessor,” noted Beswick. “Then got sucked into trying to deliver it, which anyone who’s been a consultant should know, you should never do: you should never both write the strategy and take responsibility for delivering it.”

When he weighed the advantages of his pathway, he noted that he has been in executive committee meetings and boardrooms since he was in his 20s. He also acknowledged that having profit and loss responsibilities in various roles along his ascent at Oliver Wyman likely gives him a better appreciation of technology’s power to grow revenue for Marsh McLennan, not just where it can lead to cost savings.

Beswick’s current post has him overseeing technology for a conglomerate that includes Marsh, the world’s largest insurance broker, Mercer, leader in human resources, benefits, and investment consulting, Guy Carpenter which is in the business of reinsurance broking, along with Oliver Wyman. When he took over as chief information officer roughly three years ago, the company was in the throes of moving from a decentralized IT department to one that exerts much more influence from the center. “That’s a fairly new development in terms of how we’ve been organized. When I took on this role, we were starting the process of bringing what had been business unit-specific technology organizations together into one overall organization,” said Beswick. “Prior to that, we’d had different teams by business, but with a shared infrastructure and security organization in the middle. It’s been an interesting journey trying to forge one team out of what were quite independent teams before.”

Beswick sees a primary job of his as increasing the velocity of the business. “We do a lot of work to understand what slows us down, how we get tangled up in our own processes, where there’s bureaucracy that’s unnecessary, where we fail to engineer solutions to problems that we can engineer solutions to that can help things move significantly more quickly,” he underscored. “A huge chunk of where I spend my own time…is focused on trying to change the efficient frontier between speed, agility on the one hand, and security, compliance, robustness, and resilience, on the other.”

A primary pathway to this for Beswick and his team has been in building a platform strategy, building template projects and defining “patterns” that can be deployed readily, streamlining policy, compliance and nonfunctional aspects of every project that his organization undertakes. “One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve come into this job is how important understanding some of the organizational dynamics are and the points of inefficient but stable equilibrium that exist in organization structure that tend to lock you into patterns that are inefficient and thinking very deliberately about how you break through some of those things,” he said.

Beswick is excited about the amount of innovation driven by technology and his team’s ability to convey the art of the possible to the rest of the company. He thinks about technology in the spectrum of hard things to easy ones. “We are not in the game of doing really hard stuff,” he said. “That’s not the organization that we’re built for, but hard things get easier over time, and there’s this constant shift from more complicated and less accessible but powerful technology into things that are increasingly easy to get our hands on. At some point, there’s this tipping point where the hard becomes easy. If we can be there at the point where things become easy and we understand how to put them into action in a real business against our real processes and our real problems, that’s the area where I think we can create the most value. That requires you to be always playing around at the edge of that transition point and make sure you recognize when that transition has happened.”

A case in point is Marsh McLennan’s foray into generative artificial intelligence. It began by partnering with vendor partners, but that proved to be too expensive. However, when Microsoft made the OpenAI back-ends available in a secure fashion, Beswick and his team discovered that with a little bit of extra engineering, they could make that available to the broader company. The goal was to mirror the remarkable uptick in the use of ChatGPT in society. “I didn’t think we needed to spend a lot of time worrying about precisely what the use cases were,” Beswick admitted. “It felt like the use cases would be emergent. Very quickly after we had access to the [Microsoft OpenAI] APIs in a secure fashion, we created the chat interface on top of that, which is what we call LenAI.”

It took only a day and a half to deliver the first version of LenAI to a pilot group within the company. The focus on making IT a driver of velocity improvements were responsible for such a fast path. Soon a few hundred people had access to LenAI and within 28 days, the entire firm had access to it. “I think we’ve identified [roughly] 300 distinct use cases that people have been putting this to,” said Beswick. “Some are very specifically related to some small part of the business. Others are more generic. We’ve kept an eye on that, capturing that information, and we’re using that to then drive our build-out agenda for some of the things that are going to be more scalable implementations of this.”

Beswick believes his team has moved farther faster by turning the typical process on its head. Typically, people gather use cases, find a business co-sponsor, build a business case, assemble a project team, and then get started. Given Beswick’s need for speed, that was too slow. “By going the other way and driving something more generic out and flushing the use cases out, I think we’ve got further faster,” said Beswick with pride. As a result, “we added a couple of extra capabilities into the basics, [such as] internet search document upload. We do a lot of work with documents, so there’s lots of stuff people are doing with document summarization, with data extraction from documents and translation between languages, which these tools are good at. Email drafting, particularly for people for whom English is not the first language when we’re a business that largely operates in English [has been another powerful use case]. A lot of people are using it to tighten up their communications and streamline things.”

