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Wealth of experience

Archie Reed of HP relishes his other role - mentoring other chief technology officers.

In his role as HP’s chief technologist, Archie Reed spends a lot of his time advising and guiding CTOs of other companies on best practices. Reed says one of the most fundamental things is to understand where the market is going. “You have to understand the market, understand what the company wants and establish points of relevance,” he says, adding that it is important that the CTO realises and accepts that “you don’t always make everyone [in the company] happy”.

Reed says he understands the pressures that are put on CTOs to use money wisely while, at the same time, ensure that the company’s IT infrastructure and data are secure. “We have to take positions on the challenges that our customers have,” he adds.

Reed refers to different “chasms” that need to be crossed. In his conversations with HP customers, he says it is important for him to define what kind of technology adopter they fit into. They can be early adopters, fast followers (if they need evidence that others have done it), middle of the pack (the type who wants to see case studies) or laggers.

Reed says one of the challenges is that “the spectrum is so wide” and companies have so many options. “Anyone can go on the internet and offer services these days. There is no formal way to deal with it. You have to analyse the risks.”

Working with standards organisations is invaluable for all parties involved, he says. “It is a service to everybody and helps everyone. [Standards] need to be adopted by more people.”

When talking to other CTOs, he says he also has to figure out what they mean when they use the word “innovation”, as sometimes they might not be fully certain. The next step is to define how they “put innovation on the table” and how the CTO communicates that to the rest of the business.

According to Reed, once the dialogue about innovation starts, things become very definitive. “What is sometimes a challenge is when you question whether it should happen at all.”

As part of his job, he helps facilitate the discussions between CTO and the rest of the C-suite. “CEOs are quite often the ones who want to bring in the new technology,” he adds.

“Good things can come from that. That is going to be pervasive through the whole company.”

For Reed, “there’s no magic — it’s management”.

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