By Alexander Pasik , Staff Executive, IT & CIO, IEEE
IEEE is a nonprofit organization that works towards fostering technological innovation for the benefit of humanity. A professional association headquartered in New York, it has over 400,000 members across 160 countries, the firm provides services, conducts conferences, and contributes to important developments in technology and engineering.
Alexander Pasik, Staff Executive, IT and CIO, IEEE is a known name in the industry circles. He discusses with SiliconIndia the future of SaaS, the evolving role of a CIO and the hurdles in the path of IEEE. Excerpts from the interview.
Priorities as a CIO:
IEEE provides technology-enabled services to over three million customers, the majority of the technology infrastructure and applications that I am responsible for are customer-facing products and services. Customers interact with IEEE as members of various societies; conference organizers, presenters, and attendees; authors, reviewers, and readers of scholarly journals; educators and students; and producers and consumers of standards. All of these are information businesses that rely heavily on the leveraging of existing and emerging technologies. As the CIO, I need not only lead the efforts to define, design, develop, deploy, deliver, and then decommission all of the technologies used by our stakeholders, but also I need to set our technology strategy for the future by accurately predicting trends in the IT industry. I also take care of the technology infrastructure and applications that are used throughout the business to support business processes.
I am also the senior member of IEEE's technical expert community, specializing in cloud computing. In this capacity, I write articles and present at conferences on the trends in cloud computing. As a member of IEEE's management council, I work with my peers who are the executives in charge of the other business units, the Executive Director of IEEE, and the Board of Directors, to define and execute the overall strategy of IEEE.
Current scenario - Technology Sector:
Ever since the rise of service-oriented architecture (SOA), technology has increasingly been developed and deployed as loosely coupled components i.e, components that can interact with each other even if they were not designed together. As such, parts of the technology ecosystem will reside in the cloud, and work seamlessly with end-user devices of all form factors, making use of big data stores when needed. The key to leveraging all of these advances is the ability to arbitrarily connect any of them to each other to produce innovative solutions.
Despite the apparent proliferation of SaaS, we are still in its infancy. One of the emerging trends I expect to see is the rise of industry-specific SaaS solutions. For example, in the healthcare industry, SaaS solutions for standardized electronic medical records management would be a boon for society.
Aligning goals of IT Departments and Business Units:
Many IT organizations consider the business units they serve as their internal customers. Indeed, this approach has been a dominant defining forces for corporate IT. However, that model is inappropriate. The relationship between a provider and its customer is necessarily adversarial. Provider and customer negotiate to arrive at a middle ground that tries to satisfy both of their needs which are in a very real sense opposite. The provider wants to make more money for less service while the customer wants to pay less for more service. A successful provider - customer relationship is derived from a successful compromise. In contrast, IT departments and their partner business units have goals that are aligned, both want to maximize the success of the business. Combining this realization with the IT trend toward cloud computing, the CIO and the IT department needs to be increasingly a strategic partner with the business units in designing how to leverage emerging technologies for business benefit including perhaps completely redesigning current business models and processes based on new technology capabilities.
Roadblocks to Overcome:
IEEE is in the different business like publishing, the conference, the society and membership, the standards business, and the education. One of the key challenges is that each and every one of the business lines is in a dramatic period of change in which existing business models are likely to either disappear or at least be very different five years from now. The fact that each of the businesses is changing, together with the fact that as a whole, IEEE's may be changing as well, the technology to support those changes as well as drive those changes will be a constantly moving target. Working with the right technology partners, adopting the right technology architectures, and delivering the right technology solutions to support the dramatic changes is the constant challenge for IT at IEEE.