Code writing is another layer of value. Beswick noted with excitement that different parts of LenAI were written by LenAI. This will increasingly become the norm. Additional functionality that has been defined has included calculators, stock price lookups, weather lookups, database querying, and the ability to pull from a variety of news sources. “There are clearly some use cases where you can see transformation of various processes that we would run through today and would be fairly manual where we can really divert resources into much more high-value-added work,” said Beswick. “Those are starting to spin out. A lot of it’s around things like document ingestion, processing, and data extraction. Cross-mapping data from one data source to another, one data structure to another turns out to be a pretty tractable problem as well. I think we’re just scratching the surface as to what those sorts of things will be.”

Beswick and his team have made substantial progress in a short amount of time, living up to his goal of being a force multiplier. He believes he and his team are setting a sound foundation, but even higher levels of value will be achieved by building upon that foundation.

It’s been a big year for technology, with the rise of generative AI sparking new conversations about how tech will shape the future of work and society at large. The books below offer a range of perspectives on recent developments in data and AI, as well as resources to help leaders navigate an increasingly complex and fast-moving technology landscape.

The Coming Wave: Technology, Power, and the Twenty-first Century’s Greatest Dilemma, by Mustafa Suleyman and Michael Bhaskar

Suleyman, the co-founder of DeepMind and Inflection AI, has been a pioneer in artificial intelligence. Bhaskar and he believe the coming decade will bring a diverse selection of intensely capable and fast-proliferating new technologies. In The Coming Wave, they explain how these technologies present an existential dilemma as we work to control them: unregulated use on one side, and overbearing surveillance on the other.

Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon, by Michael Lewis

Lewis’ latest book tells the psychological story of the dramatic rise and fall of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, the world’s youngest billionaire, who became a leader in crypto almost overnight before losing it all. Lewis tells his story from the vantage point of being in the room to witness the rise and the fall first hand.

Move Fast and Fix Things: The Trusted Leader’s Guide to Solving Hard Problems, by Frances X Frei and Anne Morriss

The informal Facebook motto “move fast and break things” gained a lot of traction across businesses but in a somewhat skewed way. It implied that breaking things, no matter the cost, is simply the price organizations pay for innovation.

Best-selling authors and leadership experts Frances Frei and Anne Morriss believe this way of thinking is deeply flawed and hinders leaders from building a truly resilient company. They argue there shouldn’t have to be a tradeoff between speed and excellence, and that companies can solve difficult problems quickly and fix things at the same time. Drawing on work with leading organizations like Uber and ServiceNow, Frei and Morriss identify five key steps, one per each day of the workweek, that leaders can take to solve their organizations’ most complex problems quickly.

Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity, by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson

Acemoglu and Johnson revisit a thousand years of history and economics to demonstrate how technological progress doesn’t have to lead to a loss of human empathy. Power and Progress explores how technology was once – and could be again – brought under control and used for the benefit of most people.

All-in On AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence, by Tom Davenport and Nitin Mittal

All-In on AI is an insightful look into the magic behind the success of the technology’s leading adopters. While most companies are placing small bets on AI, a select few are embracing the technology to transform their products, processes, strategies, and customer relationships and experiences. Using examples from organizations including Anthem, Ping An, Airbus, and Capital One, Davenport and Mittal explore what AI looks like at the cutting edge and help organizations understand what’s needed to take AI to the next level.

The Worlds I See: Curiosity, Exploration, and Discovery at the Dawn of AI, by Fei-Fei Li

In her memoir, Stanford professor and AI pioneer Fei-Fei Li describes how a Chinese immigrant living in poverty in the United States overcame adversity to become one of the leading contributors to modern artificial intelligence. Whether sharing her own journey or exploring the incredible dangers and opportunities AI poses, she tells a story Reid Hoffman describes as “a testament to the power and possibility of humanity.”

Elevate Your Team: Empower Your Team to Reach Their Full Potential and Build a Business that Builds Leaders, by Robert Glazer

Being a leader is a balancing act. Not only must one find and retain top talent, but he or she must also ensure those teams perform at the highest levels and deliver results while avoiding burnout. A follow up to Glazer’s 2019 book, Elevate, this book provides strategies and tools to help leaders unleash their teams’ full potential and build the leaders of tomorrow.

Data Is Everybody’s Business: The Fundamentals of Data Monetization, by Barbara Wixom, Cynthia Beath, and Leslie Owens

The authors, leaders at MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research and UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business, provide a guide to help people across organizations (not just on data teams) think more expansively about how to turn data into money. Covering approaches such as wrapping products with data and selling broader information offerings, show how leaders can drive positive outcomes and generate excitement around new data opportunities.

Think Like a CTO, by Alan Williamson

In this book, Williamson highlights the common themes CTOs should consider as they work to become the trusted leader their company needs. He also adds commentary from industry experts and veteran CTOs to illustrate the book’s focus areas, which include establishing strong relationships with C-suite peers, architecting future-proofed systems, and leading with data rather than passion.

