Minnesota CIOs Explain 4 Key 2020 Priorities at MHTA’s CIO Panel

December 12, 2019

Category: Events

This week the Four51 team attended the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) CIO Panel. The annual event brings together CIOs from top Minnesota businesses to discuss changes in the technology landscape and insights on current trends.

This year’s panel included:

Biggest Event Takeaway: The CIO role has changed. 

CIOs no longer just evaluate costs and approve the technology. Today, CIOs have the ability to influence and teach the entire organization. In order to be a successful, productive CIO, you need to be the Chief Ambassador of Technology and act as a business leader running a technology business. 

Minnesota CIOs Explain 4 Key Priorities As We Look to 2020

CIOs Need to be Customer-Centric

There was an astounding agreement across the panel that CIOs, and businesses, must have a customer-centric approach to technology. In order to successfully lead digital transformation, CIOs should be moving past the “how much does it cost and how long will it take to implement” questions, to asking “how will this technology serve our customers?”. Tarek Tomes, CIO at the State of Minnesota drove this point home, “One of the most important jobs of a CIO is to prioritize the people.” As customers evolve, technology needs to be able to meet those needs. 

CIOs Need to be Data Literate

One thing that has changed drastically for CIOs in recent years is the access to and quality of data. Today, CIOs have access to more data and better quality data than ever before. However, the challenge lies in how CIOs use and interpret that data. Anil Arcalgud, CIO at Ecolab, said it best, “Data is today’s digital currency.” CIOs need to understand what data they have, what data is needed to get to the desired results, and ultimately, how to use the data to drive the customer experience. 

CIOs Need to Focus on Connectivity

For CIOs today, there is an increased focus on not just connecting siloed and disconnected systems, but on connectivity. Modern technology has shaped customer preferences to expect and desire the ability to be connected anywhere, at any time. Innovative CIOs are taking advantage of new WiFi capabilities to ensure connectivity for every user – from a fan at a baseball game to teams on a building site in remote areas. At the end of the day, customers and businesses thrive on connection and CIOs today need to use technology as a way to facilitate that. 

CIOs Are Responsible for Developing Tech Talent

It’s common knowledge that there is a demand for tech talent in Minnesota, and across the country. Today, CIOs need to take responsibility in their own hands to help develop tech talent in the community. The CIO role today stretches far beyond approving technology, CIOs are charged with creating a culture of innovation which includes developing talent for years to come. 

Minnesota’s CIO all agree that the rise and necessity of digital transformation have forced the change in the CIO role. A key component of digital transformation is making sure that you have people and culture aligned (and that often starts at the very top), in addition to a technology strategy. As Sean Lennon, CIO at Medtronic, says “You need to facilitate a culture change in order to facilitate digital transformation.” As digital transformation continues to be a focus for businesses, technology will continue to play a bigger role in accomplishing it. 

Minnesota’s CIOs are pushing their stakeholders and business agendas to make sure technology has a seat at the table when it comes to all future-looking decisions. Sameer Badlani, CIO at Fairview Health Services, said: “We will be successful in 5 years if technology has a seat at the table with the CEO.”