CIO Insight: How do you approach mobility in terms of which devices you allow people to use?
Modruson: There are no standards and restrictions about the types of device employees can use. About 40,000 employees have devices we've provided, the rest bring their own to work. There are security requirements and we impose restrictions about how an employee connects to the network. But our thinking is we don't want to inhibit anyone. Today, and looking toward the future, we want to make it as easy as possible to access and share information.
CIO Insight: What are you doing in the area of collaboration and social media?
Modruson: It's an area that's evolving rapidly and it's a foundation for the future of the business. We have our own internal Facebook-type application. You can maintain your profile, tap into blogging capabilities, and use micro blogging and other tools. You can see a picture of the people you're talking to or interacting with, which is always nice. The system allows employees to connect in a far more intelligent and powerful way.
CIO Insight: Looking toward the future, what plans do you have as an organization and what do you see happening in IT overall?
Modruson: In the past, IT tweaked systems internally to get the performance level it needed. But that's rarely necessary today. Things are much more standardized and you have hosting and managed service providers that can reduce, if not eliminate, entire levels of complexity. I think we'll see a lot more cloud computing. For one thing, it's a cost efficiency play. For another, it's a scalability issue. As much as we've standardized, there are additional efficiencies to be gained by going out to the cloud. You can manage a larger number of devices with fewer people. The cloud is also a way to get rid of some mundane operational tasks, including managing e-mail.
Over the next few years, the cloud will change the nature of IT organizations. You'll still have an IT group because you need somebody to oversee the third party providers, plot contracts and oversee service providers that you're using within the cloud. But IT organizations will be smaller and it will become more of an exercise in strategy and IT management. Clouds have the potential to get rid of a lot of the daily noise of IT.
As a result, there will be growing acknowledgment that the power of information systems is in the data. We will see a lot more people focusing on data structures and how to unleash data and use it to build the business, interface with customers more effectively and introduce new products and services that match the needs of the marketplace. Software as a service and clouds simplify data management so they are here to stay. They move an IT department from an administrative and technical focus to a more strategic business focus.
CIO Insight: Any final thoughts about the direction IT is headed?
Modruson: One of the biggest challenges today is the speed at which things are changing. It used to be that longer IT cycles existed. Now, we see old business models colliding with new business models and transitions are becoming more difficult. The problem is getting rid of the old technology. Organizations have to understand--and it's certainly something that we have had to confront--that legacy systems hold an organization back and squelch innovation. They eventually become a big boat anchor. It's critically important to leave the past behind. That means moving to an all-IP network, embracing video and collaboration tools, tapping into social networking, relying on business analytics tools and, as much as possible, enabling mobility. In the end, everything has to come back to being strategic.