Wiring the Winning Organization: Liberating Our Collective Greatness through Slowification, Simplification, and Amplification, by Gene Kim and Steven J. Spear

Drawing on years of research and insights from organizations such as Amazon, Apple, and NASA, Kim and Spear show how leaders make the “social wiring” that drives results and allows others to thrive. They describe their system for moving problem-solving from risky danger zones to low-risk winning zones and provide a playbook for leaders to rewire their own organizations.

As 2023 quickly comes to a close, here’s a look back at some of the tech stories that caught my eye in the past year. These articles deliver perspectives on the evolution of the technology landscape and the roles of the leaders guiding the way; why overlooking security has disastrous results; and how the rapid evolution of the AI arms race is evolving.

A Timeline of Sam Altman’s Firing from OpenAI – and the Fallout

By Kyle Wiggers, Tech Crunch, November 29

Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI, was abruptly fired from his job. It kicked off a frenzied weekend in the tech community as observers tried to piece together what happened at what Altman’s ouster might mean for the future of the company. By the end of the weekend, the company announced plans for Altman’s return, along with a slate of new board members. The drama opened up a broader discussion about how to manage the opportunities and risks posted by AI as startups and tech giants alike race to commercialize it.

Reshaping the Tree: Rebuilding Organizations for AI

By Ethan Mollick, One Useful Thing, November 27

To explain the future of organizations, Mollick takes us back to the New York and Erie Railroad of 1855, where the need to organize a massive, distributed workforce led to the development of the world’s first org chart. Fast forward to today, and while technology has advanced, many of the challenges leaders face remain the same, namely, how to rebuild companies to adapt to a major shift in how work gets done. This piece offers organizational leaders with a few guiding principles for shaping the future of work in the age of AI.

How Jensen Huang’s Nvidia is Powering the AI Revolution

By Stephen Witt, The New Yorker, November 27

Jensen Huang has been leading the way in supercomputing since he signed the paperwork for Nvidia at a San Jose Denny’s in 1993. Today, the chipmaker provides a critical backbone for the AI generative revolution. This piece digs into the company’s history and provides a glimpse at what it has planned for the future, such as unifying the company’s computer graphics and GenAI research, anticipating that more sophisticated image generation and language processing capabilities will enable “digital twins” of the world that can be used to, for example, train robots and self-driving cars.

Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig on Why AI and Social Media are Causing a Free Speech Crisis for the Internet

By Nilay Patel, The Verge, October 24

After 30 years teaching law, the internet policy guru, Lessig, expresses concern about AI and TikTok, and he offers an interesting assessment about how to balance free speech while protecting democracy.

Chinese Spy Agency Rising to Challenge the C.I.A.

By Edward Wong, Julian E. Barnes, Muyi Xiao and Chris Buckley, New York Times, December 27

At the tail end of the year, these four Times reporters offer an analysis of the Chinese Ministry of State Security deployment of artificial intelligence among other advanced technology in competition with the United States to achieve Xi Jinping’s goal to become the world’s preeminent economic and military power. The article highlights the intersection of technology, geopolitics, global economics, and military might.

The CIO’s New C-suite Mandate

By Stacy Collet, CIO.com, February 28

Amid economic uncertainty and a rapidly evolving technology landscape, today’s technology leaders are mobilizing strategic internal partnerships and taking on the role of both business strategist and changemaker as they transform the way their organization’s drive business outcomes. CIOs must still manage core technology, to be sure, but today “…it’s more about how we drive customer expansion, how we improve margin expansion, reduce friction by improving overall productivity of the organizations, and how each of these ties into our business strategy priorities,” says Max Chan, CIO of Avnet. CIOs “need to understand all those. We need to take interest in every single strategy priority in the business. This is table stakes.”

The Mirai Confessions: Three Young Hackers Who Built a Web-killing Monster Finally Tell Their Story

By Andy Greenberg, Wired, November 14

This article takes us behind the scenes how a bored 19-year and his friends dove into the world of cybercrime, creating a network that would be used in the major DDoS attack that took down major swaths of the internet, including notable sites like the New York Times, Netflix, Twitter (now “X”), and PayPal.

How to Train Generative AI Using Your Company’s Data

By Tom Davenport and Maryam Alavi, Harvard Business Review, July 6

In the summer of 2023, technology leaders raced to figure out the best ways to bring generative AI capabilities to their organizations. This article outlined a variety of approaches for applying genAI to internal knowledge management capabilities, highlighting projects by Bloomberg, Google and Morgan Stanley.

Google: “We have no Moat, and Neither does OpenAI”

By Dylan Patel and Afzal Ahmad, SemiAnalysis, May 4

A leaked memo from a Google researcher-made waves this summer in its assertion that the tech giant didn’t have the right stuff to win in the AI arms race. The memo stated that open-source models “are lapping us,” and encouraged the company to establish itself as a leader in the open-source community and create new paths to innovation.

