Words of wisdom – CIO roundtable, Oklahoma IT Symposium

I was lucky enough to attend the Oklahoma IT Symposium two weeks ago and hear a great CIO roundtable with leaders from a diverse set of organizations:

  • Dan Barth, CIO, OPUBCO Communications Group
  • Gina L. Bradford, CIO, TMA Systems
  • Scott Martin, CIO, Nonni’s Food Company, Inc
  • Gene Rindels, Director of IT, Charles Machine Works, Inc.
  • Hugh Scott, VP, Direct Energy
  • Chris Truesdell, CIO, QuikTrip

I jotted down some things that struck me at the time and wanted to share them here.

One caveat: I was handwriting notes, not recording, so the quotes here should be taken as paraphrases of what was said. And if anyone was there and remembers differently, please jump into the conversation and add your take as well.

On the challenges of being a strategic leader

Our business folks are not used to changing as fast as our technology is changing. — Dan Barth

Portraying IT as a business partner rather than as people who work on bits and bytes. — Chris Truesdell

Unusual for the IT team to understand their role in the larger business context. — Gina Bradford

We have folks doing the same job, the same way for 20 years–if you can get them involved and feel like it was their idea, it’s more likely to be a success. — Scott Martin

On the importance of the language of “partnership”

IT has a tendency to see sales as the enemy. — Gina Bradford

It doesn’t matter who calls, when our phone rings, it’s a customer. — Chris Truesdell

In manufacturing, with welders and equipment, it’s hot, dangerous work–so they don’t always understand IT. Partnership comes about when they can see how what we do impacts their jobs. — Gene Rindels

When all business units were silos, they could operate independently, with individual objectives. Now, it must be collaborative and IT can help a company to work with itself. CIO = chief collaboration officer. — Dan Barth

On dealing with the economic downturn

A lot of customers ask for unprofitable situations–metrics, reporting, and collaboration are key to understanding TCO and making the right business decision. — Scott Martin

We’re in a disruptive context and have to innovate “real time” with no pattern to follow. — Dan Barth

On the importance of a staff and having a strong management team reporting to you

All of my team are coders, so getting them to understand the business is a challenge. — Gina Bradford

Software developers are no longer all the same–there’s a big difference between SAP developers and iPad developers–your IT culture needs to support both. — Dan Barth


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