sheila-jordan-strategy-planI had an excellent conversation recently with Sheila Jordan, SVP and CIO at Symantec, the global leader in cybersecurity. Sheila is responsible for driving Symantec’s information technology strategy and operations ensuring that the company has the right talent, stays ahead of technology trends, while maximizing technology investments.

Sheila has a remarkably clear vision of the CIO’s roadmap for 2025, and she genuinely understands the shifting landscape. In our conversation, I asked Sheila to describe her top focus areas and key action steps for achieving the company’s strategic goals.

“For CIOs, one of the first steps in digital transformation is getting rid of redundancy, duplication and legacy applications that are breeding grounds for security issues,” Sheila explains. “You need to eliminate the impediments preventing a smooth customer journey across your organization.”

From Sheila’s perspective, simplicity is essential to success in the modern enterprise. “You want to remove barriers and create frictionless journeys. That’s how you extract value from your technology.”

I love how Sheila places the primary focus on generating value for the business. “Operations are important, but extracting value and enabling key business processes are what make the organization great,” she says. “As CIOs, we have a unique vantage point allowing us to see horizontally across the entire organization. We know where the gaps are, and we know how to stitch together multiple processes to create seamless customer experiences.”

Exemplary CIOs focus on data first and applications second, she notes. “You need to shift your mindset and focus on what’s valuable to the organization. That’s why you want a strong data taxonomy and clean house with the fewest impediments.”

Sheila is also a strong proponent of planning, something that’s become a lost art these days in many organizations. “Upfront planning is always beneficial,” she says. “Some people think it slows them down, but in reality, planning helps you accelerate much more quickly and move faster. Having an end-to-end architectural view of both process and systems allows both IT and business professionals to visualize both upstream and downstream dependencies when creating this horizontal customer journey.”

I agree completely with Sheila’s advice.  Executing against a plan enables you to move more rapidly and with more confidence. That’s a key lesson for all technology leaders. 

Business cycles have become so tight in today’s markets that we often feel the need to move quickly, and sometimes we take shortcuts in planning. But even in our fastest changing markets, that’s rarely a good practice. 

We constantly need to remind ourselves that planning is a critical step in the strategic process of digital transformation. I’m grateful to Sheila for generously sharing her insight and experience, and I sincerely look forward to my next conversation with her.

Meantime, I highly recommend reading Sheila’s new book, You Are Not Ruining Your Kids: A Positive Perspective on the Working Mother. It’s an excellent book, filled with timely tips and actionable advice for parents and their families coping with the realities of 21st century living.