Silicon Valley Bank Collapse Explained: What You Need to Know

By Amanda Hetler, Tech Target, April 20

On March 10 Silicon Valley Bank was seized by state regulators due to its inability to pay its depositors, marking the biggest bank failure since Washington Mutual in 2008. Its downfall had a big impact on tech companies large and small that depended on the bank’s services and raised broader questions about the stability of the financial system.

Sastry Durvasula has an unusual title and remit at TIAA. As Chief Information and Client Services Officer of the Fortune 100 company, with more than $1.2 trillion in assets under management, he manages global technology and client services, including all the front office, middle office, back office functions and shared services of the firm that serve the company’s clients. Thus, Durvasula and team build solutions on the technology side that are used by colleagues on the other sides of his organization that serve the clients across the businesses, including retirement, asset management and wealth management. This responsibility gives him an opportunity to see the positive impact of his team’s work first-hand. The clients represent four constituent groups:

  • Plan Sponsors, which are the big institutions that TIAA works with from higher education organizations, healthcare providers and nonprofits, to name three examples among many
  • Employees of these institutions, known as the Plan Participants
  • Plan Consultants, that are the advisors for these plan sponsors that devise these programs
  • Institutional clients of the global asset management business

Therefore, Durvasula and his team support customers that include business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and business-to-business-to-consumer models. There is a fintech ecosystem that he helps bring to life: RetireTech, focused on building solutions for retirement participants on the accumulation side, and SilverTech, focused on the decumulating side. Managing through the complexity of different constituent groups, representing different generations together with a century old company that has forged contracts across decades is extremely complex. “The mission statement for my organization is ‘Power the business’ strategic shifts, fuel the innovation, while transforming the core,’” he noted. “The transforming of the core is as important and complex as fueling innovation and powering it. These strategic shifts enable us to provide lifetime income, delighting our clients and strengthening how we operate.”

Given TIAA’s size and breadth of offerings, Global Technology is divided up to reflect that breadth. “We have the unit CIOs that face off to the CEOs across our primary businesses in retirement, asset management and wealth management. Same thing with our client services side of the house where our client services officers are serving these specific business units, ” Durvasula explained. “Then we have global technology shared services like information security, data, AI, infrastructure and architecture, as well as shared client services like fraud and financial crimes management, serving all business units and affiliates. That’s my organizational grid. We have verticals and horizontals.”

Guiding these teams is a six-pillar strategy:

  • Client-obsessed products and services
  • Digital first
  • Powering the enterprise through an integrated data and AI strategy
  • Building the talent and culture that we need, to operate effectively
  • Best-of-breed ecosystem
  • Secure by design

Durvasula notes that client-obsessed products and services refers to products both on the technology side as well as on the client services side of his responsibilities. “Whether it’s 403(b) solutions and products in the Higher Ed and Healthcare markets, or on the 401(k) side that we are getting very active on from a retirement perspective, as well as wealth management and asset management and so forth; that’s where we are focused on building those next-generation products and services,” he offered.

Digital first refers to modernizing a heritage company for the digital age, building the next generation of digital platforms, and providing solutions and client experiences, working closely with the company’s chief digital and client experience officer, Jessica Austin Barker.

To bring to life the integrated data and AI strategy pillar, Durvasula hired a chief data and AI officer, Swatee Singh, who’s focuses on that, to build the next generation of the data foundation and providing AI solutions to create those experiences for plan sponsors and participants.

Building the talent and culture needed to operate effectively includes key hires, like the ones noted already, but also creating a learning culture that strives to build the skills that will bring to life the digital vision he has articulated.

The best-of-breed ecosystem helps rethink the mix of buy versus build versus partners decisions across the technology landscape. “We want to build for differentiation, but we also want to buy and partner for parity,” Durvasula noted. “While I do that, obviously I have to uplift the technology ecosystem which is a big job for our teams.”

Finally, like all CIOs, he must do all the above while being secure by design and be on top of the regulatory and compliance demands. Given the emergence of numerous cyber threats, he must remain vigilant to ensure that the most valuable asset: the company’s data, does not get into the wrong hands.

Durvasula lingered a bit longer on the data piece, given the sanctity of sound data practices in a company that is awash in data. “The advantage we have is, because we have been at this for a long time and we are a highly regulated firm, we do have a number of data assets that actually are within the firewalls of TIAA that we can capitalize on,” he said. “How do we bring all the data from our global data assets and build that platform? While we do that, obviously we want to be cloud-first as we do.” Durvasula and team focus on leveraging open-source tools wherever possible. They have also focused on developing what he referred to as “killer use cases” that are powered by AI for each of the aforementioned constituent groups that TIAA serves. “As an example, we forged a strategic partnership with Google AI that we are now actively deploying solutions starting with our client services area,” he said. “It’s made it easy to deploy at scale.”

