676: In this interview, Katya Andresen, Chief Digital and Analytics Officer of Cigna, discusses her impressive and diverse career path and the insights that she’s drawn from it along the way. She begins with an overview of Cigna’s business and the two sides of her purview as Chief Digital and Analytics Officer. Katya covers the company’s broader data strategy, the way she assembles and structures her teams, the overlaps present across the multiple teams she leads, and reflection on the acceleration of telemedicine with Cigna’s release of MDLIVE and more. Finally, she discusses the process of onboarding during the pandemic, orienting herself at the company, and what trends in technology are on her radar.

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659: Raghu Sagi and Onyeka Nchege speak on the topic of how talent and culture enable enterprise agility. Both Raghu and Onyeka share remarkable stories of how the culture of their respective companies takes inspiration from constituents and members of their ecosystems, bringing the company values closer to the customers they serve. Onyeka discusses how these ecosystems influence culture and innovation. Raghu shares an impressive anecdote about evolving the in-person model of their restaurants during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco.

648: Diogo discusses the areas of opportunity in the drug discovery industry that technology has helped accelerate. He starts with his strategic priorities in his first year as CIDO and what attracted him to this complex industry. Diogo then expands upon the data strategy of the company and how machine learning is accelerating drug discovery. Finally, he talks about how he has harnessed the talent in the Indianapolis area, long-lasting changes from the pandemic, and the keys to success in Diogo’s diverse career.

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This episode is sponsored by Splunk and Cisco.

             

609: In this interview from our recent Metis Strategy Digital Symposium in September, Jim Swanson, Executive Vice President and Enterprise CIO for Johnson & Johnson, and Debra King, Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Transformation Officer for Corteva Agriscience, speak with Metis Strategy’s Vice President and East Coast Lead Alex Kraus about digital acceleration in times of uncertainty. Debra describes how Corteva maintains the characteristics of a startup and how the company leverages its Execute to Win program to bring about new and innovative ideas. Jim shares insight from Johnson & Johnson’s Four Pillars Approach as they relate to advancing the company’s mission of transforming the trajectory of human health. Finally, Debra gives her perspective on how Corteva’s agility has been shaped by uncertainty, and Jim gives his perspective on how Johnson & Johnson has developed resiliency during the pandemic.

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This episode is sponsored by Transmit Security.

591: In this interview, Anjana Harve, Global Chief Information Officer for Fresenius Medical Care, focuses on the broader role of the CIO and the business use of technology. Anjana begins with sharing her perspective on why now was the right time for the Global CIO Role at Fresenius and her role in leveraging digital technology as a source of competitive growth. She discusses how the global operating model helps with focusing on achieving business outcomes, finding top-line efficiencies, and improving the customer experience. Finally, Anjana talks about the role of the Global CIO during COVID, the role of culture and tech in hybrid work, and the state of women in technology.

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This episode is sponsored by Quickbase.

Like so many companies over the past year and half, Ralph Lauren has had its resilience tested as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It had to shut down stores and offices, and had to advance efforts to better interact with customers and associates alike, safely.

Fortunately for the company, Janet Sherlock, who has been the chief information officer of Ralph Lauren for the past four years, initiated a number of initiatives that gave the company a leg up. Her purview is such that she has unusual influence for a CIO. She runs strategy and overall management of all of the technology including design conceptualization through to the point when products are distributed to either wholesale partners, the company’s stores, or directly to the company’s consumers. Her team is also responsible for store technology and the full ecosystem of in-product management and user experience. Additionally, Sherlock oversees all global digital platforms, marketing technology, data analytics, and data science. All of this is on top of global infrastructure, cybersecurity, IT risk, compliance, and privacy.

Among the fortuitous programs that were in place prior to the pandemic that aided the company’s transition during the pandemic was a hybrid flexible work arrangement called Flex Place. Upon this foundation, Sherlock’s team rapidly rolled out virtual appointment booking. Her team had already made significant progress on curbside pickup for customers. Completing its rollout ensured that the company could still do business through stores even if customers were unable or less willing to go in them.

“I think our biggest shift left efforts was probably in virtual stores,” said Sherlock. “We had been considering our approach to virtual stores before Covid hit but that was something that we pulled forward very quickly and aggressively. Our stores were such masterpieces, and the experience is so unique, we felt it was important to offer the world of Ralph Lauren to our customers, even if they couldn’t physically visit our stores.” Her team rolled out a rich virtual store experience and quickly integrated it with the company’s e-commerce platform so that customers could purchase certain products via hotspots directly from their virtual experience. “At this point, we have seven different virtual store experiences, and are continuing to build on the capabilities that we have in our virtual store environment,” noted Sherlock.

