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Technology Should Grow Smarter

Greg Schwartz, CIO & SVP, United Services Automobile Association
Greg Schwartz, CIO & SVP, United Services Automobile Association

Greg Schwartz, CIO & SVP, United Services Automobile Association

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectations

Today customers want quick and easy access to services and options without the need to interact with people. The challenge is coupled with the need to deploy a single solution across many platforms and devices in order to meet the customer needs. Vendors seek to differentiate their products from other offerings in the industry, often resulting in many solutions that do not interact or connect well. My wish would be to have vendors that understand the expectation of fully interconnected solutions that in reality help solve this issue and support deploying to many devices.

USAA exists to serve our members and help meet their financial needs. Providing a rich, integrated experience for our members create complexity in our technical environment. I would like to have a monitoring system in place much like the human nervous system. As soon as I stub my toe, I know it! I’d like a monitoring system that has that same self awareness. As soon as a problem is detected, the system automatically instruments a solution- a self-healing system, if you will.

 The areas in business environment where solutions do not yet exist or not up to the mark, and which if existed, would've made job easier 

Technology trends impacting enterprise business environment

I believe big data analytics is going to be a challenge for all companies. Most struggle with ingesting the data already available through operational systems, let alone adding in unstructured data from external sources, like the internet. The big data challenge will continue to be a concern until a compelling approach can be made by vendors to align together for their customer’s benefit. Another impacted area is due to the rapid changes in technology endpoints that put stress on the infrastructure.

My roles and responsibilities as a CIO

I don’t believe my role as a CIO has effectively changed that much. A CIO’s job is to take care of the day-today operations and help our business partners solve real business problems. What has changed is the breathtaking pace at which new technology and innovation is introduced into the market. Technology which was once a barrier to solving many business problems is now the preferred solution to many business opportunities. So, I would agree that the world is more complex and the conversations are more strategic. I would also say that influence and collaboration skills are an absolute must for today’s CIOs. Without a doubt, I’m having much more fun today and the work is much more fulfilling!

Lessons learned as a CIO

I think that there is a recipe for success. First, you have to build credibility with your business partners. Secondly, you have to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) for your team. They can accomplish feats they don’t believe they can achieve until you challenge them. And that leads to, perhaps, the most important advice I would give. Hire and retain the best. Take the time and money to give them the training they need to grow. Believe in them and give them the freedom to succeed.

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