The consumerization of IT is very real for these CIOs. Big enterprise IT has typically wanted standards, and with mobile and social there aren't defacto standards. Innovation is coming from those type of platforms, not from, as in the past, vendors bringing technology solutions to IT, according to Terrell. Google CIO, Fried indicated that technology for consumers is now the biggest driver of change.
For PG&E''s Karen Austin, IT is now a collaborative partner with the business. For instance, utilities infrastructure upgrades are now also a technology upgrade, as digital sensor and monitoring equipment now are part of the infrastructure. As such the business is shifting their budget to IT, moving IT out of an administrative function, to a core enabler of the business. Wal-Mart, according to Terrell is very disciplined to be the lowest cost provider, and that "maniacal focus" drives IT to the right priorities - "to be great in a few and good enough in the rest."
As a young company with a relatively young workforce, one focus area of Google's IT is to advance efficiency and to make the experience of working at Google better - for instance they've helped innovate with the hiring process at the company. The IT arena also has a mission to be the showcase in the use of Google technology - and that in turn, drives innovation back into the business, says Fried.
Innovation is one of Wal-Mart's best-kept secrets, according to Terrell. She indicated that Wal-Mart's Silicon Valley technology center has over 1000 technologists with an innovation focus on competitive advantage. Sometimes the business can drive innovation ahead of the customer, Terrell cautioned, so customer acceptance is a critical component.
Safety is the first priority of PG&E's innovation. In the utilitiy company's case, they are able to find great advantage in mobile, as many employees workflow and operations were paper-based.
Partnerships for innovation are an important model as well, indicated PG&E's Austin. The CTO of the U.S., Todd Park, reached out to PG&E and other utilities across the U.S. to develop and launch a Green Button initiative. The catalyzing of this kind of project is an element of the Obama administration's open-data strategy. An industry-led initiativem Green Button allows consumers to access their energy usage information to assess and make informed decisions about how they are using their electric power.
Another area of innovation will be in the area of big data. One challenge is to bring the old world data (where there's still tremendous value) into the era with all the unstructured data of the Internet. The biggest challenge may be one of talent, according to Terrell - the number of people who really understand the infrastructure and the platforms and how to integrate them is a "scarce natural resource."
Data strategies are crucial, according to CIO Google. It's a strategic risk if you don't have a data strategy, and while SaaS is the future, understanding what your core corporate assets are is vital. Data strategies, reference architectures and change management are key elements of PG&E's strategic approach. For Wal-Mart it's about the currency, availability and relevance of their data.
As this era of big data evolves, it will also transform computing, says Terrell. Now the model is to bring the data to the compute power, but this will essentially flip to where "compute is brought to the data."
The panelists indicated that labor arbitrage is transitioning. Juniper's Iyer felt that the risk of emphasizing that approach to sourcing was to diminish the opportunity for innovation. Wal-Mart CIO stressed the war for talent, and going to where the talent is becomes crucial (i.e., Silicon Valley).
Wal-Mart's Terrell mentioned of the upcoming generation "they don't think and act like we do - they are like the 'borg' they instinctively think and work collectively." For Juniper CIO Iyer it's about developing a leadership profile to mentor a generation of incoming workers who are very smart, adept at technology use, yet are still learning business contexts and perspectives.
A closing question from the audience queried these CIOs on their approach to collaboration. For Google, it's inherent in their products, co-creation of documents, interaction experiences, and Fried noted that Google itself has over 6,000 video endpoints that they use with Google Hangouts. Juniper rolls out a standard collaboration environment, but sees that their workers need to know how to use it to be effective. Terrell noted that Wal-Mart has hundreds of remote associates, just in IT, but also noted that the company has a formal culture, that has relied on a face-to-face approach.