It’s time to turn your digital vision into reality — and fast. That was the message at the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass. The annual event attracted more than 900 senior-level IT decision-makers from around the country and the globe for what organizers billed as a day of learning, networking and spirited discussion.
Sessions at the event featured leading IT practitioners and academics, all doling out practical advice for planning and executing a digital transformation strategy. Of course, that meant discussing the building blocks of digital transformation: AI, internet of things, cloud computing, Agile, DevOps, organizational leadership, digital culture and more.
The SearchCIO team was there to cover — and capture — it.
Scroll through our Instagram roundup of the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and relive a few of the many illuminating and interesting moments from this year’s event.
8:35 a.m.: Before the opening panel session, Kresge Auditorium
Let the Symposium begin.
Prior to the opening panel session, attendees perused the vendor showcase in Kresge and reviewed the day’s schedule, with complimentary totes in hand.
8:45 a.m.: “Creating a Digital Culture,” Kresge Auditorium
MIT’s George Westerman moderated the opening panel on how to best create a digital culture. As Westerman and the panel emphasized, digital transformation is, above all, a leadership challenge. “Technology changes quickly; organizations change much more slowly,” Westerman said at the start of the panel.
One of many interesting tidbits: Panelists said organizations need to change their outlook on talent. “The right people often look wrong,” said Melissa Swift, global leader for digital solutions at Korn Ferry Hay Group. The traits that might seem jarring to corporate executives may well be the ones the company needs to build a digital culture. Iconoclasts, not clones, should get a second look.
12:00 p.m.: “Insights from the Leadership Award Finalists,” Sala De Puerto Rico
As attendees munched on their salads, MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award finalists doled out sage advice on how they’ve transformed their organizations. Some sound bites from the session:
“Our job as CIOs is really more of psychologists or priests,” said Atefeh Riazi, assistant secretary-general and chief information technology officer at the United Nations. She emphasized it’s not technology that’s the biggest challenge; it’s change management.
“Innovation is about doing the same thing differently,” said Harmeen Mehta, global CIO and head of digital at Bharti Airtel Ltd.
“Understand the context many senior executives are under,” said Mike Macrie, senior vice president and CIO at Land O’Lakes Inc. Older executives aren’t as familiar with technology, so CIOs need to have patience.
1:15 p.m.: “Implementing AI,” Kresge Little Theater
What two words best describe your AI implementation efforts at this time? The blue screen shows how audience members sitting in the “Implementation AI” session responded. Hype and slow were two of the top words, followed by ethically challenged and limited. Panelists, pictured here, are moderator Michael Schrage, Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard, Kayak CTO Giorgos Zacharia and DBS Bank CIO David Gledhill.
1:45 p.m.: Lights, camera, action! Outside Kresge Auditorium
SearchCIO’s Mekhala Roy interviewed Harmeen Mehta, global CIO at Indian telecom giant Airtel and this year’s Leadership Award winner, outside Kresge — one of our many video interviews. During the interview, Mehta said everything she does in her organization has to create new value for the company, create a new business model, solve an existing problem or drastically reduce costs.
2:45 p.m.: “Building the Intelligent Enterprise using AI, ML, Mobility and Cloud Services,” Kresge Auditorium
During this session, panelists shared the hard-won lessons they learned from transforming their organizations into so-called intelligent enterprises. One lesson from Alston Ghafourifar, CEO and co-founder of Entefy Inc.: “An intelligent enterprise is too big of a transformation to actually do alone and to do entirely internal … you have to partner.” They also discussed best practices for managing large data sets, which include taking advantage of edge computing and Lambda architecture.
4:00 p.m.: “Articulating your Digital Vision,” Kresge Auditorium
During her presentation, Jeanne Ross, director and principal research scientist at MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, said IT needs to shift from enabling business strategy to inspiring it. Enabling is no longer enough anymore; IT needs to inspire new sources of revenue and new value propositions. The sources of that inspiration include ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity and massive processing power.
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