2016 Premier 100 Technology Leaders

Meet the 2016 Premier 100

The annual Computerworld Premier 100 awards shine a spotlight on individuals who have had a positive impact on their organization through technology.

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This year’s honorees represent more than 20 industries and organizations of all sizes, so you’re sure to find a project that piques your interest. Many of these technology executives -- some just starting out, and others well along in their careers -- also identify the title they aspire to someday. Their ideas could help you map out your own IT trajectory.

Peter Nichol

Peter Nichol

Title
Healthcare expert

Employer
PA Consulting Group (formerly Head of IT, Access Health CT)

Location
Hartford Conn.

Career highlight:
As a positive leader grounded by integrity, I inspire my organizations to think differently, act differently and perform differently for better results. My ability to assess and anticipate risk is heavily influenced by my personal experiences as a commercial pilot and master wreck diver.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
While advances in energy storage technology and wearables are interesting, I find “internables” (technologies within the body) and blockchain, with its ability to transform global healthcare interoperability, to be the most fascinating.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Clinical health will be transformed by 2020, and genetic information will edge out clinical information for decision-making. Genomic advancements will blaze the way for better patient outcomes with genome virus sequencing and personal genome sequencing becoming part of the everyday patient experience. Big data analytics truly will empower patients to be the ‘CEO of their personal health.’

How do you find time to innovate?
By building a system and a process that allows my teams to innovate. Goals plan progress -- systems make progress. Innovation requires a repeatable system to reframe thinking, to welcome the new and uncomfortable.

Darren P. Oliver

Darren P. Oliver

Title
National director, IT

Employer
Herron Todd White

Location
​Brisbane, Australia

Emerging technologies that have captured your interest:
Unmanned aerial vehicles, augmented reality and wearables. Being a large provider of rural property valuations, we find that drones can provide real-time imagery and spatial awareness of a property, while giving employees real-time access to information in a nonintrusive and intuitive way. In similar ways, augmented reality can provide property valuers with the ability to remotely view and inspect properties with a fully immersive experience from the convenience of their offices.

A recent innovative staff idea:
Our solution architect instituted a regular “hack day” for our development team, when people are encouraged to work on things that interest them but may or may not have direct impact on their current projects. It gives the developers a creative outlet without the confines of specific business requirements.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Because of concerns about cybercrime and cyberwarfare, we will see an increase in the use of private clouds for storing sensitive and critical data, and a movement away from the big public cloud companies. On the positive side, wearables and augmented and virtual reality will become mainstream in the enterprise.

Dennis Pannuto

Dennis Pannuto

Title
CTO

Employer
A+E Networks

Location
New York

Coolest project:
We are focused on creating a consumer-like experience for our enterprise applications. In the consumer world, someone’s emotional reaction to an app determines whether they’ll use it again. Why should it be any different in the corporate world? In order to align with contemporary trends, we have brought in developers with experience in consumer apps to create our corporate apps.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Just as the music business drastically changed years ago -- driven by technology that created new, more appealing consumption habits -- the broadcast TV and cable industry will experience a radical change in the next five years, where today’s revenue and distribution models will appear primitive.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
We develop a quick proof of concept to determine the functional and financial benefits and cost.

Steve Phillpott

Steve Phillpott

Title
CIO

Employer
HGST, a Western Digital company

Location
San Jose

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
The Internet of Things. In the next five years, it’s predicted that there will be more than 50 billion devices generating data, and a shortage of approximately 200,000 data scientists to analyze that data. We are actively working to increase our expertise and tools to better manage this data influx. We constantly look for and evaluate new technology in this space.

How are you using reverse-mentoring to learn from younger generations?
IT has been a leader in driving change and transformation across the organization, especially with newer, innovative technology. Our younger-generation employees are helping to enable and support the change management as we transition to new technology, such as our corporate social networking tool (Jive) in helping to enable two-way communication. These newer, more open communication forums are common with younger generations, but a little scary for some of the older generations. Our younger mentors have been great examples of change to the broader organization.

A job responsibility you’d like to eliminate:
Being responsible for audio-visual and printing services for conferences. The last thing I want to have to worry about is a burnt bulb in a conference-room projector.

Roger Pilc

Roger Pilc

Title
Executive vice president and chief innovation officer

Employer
Pitney Bowes

Location
Stamford, Conn.

Career highlight:
I spent a summer working for Softbank in Tokyo.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
The Internet of Things. We are using machine data from our SMB and enterprise customer equipment to drive better service uptime, value-add products and higher productivity for our customers.

Skills you will hire for this year:
Software as a service, big data, data science, API management, Web development, mobile. We’ll hire new employees and train existing ones; we currently have 1,100 engineers in training in these areas.

