Raytheon CIO championed as business — not just tech — leader
IT organizations will see greater benefit if they broaden the confines of established job descriptions and include opportunities for tech to contribute to overall business strategy, said Kevin Neifert, CIO of Raytheon Company, at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.
Neifert is taking a prioritized approach to making Raytheon more efficient with technology. He and his teams are currently looking at cloud, big data and analytics, AI, IoT, and augmented and virtual reality. He noted technologies like blockchain are not a priority.
Neifert is looking for these disruptive technologies to challenge Raytheon's thinking. To reduce trepidation, Neifert had organizational leadership pilot new tech before expanding to lower level employees.
IT has long been plagued by the notion it is just there to deliver technology and not much else.
New technologies were often deployed before ensuring a business value would be delivered. Sometimes IT worked under the presumption that it was someone else's job to find out how a new deployment made a difference to the bottom line, said Neifert. But that doesn't work anymore, "we need to be delivering and following through all the way to the bottom line."
In terms of evaluating the return on value and importance of risk management, Neifert introduces "the Tom Kennedy test," using the namesake of Raytheon's CEO. Neifert wants his teams to look at risks through the eyes of the CEO — determine what would concern him and what he would deem as virtually irrelevant for the enterprise's overall well being.
Neifert said as CIO of Raytheon, he is championed as a business leader, not just a tech leader. This has enabled his teams to define "business value in a way teams can see themselves in," he said.
The tools they're using, like AI and VR, is all disruptive and "past experience doesn't apply," he said. If it did, the technologies wouldn't be revolutionary.
It's important for IT leadership to "[want] to play with technology," said Neifert, especially when the scope of the business reaches places like Antarctica. Raytheon handles so much data, that if it were printed out on eight by eleven pieces of paper, it would be enough to "cover a United States-sized football field more than 30 feet deep," according to Neifert.
But before transformation can occur, collaboration and trust are nonnegotiable. Neifert wants to embolden employees to express ideas so he implemented innovation advocates across organizations.
These advocates are there to break down barriers and provided resources for people with ideas. He said where some people see "walls" preventing them to from materializing an idea, an IT leader sees a"speed bump."
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