This is episode #22 and is the second part of my conversation with Charlie Feld. Once you have finished with this episode be sure to listen to last weeks episode #21 and part 1 of my conversation where Charlie shares his extraordinary 50-year career helping organizations and executives achieve IT-driven transformation, how the IT industry lacked a formal framework, and how IT needs to handle the speed of change for their organizations to be successful.
Charlie began his career as a systems engineer at IBM, before the world grasped what a computer was. As that changed, the company’s exponential growth opened up opportunities for Charlie.
At 26 Charlie was named the lead of a new team in Dallas, where he oversaw the company’s Frito-Lay account, and a little more than a decade into his time at IBM, he left the company for the PepsiCo-owned snack maker.
Two years later, in 1983, Charlie was promoted to vice president and chief information officer at Frito-Lay.
After 12 years with Frito-Lay, Charlie formed an organization, The Feld Group Institute, that would do interim CIO work. These teams would enter companies in need, clean up issues on the IT side, and – crucially – leave the companies with a foundation to continue succeeding after departure.
Currently as the founder and CEO of The Feld Group Institute, but with a career as long as there has been an IT industry, Charlie is considered the First CIO in corporate America and has led transformation efforts for organizations including Frito-Lay, Southwest Airlines, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta, FedEx, EDS and BNSF.
You can find more information about Charlie and The Feld Group Institute at www.feldgroupinstitute.com.
On this weeks episode Charlie provides his perspective on what makes a modern day CIO, and how can they be successful.
To begin with he wants to rename the CIO role from Chief Information Officer to Chief Integration Officer. Other than perhaps the COO, the CIO (the Chief Integration Officer) needs to truly understand the full extent of a business and the integration points across each function - from sales and marketing, to manufacturing and distribution, to finance and support.
A modern day CIO needs to step into the conversation with their leadership team, be collaborative, be passionate, be part of the conversation about the Who, the What, and the How and be a storyteller to get buy-in to a multi-year story that will lead to a multi-year plan. Charlie recommends to start with the story, the outline and direction to get buy-in, don’t jump straight into detailed projects and specifics.
Charlie goes on to discuss the multiple risks (i.e. Cybersecurity) in not modernizing legacy IT technology, with one of the major risks to your existing business is that your IT leadership who understand your legacy systems will be retiring in the next 5-10 years and taking that knowledge with them. This should be a real concern for all organizations, and is something relatively easy to wrap your head around - but the solution is not to train your newer staff on old technologies, but rather to modernize these systems.
The modernization of an organization’s legacy IT can no longer be ignored, the risks to site and system reliability and the risks to not being able to build for the future are too high.
To be able to be ready for the future, whilst modernizing the legacy technology of their organization, Charlie recommends building integration hubs tying together your organization and build for change so that you don’t start to create a new batch of legacy IT that needs to be modernized again in ten years time.
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I hope you enjoy this episode!
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