Fastest-ROI projects:
Building an on-premises Web-mapping solution within our location intelligence business, resulting in 70 new customers in less than a year, and applying location intelligence capabilities to our Hadoop platform.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
We apply Lean Canvas principles, and seek broad customer and partner feedback through our innovation lab.

Javier E. Polit

Javier E. Polit

Title
Group CIO, Bottling Investments Group and Coca-Cola North America

Employer
The Coca-Cola Co.

Location
Atlanta

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
3D printing and cognitive computing. In manufacturing, 3D printing can help repair broken production equipment, although these capabilities are in the embryonic stage. Cognitive computing could lead to a better understanding of consumer behavior and preferences that are relevant to a particular point and time and/or experience. But again, it’s very early days for these capabilities.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
The continued high cost of ERP platforms.

New titles in your IT organization:
Innovation officer

Your personal leadership style?
Direct, humble, transparent, edgy and collaborative.

Avon Singh Puri

Avon Singh Puri

Title
Vice president, IT Enterprise Applications and Platforms

Employer
VMware

Location
Palo Alto, Calif.

Career highlight:
My first website project as a development manager ran into significant issues at launch. We had to take it down for three days to fix the performance problems. This experience taught me the importance of QA for IT and helped to form the approach that I take to all the projects that I have planned and delivered in my career.

Emerging technologies that have captured your interest:
Microservices and containers. The combination of these technologies will change the way we develop software today. The ability to develop on and move segments of code from one environment to another will provide the true agility we have been looking for as an IT industry for quite a while. We are aggressively pursuing containerization.

Coolest project:
Mobile first. Whenever possible, we are building mobile-only applications, especially for notification-type applications. Examples include a universal approvals inbox for managers, deal and commissions monitoring for sales, and a contact information app for Apple Watch.

Skills you will hire for this year:
As we move to SAP from the Oracle E-business Suite, we are retraining our current Oracle staff on the SAP stack. For new skills, we are hiring mobile and Hadoop developers.

Paul S. Raines

Paul S. Raines

Title
Chief information security officer

Employer
United Nations Development Programme

Location
New York

Career highlight:
Winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 along with my co-workers at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
Drones. We are exploring new ways of using drones to support disaster relief efforts in developing nations.

Coolest project:
Offering cybersecurity assistance to developing nations.

A recent innovative staff idea:
Installing a cloud security gateway to unify the security policy across multiple cloud solutions.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Security patching will be automated and done by security botnets on the network.

A job responsibility you’d like to eliminate:
Audit follow-up. We follow international best practices and are already certified to this standard.

Skills you will hire for this year:
Information and communications technology (ICT) security consulting, especially with developing nations.

How do you find time to innovate?
I think when I wake up in the middle of the night.

Read Raines’ full profile.

Ravi Ramakrishnan

Ravi Ramakrishnan

Title
CIO and global head of IT

Employer
Uflex Ltd.

Location
Noida, India

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
IT will move from being a separate department of core technocrats to data analysts driven by the Internet of Things and big data. And there will be no keyboards.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
Windows Mobile and Firefox OS have been nonstarters.

New titles in your IT organization:
An innovation strategist who searches the Internet and journals for the latest advancements in IoT, mobility, wearables and voice portal technology.

A job responsibility you’d like to eliminate:
Frequent travel. I feel telepresence offers the same advantages at a lower cost, saving time and energy as well.

What’s the most important task you’ve delegated?
I’ve assigned commercial negotiations for all projects less than $200,000 to my next regional manager across countries.

How do you find time to innovate?
I spend at least four hours per week in a lab watching tech innovative videos, and reading and writing research papers for journals.

Title you aspire to:
CEO

Balaji Rangaswamy

Balaji Rangaswamy

Title
CIO

Employer
Ricoh Americas Corp.

Location
Malvern, Pa.

New titles in your IT organization:
Scrum masters, those who specialize in agile software and product development are joining our team to help innovate how we support our employees. We are creating these positions to help our team better help our sales force. With the iterative approach that agile inherently brings, we are able to deliver incremental enhancements in a shorter time frame to help better serve customers.

Fastest-ROI project:
The Mobile D&A Fleet Management initiative has enabled us to improve fleet utilization, collect Department of Transportation metrics and obtain proof of delivery instantaneously. This initiative, achieved through the deployment of a smartphone app, creates more flexibility to manage the delivery process and has improved the timely transmission of customer delivery and acceptance signatures.

How do you find time to innovate?
I find initiatives that spark my interest. Predictive analytics is one of them. I collaborated with sales in influencing investment in this area. Along with sales and marketing, we are in the midst of deploying actions to drive additional revenue based on the analytics output. It has given me the time to innovate and the opportunity to deploy an offering that I’m passionate about.

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