Insights from April CIO Innovation Insider

April Innovation Insider Event

One of the biggest traits that I have noticed of high performance CIOs that I work with, is that they have a huge appetite for ongoing learning. At the recent CIO Innovation Insider we asked the 30 CIOs who attended our lunch at the United Therapeutics HQ the following Offense Innovation questions. Today I would like to share the top innovative ideas that came out of this discussion between A-caliber CIOs.

1. If you had $5-6K in slush/innovation funds to dedicate towards a side project in your organization – what innovation project would you invest in and test?

  • The first idea was to test data analytics, BI & AI, or Machine Learning by requesting Microsoft to invest $5, 10 or 20k in Cortana AI and Power BI (POC) proof of concept. This way he could validate his project. This approach would allow for project validation and local Microsoft partner engagement, providing visibility and case study material. This will be a great way to check how to leverage Power BI data analytics, using Azure and Cortana AI on the MS platform.
  • One CIO wanted to test and implementation of online reactive services similar to a chat pop up. This way, users can log on to their website, access notes in their current account and update notes based on the chat.
  • Another idea was to use Alexa to build a skill for the business. It was great to hear that one of the CIO attendees have recently tested a custom-built Alexa skill for “asking questions”. The audio chat bot skill was built for “asking questions” to help with FAQs at the annual event. The event attracted 27,000 attendees and their Alexa was used 7000 times. This approach served as a great alternative to their mobile app. Even though the app has all of the content available, users still needed to discover it, whereas the chat bot allowed for easy accessibility and quick access to the results.

2. Where in your organization do you have your best people work on the worst problems versus your best people working on the biggest opportunities?

  • Depending on the skillset needed, this CIO has utilized summer interns to work on small issues or little fires, saving his best people for the big opportunities. If you have something you cannot do otherwise, the interns may be a good fit for those challenges.
  • One CIO shared a challenge, that when other business units procure new technology and drop it on h desk for them to begin managing. He maintains ownership of these systems, and never allows admin rights to the business team utilizing the new technology. But he essentially has no say in a new system being implemented.

3. If you had to do a major project (i.e. New Upgrade, BI Project, CRM Implementation etc.) all over again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently? 

  •  One CIO said he would try to understand why you do things and how you do things from the get go and adjust constantly along the way. He would also sell the business case differently to his manager. He used Salesforce issues with his vendor as an example. If he had to redo the project, he would mix simple and complex business cases and put that up to the vendor for their input.
  • Another CIO said that he would take a different approach for pre-sale of the product as to how it affects people and groups is important. It is necessary to get buy in upfront by the people that are going to be impacted.

4. What are the top Security Tools or Business Productivity Tools you are using in your organization? Why do you or your team like them so much?

  •  One of the guests CIOs stated that the replacement of Trend Micro with SILENCE dropped the amount of false alerts very low.
  •  Deployment of CISCO jabber, consolidated into a unified communications tool. It was well-received as it simplified access to centralized communications.

I believe that the CIO is a merlin of sorts that has the ability to utilize innovative technologies and learn to understand them during the tests like that. If you use your limitless mindset to try out small innovation projects, you can start helping your businesses accomplish big things.