Perdikoun sees her role as being closely aligned to the business' needs,
and helping Juniper define and reach future growth and service delivery goals.
She believes the CIO's task is to help deliver essential business information
to employees on their devices of choice-empowering them to take important
decisions-while working closely with business heads to hit annual and
quarterly objectives using a clearly defined set of metrics. Excerpts of an
interview with her.
How has the role of CIO within a company evolved in the recent years
especially in view of the growing role of Internet? What are the things that a
CIO is expected to do?
Today, the CIO has become more of a business leader. More and more CIOs are
being promoted to become COOs and a lot of them are being actively recruited to
sit on boards. The reason is that CIOs are increasingly seen as strategic
business leaders who have a lot of insights into how their companies operate.
Most people in management focus on specific areas of the business, such as
marketing, sales, or engineering. Whereas, in order to deliver effective IT
solutions, the CIO has to deal with all areas of the business. The past 18
months-with the US government's Sarbanes Oxley Act specifically and
compliance in general-have een a lot more company boards recruit CIOs. It's
a comment on how important technology has become to the business.
Today, what kind of role does a CIO play as a business leader?
The number of CIOs who report to a CEO has increased quite dramatically in
the recent years. I would say that around 45 percent of CIOs now report to their
CEO. That's partly to do with the uniqueness of the role-who else on the
management has more visibility across the entire business?
It's important to remember what CIO stands for: chief information officer.
It's not about technology per se. The role of a CIO is to deliver the specific
information that the business needs-in order to operate smoothly-and deliver
that information, however the business may need it. But it also goes further
than that: a really good CIO turns that information into intelligence. This is
where you can start to predict future behavior rather than just react to it. I
came from the publishing industry, where predicting customer and market behavior
was a prerequisite.
CIOs should play a major role in helping companies to identify and track the
key performance indicators that measure whether or not the business is achieving
its strategic goals. The CIO's strategy and goals should be the company's
strategy and goals, and vice versa.
What are the major issues or challenges that a CIO faces today?
Understanding and securing returns on investment is a major challenge. But
it's not so much about the numbers and how much you spend, as it is about the
value that you receive from a specific IT solution. Another way we do this is by
what I like to call 'spring cleaning', although we don't do it just in the
spring! Most people implement systems and can never work out if they are a
success or not. We make it a point to look at the usage and success of every
application each year. And if they are not delivering value to the business, we
switch them off.
Budget flexibility is a perennial challenge. Running the costs in line with
business is not useful. You need to build flexibility into the budget and you
have to add value for the spending you are doing.
The last challenge is responding to change. Because companies change so
rapidly, their goals also change regularly and CIOs must manage that change. You
can't afford to slow the business down. You need to deliver services on demand
and manage capacity dynamically. That's one of the reasons why Juniper
conducts its entire business over the public network.
Communication and networking technologies are changing very fast. What is
the best strategy an enterprise can deploy to cope with that?
Understand the business needs and have business and IT work together as a
team and the meet vendors. I can't stress enough how important it is to make
the decisions a joint affair between business and IT. I spend all day, every day
in business meetings in order to ensure that decisions about technology meet our
In the past couple of years, use of wireless has grown rapidly. What kind
of issues and challenges have come up because of that, especially in terms of
network security and network management?
Security of mobile devices-where not just the person must be authenticated
but also the device itself-is one area everybody knows must be addressed. We
also need intelligence built into the network. There should be intelligence from
end-to-end-from one device right through the network to the other device-to
ensure that the person is getting the right level of access and the right type
of service. Juniper calls this secure and assured networking.
Getting the best value from a communications service provider is often a
challenge. What should a CIO keep in mind while dealing with a service provider?
What do you think are the key elements of a good SLA?
First, it depends on the services you are receiving: if it's voice, then
there's a given level of service; if it's security, your service provider
should guarantee to find a certain percentage of viruses or restrict denial of
service attacks. However, you need to look beyond the penalties in a service
level agreement to what the supplier is willing to put on the table. The key to
understanding SLAs is to know whether the penalties a provider offers are
actually things they can realistically control, instead of a set of standard
metrics provided by an account team. As the world evolves and things like VoIP
come in, it will become even more important to know what penalties a provider is
willing to offer and how they track the levels of service.
Which are the emerging communication/networking technologies that an
enterprise must keep tabs on?
Wireless and the ability to take your life and business mobile are going to
fundamentally change the rules. By wireless and mobile, I don't just mean
voice. I mean: imagine if everything you do today could be accessed through any
mobile device. We are already starting to see this happen. And many parts of the
world, which have less legacy infrastructure to contend with, are way ahead of
the US in this regard. This is particularly true of India, I believe.
In the United States, many consumers no longer have wireline phones at home.
Ford Motor Company recently announced a deal with Sprint to remove its wireline
phones for 8,000 people and replace them with mobile handsets. That's a
fundamental change-and it's just the tip of the iceberg.