Feb 212011

Jack Wilson, Principal at Virtual Savant LLC and former VP & CTO with Amerisure Mutual Insurance will be one of our featured guests for the upcoming CIO Executive Series virtual roundtable on March 2nd at Noon EST.

Jack was nationally recognized for successfully implementing desktop virtualization for Amerisure and was InfoWorld’s 2009 Top CTO. Jack led his team to transform Amerisure’s technology from a complex, expensive and inefficient situation into a streamlined virtual architecture environment where Amerisure’s business staff can now acess data “anytime, from anywhere, from any device.”

I am really looking forward to a dynamic and informative discussion among our CIOES members and the other VDI vendor experts. If you haven’t signed up – do!

Dec 202010
Ken Cohn, VP and CIO for Pepco

Ken is the CIO of Pepco, a utility company with over 8,000 employees. Ken has been a CIO Executive Series member for over eight years. Today, I caught up with Ken to get his thoughts on his career as he will retire at the end of this month. Biggest challenges in his career:

Business: When Ken started with Pepco in 1977, Pepco owned everything from the power plant to the lines going into the homes. With deregulation, Pepco became a transmission and distribution company. Ken sites Pepco’s two mergers as the most challenging in his career – the first merger failed after two years, but the second one was successful.

Technology: Due to new technologies such as, Smart Grid and Advanced Metering, the utility industry has to lead and not follow technology adoption. This is a huge shift for Pepco. Ken shared that utilities like ‘tried and true’ or ‘best practice’ style products. Well, in the technology innovation space, successful companies are early adopters. This is a challenge for an industry not used to products early in the maturity cycle.

Three Learning Points: (1) As the first CIO for Pepco, Ken shared with me that he learned very quickly that he can’t be all things to all people. Hire and build an excellent IT team. His staff has helped him tremendously to be able to lead technology at Pepco. (2) A CIO must understand how the business processes work and how those functions relate to the technology. (3) It is important to built good will, trust, and a feeling of inclusion when blending two corporate cultures. In Pepco’s second successful merger, Ken, as the CIO, was brought in early to do due diligence work. All integration decisions were made based on cost/benefit, not who was the bigger company in the merger. Ken said that this certainly helped make the transition smoother between both organizations and this aided in success of the merger.

On behalf of CIO Executive Series, I would like to congratulate Ken on his successful career. I wish him health, happiness and if his schedule permits, he is always welcome at our roundtables!

CIO as the Unique Thought Leader

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May 252010

Bill: What unique thing does your company do that you think is a differentiator for your company?
“Our founder had a key vision of knowledge management (KM) early on within the company. He thought that an engineer should be able to be hired and if they needed to know how concrete was poured then there should be an instruction manual or video that explains this process. As a result we can train employees on a wide variety of items that they need to know. An unexpected benefit of KM is that it helps our selling efforts since we can talk to the prospective client about process and build their confidence in our ability to perform the job for them.” Murphy Note – I love the way KM can impact sales!

Bill: What unique leadership do you bring to your IT team and to the organization as a whole?
“Well, I am a problem solver. I love to solve problems both technical and business. I am very comfortable with both rolling my sleeves up with the guys on my team and also strategizing with the Sr Executive team. I am also very good at buying things cheap. I rarely buy new and prefer to buy “Certified Per-Owned or Pre-Loved” as I humorously refer to it. This has allowed me to drive our acquisition costs down by 30%. It is important to note though that I don’t let my guys waste time trying to fix pre-owned equipment. I would lose any gains quickly if I allowed this. I simply replace the equipment. I am buying at such a discount that the numbers are too compelling to ignore.”

Bill: What do you want to see from your peers in the group?
“Well I would like to see us talk about Desktop Virtualization. I just don’t think that a CIO can ignore this compelling technology. I already buy PCs cheap. Can you imagine what would happen de-coupling the O/S and Application from the Desktop all together. I could extend the refresh cycles of my PCs even more. I am very interested in continued dialogue on this front.
Data Center Outsourcing and Rack Space Outsourcing: I would like to have continued dialogue regarding Cloud Computing. My limiting factor is BGE and Verizon. Conversations with my peers on this subject are very important to me.
Google Apps/Docs: Last week you said that a member CIO had deployed Google’s technology. I loved hearing this and would like to have more dialogue on this topic.