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Frequently Asked Questions

Often, I am asked questions regarding technology. Below, I have take some of my favorite questions and answers them for you in a hopes you will learn more about my technology philosophy. If you have questions I haven't answered below, please contact me as I love to talk about technology, especially how it affects business and society in general.

What In Technology Is Most Disruptive to Businesses Today?

There are 4 areas I feel today's business leaders should pay close attention: Cloud, Security, Automation and API's. These 4 areas are causing the biggest disruption in today's Information Technology departments and need to be addressed. Allow me to go in more detail on each.

The biggest disruptor in business technology over the last 20 years since the Internet is definitely the "Cloud". Cloud technology is the migration of technology from being hosted in-house by companies to instead being hosted by outside vendors in their data centers. Technology systems from telephone, email, customer relationship management (CRM) and more are finding themselves on the outside of traditional corporate networks in other companies' environment. While I am not predicting the end of the server room for all businesses, I can say that server room for most companies has shrunk in size and scope due to the cloud with both positive and negative results.

However, the news media doesn't cover cloud technology like they cover security or a company's lack of it. Security has many in the executive team and Board of Directors worried and they all look to the CIO/CTO for assurance security is covered. I often hear people say "we have great security" or "we have completed our security overhaul." When I hear that, I know to be cautious because today's hackers and malware vendors have more money and more resources than many governments and they don't rest. So security is something never done and keeps many CIO/CTO's on their toes reading about the latest threats to their business.

The third focus in IT departments today is automation and it can be a huge morale buster for over bloated and large IT departments. Today's new systems from vendors large and small are more automated than they used to be. Just like the days of the fax operator was numbered, so are many in the old school IT departments before system automation. From marketing automation to automatic backup systems, needing someone to sit and watch a server to make sure it is operational are gone. Most servers today are virtual if not offsite in a data center so scale and automation have made IT's footprint much more smaller than decades past.

While automation has reduced the size of IT departments, Application Protocol Interfaces (API's) have given rebirth to software developers inside IT departments. I say rebirth because we have had software developers in IT departments for years writing small programs called scripts which were many IT's department first attempt at automation. Those same developers and new ones are being added to the rolls of IT departments to integrate different systems using API's. If they aren't busy integrating vendor's API's, they are often found writing their own API's for companies smart enough to develop their own proprietary system to serve as their corporate technology platform in an effort to provide executives access to data in dashboard form detailing the performance of the company.

What Type Of CIO/CTO Are You?

The CIO/CTO's I have met over my career have 1 or more of the following 7 characteristics: transformational, strategist, tactical, innovator, techy, firefighter and jack of all trades. I will speak directly to these 7 characteristics and share with you the ones I do possess and the ones I don't.

Let's start with the type of CIO/CTO I am not. I have too often met CIO's and CTO's that love to jump from one emergency to another. I have a story I tell to perspective clients on the need to avoid the firefighter CIO/CTO because they are expensive and rarely add value. In most cases, the firefight CIO/CTO take away value rather than add it.

If you want to hear that story I share with prospects, be sure to ask me about what I have coined the "Munchausen CIO/CTO". I feel strongly disasters that occur in technology projects stem from 1 of 3 things: a lack of planning, a lack of systems or a lack of transparency and candor. Because of those strong feelings, I tend to avoid projects where I can foresee disasters due to the lack of these 3 factors. So I am definitely not a firefighter type of CIO/CTO. I'm not saying there will never be unscheduled set backs when I am involved. I just don't like them and work my tail off to avoid them so my team and I can spend more time in the builder role adding-value.

I'm don't build custom computers in my spare time or play video games so that would eliminate me from being an overly techy kind of CIO/CTO. I also delegate well to others so it would be hard to categorize me as a jack of all trades. Do misunderstand because I can do a lot of the hand-on technology work when necessary but when ever possible, I delegate to those professionals more qualified when they are available.

Now let's discuss the type of CIO I am. Having been an entrepreneur that has built technology products and worked with investors to launch multiple companies, I can definitely put myself in the innovator category. I would also consider myself a transformational CIO/CTO because I embrace change regularly seeking faster and better ways to deliver information to our team members, customers, vendors and other stakeholders more efficiently. Lastly, I look where my competitors may have not embraced technology to gain an competitive edge making me a strategist.

In summary, I would definitely say I am an CIO/CTO that embraces innovation and change while at the same time serve as the technology leader focusing on the core strategy. I have found that a winning combination for me and the technology projects I oversee.

Are you a Fan of Open Source or a Hater?

I was asked this question recently by the CIO of a large medical hospital system in the Southeast. Knowing they were a large Microsoft shop, I assumed he was looking for me to bash open source and we would have a good ole' hating conversation. However, I took the high road and just said "I like all technology whether it is open source or not."

As a good CIO/CTO, I generally avoid political hot topics like this and often give my standard consultant answer which is "it depends." It is the right answer because the decision to go open source or not really depends on the technical goals of the project. I do tend to lean toward products with 7 year plans knowing that the recycle rates of technology in business tend to be on 7 year cycles so knowing the long-term plan for a product can be helpful in those decisions. But I have also implemented just as many open source projects such as Wordpress, PHP, Drupal, Ruby on Rail and all those projects have turned out fine.

At Post.Bid.Ship., I made the decision we would build on top of Microsoft technology and it was a pretty easy decision. In the future, we already had plans to integrate our system with other a software manufactures in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software business as well as with large national freight brokerage firms and most of them have built on top of Microsoft which made the decision easy. Had the industry been the other way and predominately open source, I wouldn't have had a problem going open source in the slightest.

Sorry to disappoint anyone looking for me to bash open source or carry its flag but I have learned over my career that all technology is good for the consumer and the more we have, the better we are as an industry.

Do you use a Mac or PC?

Both! I use both Mac's and PC's because my users use both and I want to understand my users environment. I embrace all technology to be in a better position to make informed decisions that will affect my users experience in a positive way.

I love all technology and if it makes our users more productive, then you can bet I will learn to use it. At the end of the day, these devices are tools and they have to produce a positive ROI to stay around. As long as user loves their systems and embrace it and we can systematically support the technology across a growing organization, I will use and support it.