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The humble CIO

The humble CIO

Symantec CIO David Thompson works with brilliant enginers who create great technologies and have strong opinions of how these should be deployed inside an enterprise.

Learning to be humble was an early adjustment for Symantec’s CIO David Thompson after joining the security software company. “Being a CIO in a technology company, you have to be a very humble individual because I walk the halls with some brilliant engineers. In many cases they are creating great technologies and have strong opinions of how that should be deployed inside an enterprise,” says Thompson, who was previously CIO at PeopleSoft for seven years.

Thompson adds that business leaders are very demanding of IT. “That keeps me and my team on my toes responding to customer needs. It’s exciting to be a part of that dynamic business.”

Although his background is in IT, Thompson says he brings a business focus to Symantec. He aims to help his company generate additional revenue, increase customer satisfaction and focus on employee productivity.

“I see that trend happening around the world. It’s exciting to see CIOs in New Zealand come from business units and take on responsibility for IT and leverage technology to solve business problems.”

One of the programmes he runs at Symantec is called Eat Our Own Cooking that showcases how the company is using its own technology. “One of the things we have done at Symantec is to deploy thousands of virtualised servers to help drive down business costs. We’re using our technology to manage the physical servers as well as the virtual servers. I am a showcase for our external customers as a CIO and I really try to work hard not to be a salesman. That’s the challenge of being a CIO of a technology company.”

Thompson says more of his peers are now focusing on areas such as data loss prevention. “None of us want to have a breach of data on our watch. Data loss prevention is a top priority for many of us.”

CIOs are also getting rid of functions that aren’t part of the core business, he says. “You don’t have those extra cycles to focus on infrastructure and auxiliary apps. You’re spending the majority of your time solving business problems.

“I have a peer who is moving a lot of their infrastructure to the cloud, because he wants to stay focused on the product delivery and product core. It allowed him to reduce costs.”

Thompson notes the range of trends affecting ANZ CIOs that he sees on a regular basis. “We’re seeing more cyber crime and many of my peers are in industries that are under tremendous attack. We’re also seeing a wave of virtualisation as companies and my peers are being asked to do more with less. Virtualisation is a tool to be able to do that.”

Mobile security is another key concern, he adds. “We’re seeing more and more data pushed out to the end points, so a focus around laptop security, patch management and encryption is becoming more and more of a challenge [for IT] because there are more handheld devices. This is a risk for CIOs as well. More and more CIOs are going to be interested in strategies around managing mobile security, data and data management.”

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