Voila! New staff, new mindset

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Magic Wand Infrastructure Part 3

Part three of a four-part Magic Wand Infrastructure series.
Part 1: What's your magic wand infrastructure?
Part 2: Waving away complexity
Part 3: Voila! New staff, new mindset
Part 4: Barriers to making magic

Pete Buonora, Enterprise Architect, BJ’s Wholesale Club
Tim Elkins, CIO, PrimeLending
Cynthia Stoddard, SVP and CIO, NetApp
Cliff Tamplin, former VP of Technology Support & Risk Management, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

INTRODUCTION: What if you were handed a magic wand and could wave away the past? The Enterprisers Project assembled a group of seasoned IT leaders in an interactive exchange to find out.  Here are highlights from the conversation.

Voila! New Staff, New Mindset

The Enterprisers Project (TEP): Another ‘wand event’ would be the ability to replace any existing staff today. What kinds of people would that ability to create your own infrastructure allow you to bring in and what kinds of people would you look for?  

Cynthia Stoddard: I guess I would look for people who were open to exploring a broker role, understanding what’s in the marketplace, and crafting solutions using tools that are available to them. Versus somebody who has the attitude that it has to be either built or configured by themselves and their teams. Because I still think there’s a belief out there that you can only create something that provides new value if you build it from scratch, as opposed to taking different components, looking at the wide variety of tools you might have in a broader tool kit, and bringing them together. That’s the kind of skill or personality change I’d look for, people moving past the traditional attitude of builders to one where they have an active desire to want to go out, explore, learn, change things, and craft solutions from a broader view.

Cliff Tamplin: I agree with that, Cynthia. I think if we can’t use the wand to eliminate the systems, the other thing we need are experts who are capable of handling the integration between new and/or legacy systems and can do it far faster.

Cynthia Stoddard: That’s an absolutely great point. And I think for the foreseeable future, if you have the magic wand and the systems are there, the integrations are still absolutely key.

Tim Elkins: What we did at Prime was to bring in some folks from the business that were a little bit more strategic on and know where the business was trying to go. We’re actually working with third-party vendors who are moving a bit more outside the box on how things could get done. But to lead those teams. You don't need team leaders who are as technical as they used to be.

Cliff Tamplin: I’m not sure I’d say you don’t need the technical skills. With some of the outsourcers you might need even sharper people, if fewer, who can make sure that the outsourcers are doing what they’re supposed to do. The days when you could just have someone sitting in the corner who knows everything there is to know about payroll are gone.

Pete Buonora: I’d agree. I think as these systems get more complex you get into more integrated cloud systems that go across all the infrastructure and applications, you need staff who understand how all these pieces fit together, not just experts in one specific area who are focused on one specific thing like servers. It’s a bit like moving from an individual handcrafted mentality to a more industrialized one. As everything gets more automated you need someone who is skilled enough to be able to see all of the work going across the areas of the “factory” and see where the bottlenecks are to be able to correct them.

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