IT Leaders Must Be Tsunami Buoys for their Business

I believe that CIOs are the early warning system for businesses and must possess, and refine their skills to be able to see around corners to anticipate what is next. Is ‘peering around the corner’ really just looking at change in a different way?

In my conversation with Rafael Maldonado, CIO at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), we discussed the role of an IT leader today. Watch this short video clip and hear our interesting discussion.

The full transcript of this conversation can be found below:

Rafael:    I think that leaders today need to be able to have the ability to see what’s coming around the corner before it actually materializes. It’s a talent, but I believe you can develop that to a certain extent. Being able to see what’s coming around the corner before it shows up and being ready as a leader to take advantage of the new business opportunities that are going to be presenting themselves, I think is a key skill that CIOs should possess today.

Bill:         Here’s what I find interesting in that statement. You’ve been in my CIO Innovation Forum group for a while now. We talk about disruption when you have technologies that are here, yet people shun them. We talk about text messaging, a technology that existed years before people thought it was a good idea. Then, there’s another group of people that think things are a good idea before others think it’s a good idea.

It’s almost like we’re looking past the new and peering around the corner. Is peering around the corner really just looking at the change in a different way because it’s here? Like machine learning in AI is here. I’m not picking on that, but it was here three years ago. How many people were like, “it’s just not going to happen?” Impact and driverless cars – it’s been here for three or four years, but we’re going to sit there and wait, wait, wait, wait; and all of a sudden, it’s going to be disruptive.

Rafael:    That’s what I mean by being able to see what’s coming around the corner. It’s being able to see an innovation is coming before it actually shows up, so you can participate early on. You can no longer just sit and wait for things to happen. You have to be more proactive, in terms of being able to plan. You almost have to be a futurist, in a way, to be able to see things before they happen and try to figure out, “What are some of these technologies that can be put together to really drive a competitive advantage before your competition figures it out?”

That’s what I mean by that, it’s being able to see, “What are the things that I can be doing as a leader in my organization to position my organization to take advantage of these new revenue lines, or new product, or services before my competition actually reacts?”

Bill:           What excites you now? It doesn’t have to be necessarily something that you dove into that is producing millions of dollars in revenue. Certainly, we can talk about that too. But what excites you about certain technologies? Are there certain combinations of technologies that you think all CIOs should at least be looking at personally or carving out time for their teams to dive into more deeply?

Rafael:    I believe that AI, robotics, and machine learning are very exciting technologies. Because they can be applied to so many thing. Let’s talk about healthcare for a moment.

The ability for you to feed information to an AI solution that can intake so much information, and then assist or potentially be part of a medical procedure, or be part of a conversation with a doctor. To be able to say, “Out of 100 million articles that I reviewed, this is the best procedure for this particular patient.” That to me is exciting.

The ability to look at AI and potentially start curing diseases that have been killing people for so many years. I mean, my mother died of cancer a few years back. I look forward to the day where we can actually start coming up with actual cures for some of these diseases. As you know, cancer is a group of diseases, it’s not just one disease. I think that is exciting to me.

Rafael:    The combination of these technologies and how they can impact human life.

Bill:           Yes, that’s fantastic.