In my previous blog, I reported on an interview with William Compton, CIO and VP-Information Management for ConvaTec, a leader and marketer of medical technologies worldwide.
After successfully leading a global company through a divestiture, William maintains a keen focus on IT as a business enabler. As there is an abundance of technologies, trends and issues to consider, I asked William to share his point-of-view as companies move forward in 2010. Here is Part II of the interview.
William, what is your perspective on trends such as green IT, mobility and wireless communication, unified communication, cloud computing, and data deluge? Our world continues to experience data overload and at times is starved for information. That statement is nothing new and is something we’ve been fighting since the dawn of the computer. We create things, originally documents, spreadsheets and database, and then we spend expensive human time recreating them. Now, you add other types of data like video, images, voicemail, e-mail, tweets, and everything else, and you really do have data overload. It’s quite possible that every current IT trend is happening simply to try and solve the data overload… unified communications because we are all data junkies, similar story for wireless and mobility, Cloud Computing because we can’t afford the infrastructure capacity to deal with data processor spikes, Green IT because our data centers have too many assets in them caused by too much processing and storage.
Cloud Computing is simply taking us back to a time when we shared computing resources to make it more cost effective. Originally, it was time sharing on the processor and multiplexing on the network. We then moved to shared outsourced data centers, comingled locations, and leveraged teams. Now we’re talking Clouds.
Green IT is another one we should be focusing on. Not because it is Green IT, but as a general need to be more efficient with resources and have a lower ecological impact. We’ve just branded it Green. Green IT, Green Packaging, Green Cleaning Products. Kind of like the term “e” in the 1990’s. The right answer is to manage all assets similar to how we manage cash for the best return, and if you take the long view, that includes the environmental impact. Poorly managing the environmental costs will increase power consumption, disposal costs, potentially cost of carbon credits and so forth. Each one of these costs is wasted spend because they aren’t doing anything to help advance the business.
As a leader and CIO of a global company, what is top of mind for you, and what keeps you up at night? What keeps me up at night is our people. Do we have the right ones? Do we have the right number? What skills should we be developing for the future? We had a great run in 2009, delivering lots of high impact projects, but not without taking a toll on our workforce. How do you continue to give people good opportunities and meaningful work after such a successful year? If you want to keep a great team engaged and retained, that takes time and effort. By the way, this doesn’t extend to just our employees, but the folks that we partner with at our customers, our outsourced providers, suppliers, and internal colleagues.
Additionally, the consumerism of IT is something all CIOs have to manage now. With the advent of non-funded services like Facebook, Gmail, MyYahoo, etc., a great deal of technology looks free. Of course it isn’t really free since it’s funded by advertising dollars, but it does appear that way to the consumer. Now, when people come to work, they want to know why our e-mail doesn’t do this or do that or why our PC’s average 24 months old. You can’t say, because Google spends $X dollars on R&D for IT or because we depreciate our IT assets over 42 months. So, you need to try and keep up with the consumer IT in a cost effective manner.
On a side note, do you participate in social media such as facebook, twitter, YouTube, etc.? I’m not a big social media user, but I do have accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is good place to manage professional contacts and Facebook is more of a social tool. They can both be difficult to manage since they can consume hours if you let them! Internally to ConvaTec, I write a blog which is geared to the IM team. In that I like to cover internal happenings at ConvaTec, recognize key IM projects, and provide some general insight to what our leadership team is thinking.
What's your favorite video/interactive game? I don’t play any online games, but we just got the Nintendo Wii for Christmas and the family loves it! We haven’t advanced very far, but my six year old is a really good bowler! If you think about the Wii from a technology perspective, the handheld controller is a marvel! Couple that with the iPhone touch screen, iPod wheel and the blackberry keyboard we really have seen some mega advances in input devices in the last few years. And we thought the stylus and the trackball were big advances!
What's the longest amount of time you've been without your Blackberry? In the summer, my father and I spent a day at the US Open at Bethpage. We left early in the morning, took a train into New York City, then out to Long Island. No Blackberry for over 12 hours. It was pretty liberating!
As you consider William’s perspective, I invite you to share your thoughts on the IT trends and priorities relevant to your enterprise in 2010.
About William Compton
William Compton is VP-Information Management and CIO for ConvaTec, a global leader in medical devices. His organization transformed ConvaTec after its divestiture from Bristol-Myers Squibb by implementing SAP, rolling out a global infrastructure, and reducing legacy applications by 70%.
William joined ConvaTec, a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb, in 2006. At the former parent company from 1998, he served as Director-Site Services-Americas and Director-Strategic Outsourcing. He holds a BS in Business and Information Systems from East Carolina University and a MBA from The College of William and Mary.