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Managing Risks Effectively to Stay on the Top

Ralph Loura, CIO, The Clorox Company
Ralph Loura, CIO, The Clorox Company

Ralph Loura, CIO, The Clorox Company

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2014

The technology needed to solve most complex business problems is readily available. Increasingly, it is being assembled into platforms, applications and processes that can be consumed as services in either “on premise” or “cloud”-based offerings. But much like the closet organizer system I bought when my family last moved, “some assembly is required.” What’s missing are new architectures and systems thinking to better plan the necessary components, subassemblies and local customizations to best support the desired outcome for the enterprise equivalent of that closet. Data governance on a massive scale, cyber security and risk, and user-centric design and application simplification are just a few of a long list of architectural areas that need work.

Solutions that would make my job easier

Application simplification is an area where we have seen, and will continue to see, significant changes. To roll out a customer-facing application for CRM, time and expenses, and other areas, it used to take many quarters and many staff years. Now you can roll out a mobile app in a few weeks. It will only have two or three features compared to the dozens of features in the old meme, but they can be deployed quickly, and you can always deploy multiple apps. Fast-forward a few years, however, and your enterprise app store has hundreds of apps, and the user has trouble remembering what app to use for what problem, among other challenges. We need app framework/architectures so that these smaller, fewer feature apps fit into a larger whole, with a more sensible and cohesive user interface.

"Don’t look for quick fixes in the cloud or from existing vendors"

Trends impacting enterprise business environment

The much discussed SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) technologies certainly continue to be of interest and have ongoing impact. Additionally, things like digital printing and the “Internet of Things” are worth keeping an eye on.

Changing role of CIOs

Three to four years ago we were more focused on fundamental and functional delivery of services. During the past several years we’ve been working more on business capabilities connected with our corporate strategy, more on capabilities that drive the top line and drive differentiation. Lessons learned and advice to fellow CIOs Don’t look for quick fixes in the cloud or from existing vendors. You can’t outsource your thinking or your strategy. Connect IT to the purpose of the company, stay focused on that purpose, and get comfortable with understanding and managing the new sets of risks that have emerged and are emerging. Have fun. It’s a great time to be a technology leader.

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