Inside the Mind of a Modern CIO

John Crary, CIO, American Red Cross
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John Crary, CIO, American Red Cross

Mobility is a trend that is shaping the industry. There is constant improvement in the capabilities of mobile devices. The second is the data generated by that mobility. For example, in the past, advertisers would poll TV viewers to find out what they were watching. Now, advertisers look at clicks and texts to find out which shows are being watched the most and use these standards to set advertising prices. This change in data generation is really changing how we use and look at data.

"One of the biggest challenges as CIO of an organization such as this is deciding how to throw away legacy systems and move into innovations and new technologies fast enough so that you lower costs and become more efficient"

It is not necessarily a missing “need,” but we are seeing the speed of Silicon Valley and tech developers moving faster than the general audience can absorb new technologies. The development of technology is not always done in an intuitive manner with the end user in mind. Developers are often seen talking in their own language and not thinking about how the new product will fit into previously existing technology investments.

One of the biggest challenges as CIO of an organization such as this is deciding how to throw away legacy systems and move into innovations and new technologies fast enough so that you lower costs and become more efficient. There is an ongoing issue of people unwilling to get rid of the older technologies and throw away their past investment.

Move People Away from the Older Technologies and Systems they are Comfortable with

I work to drive innovation throughout the organization to move people away from the older technologies and systems they are comfortable with and get them to embrace and move ahead with new technologies. One way to do this is by forcing the issue and forging ahead: cajoling, educating, training, but always pushing forward and not looking back. It is also important where you are within the hierarchy of an organization. At the American Red Cross, the CIO has a seat at the leadership table, and I report to the CEO. It helps drive change when you are seen as an equal with the other executive leadership.

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