The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds

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Brian Berning

BDO (formally SS&G)

How do you correlate business risk with IT delivery?

The biggest thing that we are finding in the services industry is the importance of mobility. With mobility there are also security concerns. We continuously work in mobile environments, so having the proper security in place is crucial. We use programs like AirWatch as a means to control that mobility and ensure we have the proper IT securities in place.

Mobility in our industry, being a CPA firm, is absolutely crucial. And security is equally important. Because our staff is effectively on call 24/7 and working remotely they need access to the systems that we deploy here. We use cloud-based systems, which make it a lot easier to see information anywhere in the world instead of having to be on-site all the time. We continue to see more development on cloud and ERP systems. But how do you secure that so the environment doesn’t disclose confidential information? The CPA industry receives access to so many confidential pieces of information. We have social security numbers and in some cases we have credit card information on file. In terms of identity fraud, having that secure environment is crucial to our long-term success.

When is business and technology incompatible?

No matter what piece of technology we are using, in the service industry we cannot afford to break down human interaction. You still have to create some level of visibility, otherwise the relationship becomes very transactional. It’s easy to hide behind technology. It breaks down the human connection. You have to know when to use it appropriately so that you are not overusing it. People will hide behind technology for conflict resolution purposes because they don’t want to address it personally. So, what do they do? They address it via email – but is that really the most effective means of communication?

Humans still have a need for human contact. That is the impasse technology can create if it is not managed correctly. It’s easy to get comfortable sitting behind a desk and responding. We have an instant message (IM) system, and someone will want to IM me from the office next door. It’s kind of silly to have an IM conversation when you are right next to each other. That’s what I mean by the abuse of that technology. I try to make sure we are balancing the use of that technology to do what we do efficiently without severely compromising our need for human touch.

Let’s leverage technology to enhance human connectivity, not replace it. Human connection is still as important today as it was 50 years ago. So how does technology compliment that? It can never replace it – and it should never replace it. It should complement and make it easier for us to connect with each other.

How do you lead your organization away from a transactional mindset to keep that human connection?

You cannot build long lasting meaningful relationships if there is no trust. If the relationship is strictly transactional we will not be able to compete in the marketplace. Thus, we have to train people on the importance of visibility. It is difficult to create high level client acceptance without consistent, intentional visibility. In order to achieve this high level of acceptance you certainly cannot hide behind computer screens. We enforce the issue: Go meet with this client, get on a plane, get in a car or pick up the phone. In addition, leveraging meaningful relationships with a high level of trust and acceptance will create brand loyalty. Long-term success depends on relationships built on trust. 


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The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds

3 of 27

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