Operation Excellence croppedThis is unquestionably the best time to be a technology executive. The spectacular rise of customer-centric business strategies has transformed the role of tech leaders and elevated technology from the back office to center stage. The incredible success of companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Google and Microsoft has proven conclusively that technology has the power to drive global markets and create value that would have been unimaginable in previous eras.

I spoke recently with Wendy Pfeiffer, the CIO at Nutanix, the global leader in hyper-converged infrastructure for cloud computing, and asked her for her perspective on the new CIO mandate. Wendy had written an excellent guest column for us and delivered a fabulous presentation at the  HMG Strategy Silicon Valley Global Innovation Summit in Menlo Park this past February and I wanted to get her latest thinking on the transformational role of the CIO in rapidly changing times.

“We’re looking for the intersection of great technology and operational excellence. That’s what IT is all about,” Wendy says. “The CIO’s job is marrying those two disciplines.”

The best CIOs find the right balance, using superior technology to achieve and sustain operational excellence. “The modern enterprise needs transformational technology that is contained, framed and enabled by a robust operating model,” she explains. That’s why we need hybrid technologies and why we need to operate in a hybrid mode.”

The 21st century IT department is a “team of super heroes” combining the skills and talents of multiple individuals to reach a strategic objective. “We have visionary architects. We have operational experts. We have portfolio managers and support people. It’s totally a team effort,” Wendy says.

For many organizations, however, operating in hybrid mode is genuinely challenging. Leading cross-functional teams in a modern global enterprise requires astounding levels of focus, discipline and understanding. “The greatest challenge in IT is optimizing hybrid operations and managing diverse environments,” she says. 

The good news is that technology leaders are well equipped and perfectly positioned to guide the enterprise through the transformations that will be necessary for optimizing hybrid strategies. “We have the skills and we have the experience,” Wendy says. 

I admire Wendy’s confidence and her sense of purpose. She is a true technology leader and a role model for all of us. From my point of view, senior technology leaders have become absolutely indispensable to the modern enterprise. As Wendy notes, business now moves “at the speed of the machine.” When you’re moving ahead at full speed, there’s really no margin for error – you need the perfect blend of technology and operational excellence to stay in the game.