Additionally, Durvasula and team use conversational AI solutions to minimize client wait times. He believes this is a major customer enhancement, removing friction from their experience. Many of these new solutions are conceived in TIAA’s client tech labs, which leverage a multi-cloud/hybrid cloud environment to pilot ideas, work with clients to co-innovate and test beta versions of solutions, course correcting some to optimize them while canceling others that prove to be of insufficient value for customers. For those that go into production, Durvasula and team proceed with greater confidence.

Durvasula and TIAA more generally work closely with universities as strategic partners. “We want to have a different level of engagement and conversation with [universities],” he noted. “As an example, we have a partnership with NYU where we have launched programs, and we have over 70 cyber graduates that are going to be graduating from NYU – employees of our own – who are going through this coursework. We have something similar at [the University of North Carolina], but we also have a robust internship program. As an example, at the client tech labs that I mentioned earlier, we’ve had over one hundred interns actively hacking in our client tech labs and coming up with solutions. Some of them are winners of our hackathons and have opted to continue with us during their semesters as well. That’s is representative of the strategic advantage we have to build [a strong] talent pipeline.” By giving interns interesting work, the program has proven to be a rich source of full time recruits. This has developed a solid, long-term talent pipeline for the tech and digital team.

The connection with students and professors at universities are critical for the company given its history in the industry. (TIAA is an acronym for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America.) “When it comes to client co-innovation on emerging technology and research projects with faculty and their students because that’s what we do for our business,” Durvasula offered. “With client advisory councils that we have, we open doors for our clients where faculty and students can come and conduct research with us and partner with us on a number of ideas. That’s exciting because it not only adds more talent to our pipeline, but it also opens the dialogue with our clients in a differentiated way for impact.”

Finally, Durvasula has taken a much longer-term view in the development of female talent in technology by serving on the board of Girls in Tech, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in tech. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn and benefit from the wisdom of the board as well as the founder, Adriana Gascoigne, who started this several years ago with a few thousand people in the West Coast,” said Durvasula. “Now, it has grown almost 100,000 members across 50 different countries. I’ve had the privilege to work with Adriana and the leadership team and the broader chapters to grow the impact of Girls in Tech.” He notes that the power of the organization is to foster empowerment, learning, communications, networking and especially mentoring. He believes Girls in Tech will be a pathway to building the diverse and inclusive tech workforce the world needs. He also forged strategic partnerships with non-profits including Blacks in Technology Foundation, AfroTech and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Durvasula has enacted remarkable, long-term change across TIAA in a relatively short amount of time, and he and his team remain ambitious about the future.

Peter High is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written three bestselling books, including his latest Getting to Nimble. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

The Future of Work: Navigating Uncertainty, Avoiding Pitfalls, and Emulating Success with Peter High

Metis Strategy President Peter High joined Joel Beasley on the Modern CTO Podcast to discuss why the winning strategies in the future of work aren’t clear yet; why tech leaders should never commit to one-way doors; and how Domino’s avoided becoming the next Blockbuster.

Listen to the episode here:

Check out the Modern CTO Podcast here.

Produced by ProSeries Media

As we enter 2023, many technology executives are preparing their organizations for a possible economic downturn. In addition to pursuing growth and transformation initiatives (though perhaps with a tighter budget than before), they are exploring ways in which technology can deliver efficiency and resilience. 

In a recent episode of “Forbes Talks”, Peter High joins Diane Brady to discuss the growing role of the CIO and technology in the workplace, as well as the evolving technology landscape in 2023 and beyond. 

Watch the Forbes interview with Peter High below:

Zoetis’ Chief Information & Digital Officer Wafaa Mamilli has been promoted to the post of Executive Vice President, Chief Digital & Technology Officer and Group President for China, Brazil, and Precision Animal Health. Zoetis is the world’s largest manufacturers of animal pharmaceuticals. This post represents a major leap forward in Mamilli’s responsibilities, driving the accelerated growth of two key markets, as well as the company’s precision animal health businesses and advancing our global customer experience programs. Mamilli is a big believer that all tech and digital executives ought to have a profound impact if not primary responsibility for customer experience in the digital age.

“I’ve always thought of my role as a business leader with technology accountability and have been passionate about the role of digital and data in reimagining animal health and powering Zoetis’ business. I am equally excited to fully harness our innovative portfolio, along with my global experience, to deliver the most value to our customers in key growth areas of our business.”

She will continue to oversee Zoetis’ digital and data analytic strategies as well as the Information Technology and cybersecurity teams.

Prior to joining Zoetis in 2020, Mamilli was with Eli Lilly and Company for 20 years. She held a variety of International roles with increasing responsibility, and ultimately served as the Global Chief Information Officer for the company’s business units. She also served as the company’s Chief Information Security Officer, a rare example of a CISO growing into CIO responsibilities, though surely a pathway that may become more frequent in an age when the former is growing in strategic importance.

