IT Visionaries host Ian Faison sat down with Susan Wee, Senior Vice President and CTO of Cisco DevNet. Susan shares the story of how DevNet began, the essential skills that future IT leaders will need, and her advice for anyone wants to become a CEO, CIO, or CTO.
But one of the major points she makes in the interview is about the future of IT, and the people who work in the industry.
IT is no longer just the ticket-taking department. In every company, the IT department is deeply ingrained in the success of the business itself. Susan says that being able to manage those new – and more major – responsibilities is a key skill for anyone who wants to be an IT leader in the future.
“Every business is having challenges,” she says. “Everyone needs to figure out how to go from brick and mortar shops to having online sales. They’re asking: how do that in retail? How do I do this in medicine? How do I compete against the new types of electric cars? What I’m doing? So with everybody, there’s a major disruption that’s going on in the industry, and what business leaders need to do is to be able to handle this and make the transition themselves.”
Making that transition often means modernizing your business, and introducing new technologies to make your company more efficient.
“The only way that your company will be successful is if it modernizes,” Susan says. “And if the IT leaders are basically using the newest cloud technologies, understanding public and private cloud and hybrid cloud and what’s there. If they are sure that they can mix with the newest applications in cloud service and also making sure they can properly handle their consumer data.”
“A lot lays in the hands of IT, and the more modern that IT professionals make themselves, the better everything can be. But that’s a hard thing to do, because it’s about learning new skills, risk-taking, and – quite honestly – IT can make or break the business based on what it does.”
So what is a new IT leader or a first time CIO to do? The main piece of advice Susan gives is to never get too comfortable with the status quo.
“My advice for a first time CIO would be to be bold,” she says. “And, a lot of times, you’re going to sit there and you’re saying, ‘Okay, I’m running things the way they’ve been run and they’ve been working well, how do I disrupt myself? How do I go to this newer world when I have the responsibility of everything that’s been done in the past?’ And the tendency is going to be to think that everything needs to be running in the same way that it used to run. So then the question is: how do you take that risk to embrace the newest technologies? You have to take risks, and you have to be bold in doing that. If you’re just going to make minimal changes to inch along, you’re just not going to get your company where it needs to be to handle all of these disruptions in this fast-moving industry.”
To listen to the entire interview, click here.