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Sean McDermott likes to say that his claim to fame is that he sent the very first email at the US Department of Justice. And while he enjoys being a part of that footnote in IT history, Sean — now the Founder and CEO of Windward Consulting Group — admits that the tech industry has come a long way since then, and it continues to evolve. Right now, the industry finds itself at an intersection — the government and the private sector have never needed IT more than they do today, and it’s a CIOs job to bring tech where it’s needed most. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Sean discusses the role his company plays in assisting large organizations at scale, solve their IT issues. Plus he explains what CIOs are looking for in today’s climate and the future of technology in the workspace.

Main Takeaways

  • You Gotta Spend Money To Make Money: One of the key struggles most CIOs are encountering is the rising cost of IT departments. While the demand for new technology and people to implement this technology continues to grow, the allocated budgets don’t always reflect the demand.
  • Is the Perimeter Secure?: The number one thing that remains top of mind for all technology leaders is the need to have a safe and secure network. As companies have gone remote, the need for IT operations departments to maintain a safe and secure network has never been more important. 
  • So, How About Some Change?: While IT departments are at the forefront of innovation, they still fulfill a lot of the same rudimentary requests — solving ticket requests, security concerns, and employee setup. Artificial intelligence, once fully integrated into IT workflows, will have a greater impact on the rate of evolution within the IT space.

 


 

Sean McDermott likes to say that his claim to fame is that he sent the very first email at the US Department of Justice. And while he enjoys being a part of that footnote in IT history, McDermott — now the Founder and CEO of Windward Consulting Group — admits that the tech industry has come a long way since then, and it continues to evolve. Right now, the industry finds itself at an intersection — the government and the private sector have never needed IT more than they do today, and it’s a CIOs job to bring tech where it’s needed most. On this episode of IT Visionaries, McDermott discusses the role his company plays in assisting large organizations at scale, solve their IT issues. Plus he explains what CIOs are looking for in today’s climate and the future of technology in the workspace.

As a serial entrepreneur, Mcdermott has worked for more than 20 years to assist both global and domestic clients, including the federal government in its design, development and operation of large-scale IT networks and data centers. 

In 1997, Mcdermott founded Windward Consulting Group, an organization born out of the idea that large-scale organizations need help managing their IT strategies and tactical advantage within the marketplace. Since the company’s origin, it has assisted more than 500 clients around the world with more than 2,000 projects.

According to McDermott, Windward works within two key sectors: assisting with the federal government and financial services, telecommunications and insurance. The common theme between the two: large organizations operating at scale.

“[These] are large companies with large infrastructures, they deal in scale,” he said.

“All of our commercial customers are Fortune 500 companies running massive global infrastructures, big data centers, and are highly IT-driven. We work with very sophisticated IT organizations dealing with various sophisticated problems that scale introduces.”

The focus at Windward remains on helping companies manage large infrastructures more efficiently. And by “manage,” McDermott noted that doesn’t mean handling the work for them.

“We don’t have people sitting in network operating centers and help desks, but we do provide them all the tools to do it better,” McDermott said. “We provide data analytics tools. We provide service desk applications, application configuration management, all those tools. And we link them all together and we integrate them together.”

One of the core things McDermott and Windward continue to work on is how to best integrate A.I. operations, which is now a core function for the business.

“There’s been a lot of promises of technology advances that were going to solve a lot of the problems of IT operations that I don’t think really came through,” he said. “We’ve made advances in automation, we’ve made advances in discovery, but we can do more.”

According to McDermott, right now the use of artificial intelligence when it comes to IT operations is mostly a buzzword and carries very little meaning besides for marketing purposes, but once implemented it should level up their capabilities.

“A.I. is a game-changer,” McDermott said.

Outside of the future of IT operations, McDermott spun the conversation back to the current issues CEOs, CTOs and CIOs are facing. Among the things that remain top of mind are three key categories: security, data analytics and IT cost.

“Security is always top of mind [for IT leaders],” he stressed. “It’s important to everything they do, and every decision they make. Assessing risk management of any new initiative or any current initiatives, you spend millions of dollars on security tools to secure your environment, not knowing that you actually have gaps, and you have requirements that aren’t being met. And every one of those requirements that isn’t being met is at risk. Our tool allows us to assess those gaps and help CEOs make decisions on where to make investments gaps.”

The second area centers on data analytics. According to McDermott, in every facet of the IT sector, everyone working is becoming more and more data-driven. CIOs are working to understand how they can better utilize their data and harness it, especially at a time when data continues to flow into IT departments.

The third and final measure concerning IT leaders today is the notion of cost when it comes to most IT operations.

“Cost is always at the top of the list of things people are worried about, IT operations is a cost center,” Mcdermott said. “IT operations still has a perception of being a cost center. The demands continue to grow, while the budget doesn’t necessarily grow with the increase in demand. CIOs spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to manage all this, how to make good investments, and how to keep the lights on, while also making strategic investments to modernize and become more agile.” 

As McDermott closed the conversation, he shifted back toward the future and the role technology plays in the advancement of business.

“I believe that companies that are not embracing technology are not really going to be viable in the future,” he said. “There’s nothing like a crisis to create innovation.”

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