One of the thornier issues that Sherlock and team had to grapple with how to assist Ralph Lauren’s design and merchandising teams, each of whom relied and thrived on in-person collaboration. Sherlock’s team set up a design collaboration platform for them to use, and it proved to be a silver lining of the pandemic inasmuch as the teams developed new ways to work and collaborate. Now the design and merchandising teams anticipate an ability to continue to work both in person and virtually, adding flexibility to their work routines.

Another process that the company took for granted had to be done in person was the product approval process, which traditionally relied on in-person meetings to discuss milestones related to lines, styles, and fit approvals. It was long assumed that those involved had to be able to physically see and touch the material in order to make decisions. “We were able to leverage our 3D product development for the approval process, which also had the side benefit of streamlining the process,” said Sherlock. “We [also] had to create online experiences to replicate and replace our showroom visits, and support different virtual ordering processes for our wholesale partners.”

As Sherlock contemplated the future, she noted three strategic priorities: experiences, data, and automation. The overarching benefit of these foci should be greater nimbleness for the company. The experiences center around creating a variety of customer journeys and allowing customers to engage in the ways that best suit them rather than dictating how they shop and purchase products from Ralph Lauren. “Everything is interoperable between our online, our [marketing technology] and our in-store capabilities are blended together so we can create seamless experiences and we have some really cool ones planned for the future,” noted Sherlock.

Next, she believes data strategy will be a critical area of focus. “We’re being very deliberate about the overall data strategy for the core elements of data, things like our product data, our digital assets, our customer data, thinking strategically about where they’re stored, how they’re accessed and leveraged, how they’re maintained,” said Sherlock. “[This will impact not only] data analytics, but [it will allow Ralph Lauren] to serve up on a real-time basis things like personalization, real-time actions, real-time decision-making…Then, of course, it leads to our capabilities in advanced analytics and data science, which for us is a major area of emphasis and focus.” She refers to IT as the “connective tissue” of the enterprise relative to data, and that this is a discipline that will lead to better collaboration across the traditional silos of the company.

Sherlock believes that greater degrees of automation will improve the efficiency of all that IT delivers while further modernizing the practices of the company to better compete in the digital age. Sherlock and her team have implemented a variety of changes that have overturned decades of inherited wisdom about how business can be done, providing new benefits along the way. Necessity is the mother of invention, it is said, and many inventions have been created due to the necessities that the pandemic has driven.

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.

Blue Shield of California is an 83-year-old nonprofit health system that earns roughly $20 billion in annual revenue, but it caps its net income at 2% of revenue. As a result, the company has returned more than $650 million to customers and communities through its history. With 4.5 million customers across the state of California, the company has a mission to create a healthcare system that is worthy of employees’ family and friends while being sustainably affordable. The pandemic has transformed the way in which the company interacts with customers. There has been a digital relationship with customers that has deepened since March of 2020. Blue Shield of California has focused on being holistic and personalized while being high-tech and high-touch.

The leader who has catalyzed much of this change is the company’s chief information officer Lisa Davis. In her role, she runs information technology as well as the company’s data and analytics organization, while setting Blue Shield of California’s technology strategy.

Davis draws upon an unusually deep reserve of experience as a technology leader, having spent 26 years at the United States Department of Defense, rising to the post of CIO at multiple divisions of DOD. She was also a CIO at Georgetown University for nearly three and a half years. After that, she joined Intel, first as a technology leader, and then ran a $9 billion business for the company. All of this was prior to joining Blue Shield of California in February of 2020.

Davis has seen the past 16 months of the pandemic as a remarkable driver of innovation and change. By way of example, she referenced telehealth, which has been an area of focus for Davis, and an area of tremendous growth for the company during the pandemic. “Prior to the pandemic, there was a lot of consternation and a belief that telehealth wasn’t wanted by consumers and wouldn’t be leveraged or used by our members,” said Davis. “In fact, the pandemic showed just the opposite. Telehealth has soared almost 500%. We are seeing better health outcomes, and [in many cases] our members prefer telehealth appointments to having to go into the office.”

Davis also notes that an area that the healthcare system in the United States has lacked historically has been a holistic approach to personal health. The pandemic has underscored the need for the healthcare ecosystem to work more closely together to serve patients. Davis referenced Blue Shield of California’s Health Reimagined program as an example. “Imagine an experience where providers, members and payers have access to the same data; that we’re making decisions that are best for the member or the patient because they have all of the providers sharing information from a single electronic health record,” said Davis. “[We aim to make] decisions based on [information that is] holistic and personalized to that member.”

