SIMposium 2014: How can CIOs integrate their technology and business skillsets?

Raj Patel, Sr. Director, Corporate and Field Marketing –

This past week, a number of our team members attended SIMposium 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The event was packed with tech-savvy execs, all with the goal of learning how they can more effectively integrate their technology skillset and strategies with the overall business models and goals of their companies. It’s by no means an easy task – there has long been an overly vast divide between the two specialties – but it’s one that aspiring IT leaders need to figure out if they expect to establish, define and extend their seats at “the business table.”

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Our CEO John Thompson has proven time and again his understanding of this delicate balance in his roles not only at Virtual Instruments, but also as chairman of the board at Microsoft, CEO of Symantec and general manager of IBM Americas. These are positions in which having a firm grasp of the overlap between technology and business is not a perk, but a necessity. It was only fitting that John deliver the closing keynote at SIMposium 2014 to share some of his insights.

One of the key points that John covered in his session was the idea that for CIOs and other IT leaders, in every space from virtualization and data centers to consumer tech, running an effective department comes with an equal understanding of the technology’s capabilities and the customer’s priorities. For many IT departments, it can be difficult to reconcile the two areas. IT teams will often get wrapped up in the latest technology trends and developments, such as converged systems and big data analytics, but at the end of the day, the customer’s main priority is performance. Across all vertical markets, from the customer’s perspective, if the technology is not meeting their performance goals in key categories, such as agility, efficiency and revenue growth, then there is going to be a technology-business disconnect.

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For CIOs looking to avoid this obstacle, John noted infrastructure performance management (IPM) as a developing category that can help overcome this divide between technological capabilities and the actual output for the end user. Putting IPM to use is a key step for the IT pros who want to bridge the gap between business and IT, and earn their seat at the table. Some successful high-profile executives that John cited in those seats were Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon; Shaygan Kheradpir, CEO of Juniper Networks; and Dawn Lepore, venture capitalist and former CEO of These individuals all used their unique skillsets to effectively communicate their goals and learn the language of their companies’ industries, ensuring they were able to effectively address both ends of the technology and business spectrum. For those looking to reach this same level, John suggests asking yourself questions to trigger a more business-oriented mentality, such as, “How will I acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to make the transition?”

If you missed John’s talk, don’t worry—our team is going to plenty of events over the next few months. Take a look at our calendar to see where we’re headed next.