Global Tech Leaders Embrace Data-Driven Products and Operating Models

September 12, 2022
BY Leila Shaban
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Speakers at the Metis Strategy Digital Symposium combine technology with new ways of working to future-proof their organizations

Thank you to all who attended the 10th Metis Strategy Digital Symposium. Across conversations, leaders emphasized the need for foundational data and analytics capabilities to prepare their organizations for growth. Whether modernizing systems, designing new operating models, or upskilling teams for the future, an organization’s ability to appropriately harness the information assets available continues to be a key source of competitive advantage.  

Below are highlights from the event. Stay tuned to the Metis Strategy YouTube channel and Technovation podcast in the coming weeks for full recordings of individual panel discussions. In the meantime, click here to request an invitation for our next virtual event on December 13, 2022.

Data skills and career development drive upskilling efforts

To prepare employees for jobs of the future, technology leaders are focusing on upskilling and development initiatives that teach employees the latest technology skills while providing a clear path for professional growth. The most in-demand skill today: “data, data, data,” said Udacity CEO Gabe Dalporto. ”Every part of every organization needs better data skills.” That means not only equipping data scientists and IT teams with the latest skills, but also ensuring data literacy across marketing, compliance, cybersecurity, and beyond. 

It isn’t enough to only provide training, however. Dalporto noted that attrition can actually increase if reskilling programs aren’t directly linked to individuals’ jobs and career paths. The message resonated with attendees, 44% of whom noted career pathing and other growth opportunities as focus areas within their upskilling initiatives.

Pearson CIO Marykay Wells reiterated the importance of creating an environment that encourages continuous development. Pearson offers weekly learning hours and a range of certifications employees can pursue to help spark new ideas and creative thinking. The company is also leaning into greater job mobility, encouraging team members to apply their learnings across the organization. 

Emerging technologies enable greater precision and sustainability

A strong foundation in data and analytics paves the way for new innovations. As organizations modernize enterprise data platforms and gain access to consistently reliable information, they are finding new ways to use emerging technologies to improve processes and services.

At Boeing, data is embedded across the enterprise and serves as a source of growth and resilience, CIO and SVP of IT & Data Analytics Susan Doniz said. Data-driven insights give the company a greater understanding of supplier networks, assist with product planning, and drive sustainability initiatives. Boeing is using emerging technologies like digital twins and the metaverse to drive product precision, building airplanes thousands of times digitally before creating the physical plane. Boeing also combines its own information with weather data and other external sources to drive additional value. “The value of data is not just data by itself, it’s how you combine data with external data,” Doniz said. 

Emerging technologies have also shown promise in driving enterprise sustainability efforts. As Chevron Chief Digital Officer Frank Cassulo prepares for the transition to a lower carbon world and more renewable energy sources, he is advancing the deployment of industrial IoT, edge-based sensors, and real-time monitoring to improve the efficiency, reliability, and safety of the energy system. “We believe the intersection of technology and the energy transition is defining the rate at which we advance,” he said. Last year, the company launched Chevron New Energies to identify new technology opportunities and business models to deliver a lower carbon future. 

Organizations inject more data into product development and decision making

Technology leaders are embracing more data-driven decision making processes and rethinking how to measure the success of digital products and services.  

For example, every Monday morning, Vinod Bidarkoppa, SVP at Walmart and Chief Technology Officer at Sam’s Club, meets with the executive leadership team to discuss the Net Promoter Score of critical member and associate journeys from the prior week. Those metrics inform how the organization operates and focuses their efforts week to week. “Because there is data behind it, people can answer in a very data- driven way,” Bidarkoppa said. “It makes it a very rich conversation and it’s not just an opinion.”

Enterprises are also expressing a growing desire for reliable cybersecurity metrics. Orion Hindawi, Co-Founder and CEO at Tanium, detailed how the company is helping customers understand how their progress on particular KPIs compares to others in their industry. That data allows customers to better see where they have adequate protection or gaps that need filling.

Data-enabled products are also unlocking new efficiencies. Ameren Chief Digital Information Officer Bhavani Amirthalingam noted that putting more data into customers’ hands gives them more choice and control in managing their energy consumption. Greater accessibility to data also gives Ameren the ability to effectively track and reduce energy consumption in the data center and among key suppliers. 

As Pearson offers a broader range of digital education products, it is placing additional focus on metrics such as time to value (the time between a student enrolling and actually starting a course), as well as internal productivity metrics to guide process improvements for engineers. “We are thinking about ways we can use data to improve experience and value,” Wells said.  

Executives find new ways to manage global talent and operating models

In an increasingly complex economic and geopolitical climate, digital leaders are among those re-examining global talent footprints and seeking opportunities to streamline or automate existing processes. More than half of MSDS respondents noted that they are bringing on more full-time employees across geographies and exploring new locations for talent.

Denton’s, the largest law firm in the world, has grown from 3,500 employees 10 years ago to 20,000 employees around the world today through robust M&A activity. Over the years, each entity retained IT teams, structures, and systems. As cloud computing adoption expanded and cybersecurity concerns became paramount, especially for clients, Global CIO Ash Banerjee and his team are transforming and unifying the technology function, progressing the firm’s growth and integration strategies while seeking to balance local and global needs.

Anil Bhatt, Global CIO at Elevance Health (formerly known as Anthem) works to make sure that his global product team and engineer teams have the capabilities they need to meet business needs. At the same time, he’s focused on making sure team members are taking care of themselves. Bhatt’s team led two employee-focused transformations and introduced more flexibility and recognition. “As you take care of associates and employees, it changes how they look at company,” he said.

As the security and privacy landscape grows more complex, technology leaders must balance global rules and standards with country- or region-specific regulations. Kevin Stine, Chief of the Applied Cybersecurity Division for NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), has been encouraged by an uptick of international governments and businesses adopting and engaging with the NIST framework. He notes this global alignment of standards as a critical step to aligning key cybersecurity outcomes and avoiding duplication or conflicting expectations. 

Digital positions IT for greater strategic influence

As data-based decision making and digital tools pervade modern business, technology leaders are modernizing organizational architectures to help their companies more directly tie technology initiatives to business growth. At retailer Dollar General, CIO Carman Wenkoff prioritized people and processes in the modernization journey. After evaluating organizational structures and existing ways of working, the company grouped 105 technology domains into categories and assigned domain leaders to define and implement a future vision. The new structure is helping the retailer define new ways of working and find new ways to serve customers. 

The prevalence of technology is putting more leaders on the path from CIO to CEO, COO, and other business leadership roles in the C-suite. Chandra Dhandapani; Chief Executive Officer for Global Workplace Solutions at real estate firm CBRE advised technology leaders wishing to ascend to other roles to stay closely aligned with business leaders, invest in technology closely aligned with business strategy, move fast, and care about customer experience.  She encouraged leaders to take an outside-in perspective and “internalize being business leaders first who happen to have expertise in technology.” Dhandapani believes that CIOs are well positioned to take on additional leadership roles as they understand their organization’s data strengths and weaknesses and know how to use data to develop key insights.

September 25, 2022

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