Davis believes that the best way to serve providers, members and payers is to re-orient the IT function to be more tied to the rest of the organization. She and her team have spent the last year developing a new operating model for the information technology function centered around portfolios and products.  “We spent the last year changing our operating model to align against and support the key lines of business and key horizontal functions within the company,” noted Davis. “We have created seven different portfolios: three to support lines of business, four to create horizontal functions such as Medi-Cal, commercial business, senior markets, customer care, and marketing. Corporate services [is] a horizontal function and a large complex horizontal function [is] our Health and Growth Solutions organization, which has a big need around data and analytics capability.”

The portfolio teams have a variety of roles associated with each burgeoning partnership across the organization, including a portfolio leader, a solution delivery lead, solution architects, business architects, security personnel and data and analytics team members. Davis believes that this mix and the stronger partnership increases IT’s business acumen. “[This model creates a] basis of trust and a foundation with our business partners to improve collaboration, understand the opportunities that [they are] trying to solve, the capabilities that we’re trying to bring to market, so that those teams are connected hip-to-hip, working together to ultimately accelerate capabilities and services that we want to bring to market for our members,” said Davis. “That has laid a foundation [toward] being a cloud and data company that is required to support this new digital experience and vision of Health Reimagined that we want for our members.”

Davis joined Blue Shield of California only a couple of weeks before the company went into quarantine. As such, she became a test case for onboarding virtually, and she drew several lessons about how best to lead a team without the benefit of getting to know them in person. She has added more than 150 people to the IT team since the beginning of the pandemic, infusing the team with new talent at a time of great transformation, giving her ample opportunity to test those lessons.  The first lesson in leading during these most unusual circumstances is to lead authentically. Davis indicated that it is necessary to “listen more, to understand where our employees are [personally and professionally], to understand the capacity for change that they can handle, to be connected to what all of our employees are dealing with.”

Second, she recognized the sanctity of communications. “I’m a firm believer that you can never communicate enough,” said Davis. “That engagement and trying to stay connected, keep the video on [on video conference calls], trying to find that connection with the employees has been extremely important in navigating this change.”

Third, she models perseverance with the team. These are uncertain times, and it is difficult to predict what opportunities or threats might be around the corner but being steadfast in moving the organization in the right direction remains paramount.

Davis draws strength that helps her persevere through her diverse set of experiences, and she understands that there is more that is common across those experiences than is different. “One of the beautiful things about being a technology leader is no matter what sector that you’re in, our challenges are all pretty much the same,” she noted. “We all address those technology opportunities at a different place, at a different maturity level. Our stakeholders are clearly different, but the technology opportunities and how we leverage technology to support mission or business outcomes doesn’t change.”

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.

576: In this interview, Dave gives his perspective on the similarities and differences between the CIO and CDO roles and the way they relate to driving business transformations. In this combined role, he explains the importance of cultivating great relationships with business partners, prioritizing high-value drivers, and learning to be agile in adapting to the rapidly changing technology landscape. Within Merck, Dave speaks to the insights arising from the company’s transition from a project-focused to product-focused model, the advantages from its investment in cloud technology, and the use of data analytics and AI/ML to make decisions and assess risks. Finally, we discuss the risk of companies losing focus and falling into “tech for tech’s sake”, learnings from the pandemic, and industry trends towards quantum computing.

 

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This episode is sponsored by Tanium.

571: In this interview, Lisa Davis, SVP & CIO of Blue Shield of California, talks about Blue Shield’s mission of transforming the healthcare industry through balancing high tech with high touch, aligning the IT organization around portfolios and products, and engaging with the multiple stakeholders of Blue Shield. She also shares the lessons of authentic leadership, advantages of her experience as a CIO across different industries, advice for CIOs who wish to join boards, as she has, increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, and the latest tech trends she is excited about in healthcare.

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This episode is sponsored by Tanium and Zoho.

568: In this interview, Ramkumar Rayapureddy, Global CIO of Viatris, discusses how the IT team came together over one weekend and transitioned the entire company to virtual work with no business disruption, how COVID accelerated the pace of change for the entire organization, and steps Viatris has taken to keep its employees engaged throughout the pandemic. Ramkumar highlights some of the technologies the company adopted that it likely would not have had it not been for the pandemic as well as the improvements Viatris has made to its preventive maintenance program as it adopts new technologies. Lastly, we discuss how IT is becoming a bigger part of the initial strategic discussion within the company, why Ramkumar likes to hire people from the business into IT, and a variety of other topics.

 

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This episode is sponsored by Apptio and Tanium.