Mamilli’s profile has grown tremendously in the past two years, including being the recipient of the 2022 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award, which honors executives who lead their organizations to deliver exemplary levels of business value through the innovative use of IT. She was also honored as a member of the Forbes CIO Next List, recognized among 50 influential technology leaders who are redefining the CIO role and driving innovation.

In addition to her outsized influence in tech and digital and now beyond within Zoetis, Mamilli is also on the leading edge of CIOs and CDO s who have been asked to serve on the boards of public companies with multiple billions of dollars in revenue. She serves on the board of directors of Fiserv, Inc., a global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions.

Mamilli has also been a champion of women in technology, as a leader of the T200, a group of female technology executives who not only support each other, but also mentor the next generation of female tech and digital execs.

She earned a master’s degree in Computer Science from INSEA in Rabat, Morocco, and a master’s degree in Business Applications of Information and Technology from Université Rennes in Rennes, France.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

Cardinal Health is among the largest companies in the world, earning roughly $180 billion in annual revenue. The company has two main segments to its business: a pharmaceutical distribution segment and a medical products segment. The company’s executive vice president, chief information officer and head of Global Business Services is Michelle Greene. Her purview includes leading teams aligned with the two segments, while also leading horizontal teams that cut across them. The latter category includes a digital office and an organization called Fuse, which develops commercial technology. “The advantage that I have is to not only focus internally but also have some focus externally,” said Greene. “Figuring out how we can leverage and find synergies between the technology platforms that we’re implementing [is also an area of focus].”

One might think of her organization as one that provides glue across the business segments that each could be Fortune 500 businesses based on their revenues. “What we’re looking to now is how we can expand an enterprise mindset across all of my leaders so that we don’t get so siloed and single-focused,” noted Greene. When asked for examples, she said, “We’ve worked to try to centralize more our data and analytics, anything digital, automation, and our AI space. In those spaces you may find that you need support from other teams.” These topics become unifiers and offer opportunities for great collaboration across the traditional silos of the business.

The focus on commercial technology is differentiating for a CIO, as Greene and her team focus on both sides of the profit equation: identifying opportunities for efficiencies while also driving new revenue opportunities. As an example of the former, she offered up a description of a specialty solution called Decision Path. “It is a first-of-its-kind solution built into the electronic health records, providing real-time visibility into our patients out of pocket expenses,” said Greene. “It helps oncologists make high-quality treatment choices to reduce the burden of financial toxicity. It’s a data-driven cost-tracking tool that enables oncologists to accurately measure the cost of care at the start of and during the episode of care.” As an example of the latter, Greene spoke about Outcomes Connected platform. “It is a digital ecosystem, and it connects our pharmacists, our payers and our pharmaceutical companies to maximize clinical opportunities,” said Greene. “We mitigate the challenges of medication non-adherence, a common and costly problem. Both of these we have a team: my Fuse team. They work on these solutions along with the business, and it’s just a great opportunity for us to [solve] business problems with technology.”

To innovate at the scale necessary to grow such a large company, Greene must find creative pathways to recruit great talent. Like many other companies, increasing the flexibility of who works where has been a great way to find people who may be far from the company’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio who have not interest in moving. She does not take existing talent for granted, however and drives continuous engagement with them to “re-recruit” talented team members. “How do we continue to reengage, re-recruit, and make sure that we’re continuing to engage the talent that we have?” Greene asked rhetorically. “That’s where it needs to start. Our HR partners have been working with us to do things like “stay interviews” to understand why people stay, and if they’ve ever considered looking at other opportunities externally, what drove that and how we can make adjustments as an organization [to lead more people to stay with Cardinal Health].”

Greene also noted that ambitious colleagues want to be sure that their skills are growing, so it is paramount to provide them with the training necessary to let them feel that growth. Greene’s team has developed a training platform called “Digital U.” It provides courses and certifications to ensure that the team is building the skill sets of tomorrow. “If we don’t take care of that talent and continue to feed and nurture that talent, then people will find other opportunities outside,” she acknowledged.

Greene is a female executive of color and knows that she is part of an exclusive club, but she also recognizes that she has the opportunity to inspire others to reach higher in their career goals. She points to the leadership of Mike Kaufman, who was CEO when she arrived at Cardinal Health and Jason Hollar, who became CEO on September 1 of this year. Each has emphasized the need for greater levels of diversity. Greene also noted that as the company seeks a more diverse workforce, diversity of thought needs to be considered an important factor, as well. “We need to make sure that this is about diversity of thought,” she said. “How do we do things differently? How do we engage innovation? How do we just do some out of the box thinking? That’s what brings about true diversity.”

