Taking Risks Means Big Business in the Digital Era

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That’s what close to 80 Global CIOs and 25 of Cisco top executives heard at the recent Cisco CIO Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

 

By Stefanie McCann, Editor, Connected Futures

Digital transformation means re-inventing how you run your organization. That means addressing culture, talent, technology and more.

If you embrace the entire sea of change that digital presents, you will reap enormous benefits from this digital era.

But you need to react quickly.

That’s what close to 80 Global CIOs and 25 of Cisco top executives heard and discussed at the recent Cisco CIO Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco kicked off the event by telling the room that, “Digital disruption is real. It’s going to have an impact on just about every single industry.”

After Robbins’ keynote, four of the Peter Thiel Fellows, ages 17 to 23 years old, joined Chris Hughes, Co-Founder of Facebook, onstage for a provocative discussion.

This group of young entrepreneurs challenged the CIOs to look at where innovation is happening. They inspired everyone to think differently about developing the culture and hiring practices within their own organizations.

“Someone out of school doesn’t know if something is impossible, so they try to do it anyway,” said Thomas Sohmers one of the Thiel Fellows and CEO of Rex Computing, a fabless semiconductor startup.

 “They’re willing to take bigger risks.” Enterprises need to encourage risk-taking, the Thiel Fellows collectively said.

Get rid of meetings, set work hours and approvals. Make it easy for people to try new things. Get and give honest feedback.

The discussion gave the CIOs a lot to discuss as they headed into an elegant reception and dinner outside under the stars.

The next day the CIOs heard from other industry thought leaders and Cisco’s own SVP and CIO, Guillermo Diaz, Jr.

Let’s take a peek into some of the sessions:

Diaz set the tone of how quickly the CIOs in the audience must move. He said, “Fast IT isn’t fast enough. We need to talk in terms of 10X rather than 10%.”

The conversation went from speed needed to succeed in the digital era to the IT Talent Crisis.

According to a recent report by Gartner, 66% of CIOs believe there is a talent crisis in the world. The CIOs at the event agreed that hiring in today’s world is difficult.

The traditional incentives like money and titles aren’t as effective as they used to be.

The discussion mirrored what the Thiel Fellows talked about the previous evening.

Employees want to feel that their work has a bigger purpose, they want autonomy and responsibility, and they expect flexibility from their employer. Employers need to respond to these needs if they’re going to recruit the best people.

But the provocative thinking didn’t end there. Marcus Shingles, Partner, Deloitte gave a fast-paced talk on using crowdsourcing to enhance innovation, disrupt markets and create entirely new ones.

The discussion was an extension of the talent session, “The best people in the world are now working for the crowd,” Shingles told the CIO.

And of course, a gathering of CIOs could not be complete without an in depth view on Security. Everything an organization does, must include security.

To close out the day, Jeff Moss, Former Hacker and Founder of DEFCON and Blackhat, took the stage with David Sanger, New York Times National Security Correspondent. They illustrated how your organization could be the next target.

“You may not be the target. Someone else may be the target, but they go through you to get to the target,” Moss said. “You can’t really calculate who your adversary is, ” Moss told the CIOs.

He went on to talk about how a decision an organization makes could anger a special interest group. “If you look at the heart of what got Google attacked from China, it was because a general in the PLA Googled himself and didn’t like the results,” Moss said and continued to tell the story. “And told someone to get that out of Google. It wasn’t some national strategy they had. It was personally driven.”

The CIOs were treated to a closing day that involved Fast Cars and Leadership inspiration.

The man who at one time held the world land speed record told the crowd how the new Bloodhound Project is attempting to build a $60 million car that can travel at more than 1,000 miles per hour.

Richard Noble, Project Director, Bloodhound wowed the audience with a series of memorable videos, but his most important message was about public-private collaboration and the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to education.

The Summit wrapped up with the former Commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, who tied together the themes of disruption, crowdsourcing, organizational agility and strategic technology.

“Traditional leadership doesn’t work anymore,” General Stanley McChrystal summed up.

The new role of the leader is to create an environment where individuals flourish. Drawing an analogy to gardening, he concluded, “A gardener grows nothing. It’s the plants that grow. Gardeners create an environment where plants are enabled to do what they do.”


Paul Gillin, former Editor-in-Chief of Computerworld and Current writer and B2B content marketing strategist, contributed to this report.


More Information: Digital Transformation requires new CxO skills and participation from the boardroom. Learn how to get your organization on the path for successful digital transformation.