On December 10th, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) held their annual CIO Panel at the Metropolitan Ballroom and Clubroom in Golden Valley. A panel of six technology executives from businesses headquartered in MN and the State of MN discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by technology and innovation in the coming year. The six panelists were Anil Arcagud, EVP and CIO at Ecolab, John Avenson, VP of Technology for the MN Twins Baseball Club, Dr. Sameer Badlani, CIO at Fairview Health Services, Sean Lennon, CIO at Medtronic, and Tarek Tomes, CIO for the State of MN. Our colleagues Mike Herrlin and Dominick Rosario attended the event and gained some valuable insights.
After a short breakfast and networking session, the panelists took the stage and the moderator kicked off the presentations. Each of the panelists had seven minutes to discuss the role of technology in their organization, with a particular focus on their challenges, goals, and opportunities for 2020. One of the more interesting insights was when Anil Arcagud explained how Ecolab has approximately 3 million IoT devices across the world that collect close to 1PB of data a year. His challenge is understanding how much of that 1PB they actually need in order to make actionable strategic decisions. Another highlight came when Dr. Sameer Badlani emphasized how far behind the Healthcare industry is when it comes to technology, and that for Fairview, the goal is for technology to be a pillar of Patient Care as well as Business Operations. Although each of the panelists discussed issues that were unique to their business and industry, there were some common themes across each of the presentations. These can be summarized by the understanding that customer experience (internal and external) is their number one priority, and the purpose of technology and innovation is to improve that experience.
After the presentations concluded, the floor was opened for questions and someone asked the panelists what skills and qualities they believed the next generation of leaders would need based on advancements in technology. According to Sameer, the ongoing Digital Transformation means we are at the forefront of getting much greater insights through AI, and as a result, next generational leaders will need to think like data scientists. The panelists also agreed that the need for “business people” and “tech people” to collaborate and work together has never been greater and will continue to grow in importance as organizations deal with a shortage of technical talent and the accompanying IT staffing gap.