When Greene reflected on her own rise, a growth mindset was key. It continues today, as she personally pays for a coach to help her. When colleagues and peers have seemed surprised by this, she responds by saying, “We’ll pay for a trainer when we want to lose weight. We’ll pay for someone to do your hair or a stylist to find you the right outfits to wear. We have to make sure that things that are truly important, and if you’re serious about your career development and development as a leader, you have to embrace that, and be ready to do it.”

Greene serves as a remarkable model for others to follow.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

Gartner Inc. announced its top ten strategic technology trends for 2023 at their Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2022 in Orlando this week. The ten trends are broken into four themes: optimize, scale, pioneer, sustainability.

The top ten trends are:

  1. Digital immune system
  2. Applied observability
  3. AI trust, risk, and security management (AI TRiSM)
  4. Industry cloud platforms
  5. Platform engineering
  6. Wireless-value realization
  7. Superapps
  8. Adaptive AI
  9. Metaverse
  10. Sustainable technology

Theme 1: Optimize

Digital Immune System

As CIOs increasingly take on revenue generating responsibilities, antiquated development and testing approaches are no longer sufficient for delivering robust and resilient business-critical solutions that also provide a superior user experience. A Digital Immune System (DIS) combines several software engineering strategies such as observability, automation, and extreme testing to enhance the customer experience by protecting against operational and security risks. By 2025, Gartner predicts that organizations that invest in building digital immunity will increase end-user satisfaction through applications that achieve greater uptime and deliver a stronger user experience.

Applied observability

The path to data-driven decision making includes a shift from monitoring and reacting to data to proactively applying that data in an orchestrated and integrated way across the enterprise. Doing so can shorten the time it takes to reach critical decisions while also facilitating faster, more accurate planning. Gartner notes observable data as an organization’s “most precious monetizable asset” and encourages leaders to seek use cases and business capabilities in which this data can deliver competitive advantage.

AI Trust, Risk and Security Management (AI TRiSM)

As artificial intelligence algorithms grow increasingly sophisticated and complex, leaders increasingly must bake governance, trustworthiness, fairness, reliability, efficacy and privacy into AI operations. AI TRiSM includes tools and processes that make AI models easier to interpret and explain while improving overall privacy and security. By 2026, companies that operationalize AI transparency, trust, and security will see AI models achieve 50% result improvement in terms of adoption, business goals and user acceptance, Gartner says.

Theme 2: Scale

Industry cloud platforms

Gartner predicts more organizations will use industry-specific cloud platforms to drive agility, speed to innovation and accelerated time to value. This includes incorporating cloud software, platform and infrastructure services traditionally purchased a la carte into pre-integrated yet flexible tools that are suited to meet the needs of specific industry verticals. The packaged capabilities can serve as building blocks on which organizations can build new and differentiating digital initiatives, Gartner says.

Platform Engineering

Modern software architectures are continuing to grow in complexity, and end-users are often asked to operate these services with a non-expert level knowledge. As a response to this growing friction, platform engineering has emerged between the service and the end-user to deliver a curated set of reusable self-service tools, capabilities, and processes, optimizing the developer experience and accelerating digital application delivery. Gartner predicts that by 2026, 80% of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams with 75% of those including developer self-service portals.

Wireless-Value Realization

By 2025, Gartner expects 50% of enterprise wireless endpoints will use networking services that deliver additional capabilities beyond communication, up from less than 15%. Wireless-value realization refers to the expanding range of next-generation wireless protocols and technologies that will deliver value beyond connectivity, ranging from location tracking, to radar sensing, to ultra-low-power energy harvesting.

Theme 3: Pioneer

Superapps

In the age of smartphones and a digital-native generation, demand has grown for mobile-first experiences that provide a host of various services with a user-friendly interface. This demand has caused a trend of organizations embracing superapps, a composable application and architecture that provides end-users with a set of core features and access to independently created “miniapps” that allow for a consistent and personalized user experience within a single app. Gartner predicts that more than 50% of the global population will be daily active users of multiple superapps by 2027.

Adaptive AI

Adaptive artificial intelligence enables models that can self-adapt in production or change post-deployment using real-time feedback from past human and machine experiences. This is increasingly important as decision making is rapidly becoming more connected, contextual, and continuous. By 2026, Gartner predicts that enterprises that adopt AI engineering practices to build and manage adaptive AI systems will outperform their peers in the operationalizing AI models by at least 25%.

Metaverse

Gartner defines the metaverse as a combinatorial innovation, as opposed to a singular technology, that joins multiple trends in technology into a collective virtual environment where people can enhance the physical reality. This innovation transforms the physical world or extends it into a virtual world where organizations can improve employee engagement and collaboration. Although Gartner warns that the metaverse is still in its nascent stages and the viability of long-term investments are uncertain, it predicts that by 2027, over 40% of large organizations worldwide will be using Web3, spatial computing, and digital twins to increase revenue through metaverse-based projects.

