Serving as the Vice President and Global CIO at Praxair since being appointed in 2016, Earl Newsome oversees the global information technology services. Before Praxair, Newsome was the Corporate CIO and Vice President of Digital for TE Connectivity, where he built and optimized a high-performing IT division across the company’s corporate functions. Newsome talks to us about collaboration technology and how there is a shift in the role of a CIO in today’s business environment.
The Changing Roles of a CIO
As the world becomes more digital, it changes the nature of the size of the planet just by virtue of digital connectivity and with that, the roles of the CIO has morphed as well. Technology is also making hardware cool again, when you think about that, the IoT and the digital aspect together has made IT the one of the cool kids again. Who would have thought that a smart thermostat or any other smart product would have been talked about the way we do today? These changes have added up over time. The result is a CIO has gone from being a protector that sits in a back room to working with customers and partners to translate their experiences to new and different heights. The CIO is in a transition phase, and I call this concept the ‘President of Technology.’
Dual roles of the CIO: Implementing Concepts and Digital Transformation
The road to President of Technology begins with credibility, and I think there are three phases to this: Credibility, Accountability, and Leadership. Aspiring CIOs first need to establish themselves as credible IT professionals with credible IT organizations that are building on the fundamentals well. They have to deliver on promises and ensure that they under promise and over deliver. Deliver working solutions on time, on a budget, on schedule, on function, on value and with no surprises. This eventually leads to a leadership role, where they can deliver on the vision of digital connectivity and making products and services cool while IT becomes an integral part of the business.
Aspiring CIOs first need to establish themselves as credible IT professionals with credible IT organizations that are building on the fundamentals well
The Digital Workplace
Specifically, what does digitalization mean for industrial companies? They have to think about digital in five different perspectives. The first is what are they doing to digitalize their assets? In an asset-intensive industry, digitalization can help maximize the utilization of assets, whatever they are in the business. The next perspective is how are they digitalizing the supply chain and making it more effective with digital technologies to ensure that the supply chain is easily measurable, predictable and meeting their business needs? The third is digitalizing operations to make sure that it is predictive and prescriptive in terms of how the companies are maintaining and delivering their products to the marketplace. The fourth is the notion of workplace/business processes. How are companies digitalizing the workplace? How do they ensure that employees have the right tools, that their processes are automated, optimized and executable in the digital work environment? I think it is more than just the workplace, where it is digital, flat, collaborative, and open. However, the tools that you get people to work with and the processes that they operate should also have the digital concepts applied to them.
Driving adoption with technology with Collaboration
I think the 4C model will work well in this scenario—getting people connected, enable them to communicate, give them the tools to collaborate and then stand back and watch the amazing things they create. In addition, the platform on which this should be implemented has two parts. The first is, people need to have the desire to deliver an amazing, high-quality, audio-video, social, surge and content sharing experience from any device to any device that is only limited by its capabilities. The second element is to deliver what I call the ubiquitous access to this data and applications that they need to do the job, regardless of the interface. The way you drive adoption, you can drive utilization. Adoption takes on two perspectives; the first is, within the target user group, how many of them are utilizing the system as required. If the measurement, marketing, and various components they trying to drive to the target audience, what is the level of adoption? We think of adoption from the perspective of getting high utilization from the target audience and maximizing the best practices across the board.
Collaboration Helps Foster a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion
Collaboration to me is an essential way to truly drive inclusion, diversity just ‘is,’ inclusion is an action and collaboration is value. We can establish a diverse group of people by whatever vector you want to use for diversity, but we need to take that diverse spectrum and include it in our planning, processes, and thinking. We can collaborate with the group and produce the best outcome and drive value for the company. With collaboration technology, we can take all of our diverse natures; be it language, ethnic, physical, experience, etcetera and harmonize it, making it easier to access the diversity that is going to make the company great.