Theme 4: Sustainability

Sustainable Technology

Sustainable technology is an area that has risen to the top of priority lists for many company executives and should be looked at as a framework of solutions that increase the energy and material efficiency of IT services, enable sustainability of both the enterprise and its customers, and drive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes. Through the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, advanced analytics, and shared cloud services, among others, companies can improve traceability, reduce environmental impact, and provide consumers and suppliers with the tools to track sustainability goals. By 2025, Gartner predicts that 50% of CIOs will have performance metrics tied to the sustainability of the IT organization.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

Some executives have the same job across many companies. They bring a strong toolkit into different environments, and, for a time, help drive change for those companies. Other executives have many jobs in the same company. They get to know their companies as well as anyone. When they reach executive levels, they are well equipped to collaborate with and mentor those who have taken over their old responsibilities. They understand how the company works better than most. They have a great internal network to tap to drive innovation. Ramon Richards is the latter type of executive.

Richards joined the $47.5 billion revenue mortgage financing company Fannie Mae 23 years ago. Since then, he has six roles prior to ascending to the role of CIO in August of 2021:

  • Development Manager
  • Director, Corporate Functions, Finance & General Ledger Systems
  • Vice President, Finance and Corporate Functions Technology
  • Vice President, Securitization and Credit Technology
  • Senior Vice President, Securitization & Servicing Technology
  • Senior Vice President, Integrated Technology Solutions

He admits that he did not think he would remain with the company for more than two decades when he joined. He has stayed, however, because he has been able to learn and take on new opportunities. “On my journey, the work has remained interesting and challenging and has kept me fully engaged,” he noted. “Another important part of it, being in the world of technology, you’re always learning, and the learning was encouraged.” He also understands that Fannie Mae has had tremendous advantages in keeping an executive of his tenure in the fold for so long. “I’m deeply connected with our mission and highly motivated with the things that we are doing and how we are trying to improve access to housing,” Richards said. “I understand the culture and I’m able to identify where there are opportunities for us to continue to evolve as a company. I think there’s an ability to connect the dots differently when you really understand how all aspects of the company works from business to operations to technology, which has allowed me to influence differently than maybe someone who hasn’t spent as much time understanding the inner workings of the company.”

Richards and his team have driven a tremendous digital transformation over the course of the past several years. There has been a focus on building the skills of the future so that his team can meet the demand for digital capabilities across the enterprise. He has also driven a reduction in legacy technology so that there is a better, less complex tech stack that he and the team manage. Agile practices have also been an important change factor as has the shift to a greater emphasis on automation and cloud technology. Richards’ team is increasing the pace at which it can deliver software while also reducing costs along the way.

The IT team now has a better foundation upon which it can innovate. To exemplify that innovation, Richards highlights an automated underwriting system that his team helped put in place to incorporate consistent rent payment history in credit evaluations. Long time renters who pay their rent every month should be establishing credit worthiness for what is typically the biggest bill of the month. And yet, it has not typically contributed to an evaluation of credit worthiness. This allows Fannie Mae to qualify more borrowers for mortgage loans. It is an idea that almost seems obvious once it is explained, at yet it is a first of its kind in the industry. There were considerable tech changes necessary to allow this idea to blossom. “We have taken advantage of some of our cloud capabilities as well as machine learning capabilities…to unlock the payment rental history,” said Richards. “This is a major contribution to the company’s core principle of increasing access to housing.”

The key to unlocking innovation at Fannie Mae is in building a team that is curious and ambitious enough to want to develop the best ideas for the future. It begins with having the right training. “We have a curriculum that we’ve established to build the skill sets to be a full-stack engineer,” said Richards. “We have a curriculum in place to build advanced cloud engineering skills, as well. We also invest in leadership and management skills because you need both in order to have a high-performing team.” Additionally, his career path has become more de rigeur for his colleagues. When an employee is ready for the next opportunity, suggesting other parts of the company can increase the possibility that they will stay rather than seek that next opportunity outside of the company. “In the kind of talent market that we’re in today, it’s important to retain your individuals,” Richards underscored. “We are very focused on finding new opportunities for individuals when they’re ready for the next chapter in their career. It’s a much better answer for the company than those individuals deciding to leave.”

This people-powered innovation engine came in handy when the pandemic struck. Many of Fannie Mae’s customers were hit hard by the health crisis that quickly became a financial crisis for many. “Fortunately, we had made some good progress on some of the digital capabilities that we were building, and we were able to take advantage of those capabilities to deliver a payment deferral function for the company faster than we had delivered that type of function in the past,” said Richards. “It became clear to us that the investment we were making in our digital core was important for the way we wanted to operate as a company moving forward. It was an early example of the potential, and I think it also helped in motivating and inspiring a lot of our folks to set the company up for future success delivering products that would benefit homeowners and renters.”

Richards is still having fun in his post as CIO and sees vast opportunities to continue to innovate, learning new skills along the way.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.