Terri Bettinger Discusses the Changing Expectations of CIOs in an Industry of Increasing Complexity and Pace of Innovation

Terri Bettinger - Central Ohio Tech Power Player Honoree

Terri Bettinger

Independent Virtual CIO

Columbus, Ohio



Gaby Batshoun


Global Business Solutions


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Independent CIO, Terri Bettinger, discusses the changing expectations of CIOs in an industry of increasing complexity and pace of innovation. 


Hello, and welcome to the comSpark podcast, where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders. To learn more, visit comspark.tech


GB: Hello. We’re here today with Terri Bettinger, who is an independent virtual CIO working with a lot of nonprofit organizations. My name is Gaby Batshoun. I’m with Global Business Solutions. We’re an IT company based in Newport, Kentucky. I will be your moderator today. Let's get started. You’ve been doing technology for a long time. How has your role as CIO changed in general, and do you mind explaining?


TB: Sure. So, I have been in technology almost 30 years. Certainly, the world is a different place than it was 30 years ago, a different place than it was three, four, and five years ago. I think there are some things that are just the same, right? The expectations of service, responsiveness, service reliability – some of those things are just inherent to being a service provider. But I think especially at the CIO level, there's been significant changes in the expectations of the CIO. I think first of all, the pace of technology is just exponential, right? The pace of connectivity, the pace of data growth, the pace of innovation – so pace, compared to even five years ago. And I would project that's really only going to continue. I think the complexity is certainly different compared to maybe 10 or more years ago. I think 10 or more years ago your CIO was generally, probably the best network engineer that you had.

Now, when you think about technology, particularly within large corporations, the complexity is just astounding, right? Many layers of that architecture, and the CIO has to be able to really speak to all of it. I think that technical acuity is more complex. But I also think some of the bigger changes in expectations is in the CIO's ability to engage with the business, to understand the business acumen, right? The expectation of the CIO is understanding revenue streams and profit drivers and workforce trends, and really, to be able to engage equally with the business in business strategy and planning. I think that’s really a second key thing. Strategy. CIOs are actively involved in strategic planning, I think, more so than ever – which is a bit of a different skillset than tactically running a service response organization. And then, I think lastly, and most importantly, is the interpersonal effectiveness. I think CIOs now have a much higher demand or expectation for their ability to both, written and verbally, articulate the value, align it to the business value. And so that interpersonal effectiveness, I think, continues to grow, as far as the CIO role.


GB: Awesome. We were talking earlier, and you mentioned that you've been in this area for a long time. So, how do you like working in the Central Ohio area, and what are your biggest challenges in this area?


TB: I love it. I love what I do. I love where I do it. I was in banking and financial services technology for 20-some years, and had teams all over the globe, and traveled profusely, and everywhere I traveled I realized how much I bragged about Central Ohio. And of course, then, it was, “OK, then why aren't you there?” So, I certainly redirected myself to be here more, to be an active part of the community, to help grow the community. I love it. I think geographically there's so much to offer. The business conditions are ideal. But I think more it's the people. It’s the people and the culture that the people really demand of each other. It is a very generous community. It is a community-focused community. There's great focus and celebration on raising the capabilities of the whole community, celebrating the successes of others. So much collaboration here. Now, there's some competition, right? We have some pretty intense people. We have very committed learners, right? High education. But more than that is just a continuous intellectual curiosity in this tech community. And it's really unlike many of the places I've traveled in the world and certainly, domestically. It is a very unique and supportive culture that I've not seen anywhere else. So, I love it.


GB: I would agree with you. I like this area as well. More on the technology side – in your opinion, what is one of the most exciting disruptive technologies that has been an impact on our work and our lives?


TB:  Well, Gaby, just in our 10-minute introduction, you know, I have trouble with identifying any one thing, so I'll have to a package a lot into this one thing. You know, I think if I had to categorize one thing, it really is artificial intelligence, right? Machine learning. I’ll package those together, and I know there are a lot of data scientists who would probably pick this apart. But I think that we, as a culture, are continuously expecting just a seamless integration of apps and solutions and physical and content in real time. And I think that the way that we're going to meet that demand for real time access to anything in the world, in any language…the expectations of everybody is, you know, so broad of a spectrum. But it's going to require artificial intelligence, machine learning. And I think packaged with that is, really, augmented analytics, right? A lot of what we're doing today produces massive amounts of data. We have sensors on everything. So, what are we using that for?

You know, there was a Forbes article not that long ago – I talked about it at a cybersecurity conference – their estimate is that .05 percent of the data that's actually produced is actually used, right? And so, I say, again, if we're not using everything we have available to us today, and we're only producing exponentially more, we need help to fully leverage that data. And I think that's going to take, again, machine learning, artificial intelligence, to be able to use that data. Now, I'll also package that with a concern, or a downside, that I think data ethics, data governance, probably needs to be a real big part of that conversation. There's always, from an innovation perspective, what can we do? Then, what should we do? What should we use that data for? Are we crossing any lines of personal bounds? And so, I think with all of that, there has to be a focus on that governance and ethics.


GB: Yes, I agree. I think, you know, governance ethics is huge as we progress into machine learning and AI, and we need to have more conscientious people who are working on that in the technology field.


TB: And you know, it begs the question – most of the citizenry may not have the same awareness of their digital footprint that many technologists do. And sometimes when they find out that a social media, you know, actually use their data for something other than that they may feel offended. We're taking that to a whole new place. And I think that transparency, particularly when I say governance with decision making --  as a consumer, as a constituent – I would want to know where a machine is making a decision…


GB: And how it is making the decision…


TB: …and how it is making that decision, versus where I may think a person is making that decision. And so, I do think that transparency to the users is going to be tremendously important.


GB: I agree. So, with all that we've talked about, there comes security and how we keep all the information secure. And where do we go from here, with all these hacks and all of these critical data breaches and all this stuff that's happening?  How do we go from here and how do we keep all this information secure?


TB: Do you want my real answer? So, I am a huge believer that unconditional security of everything is not feasible. It's not possible. If it were possible, it wouldn't be cost feasible. It’s just not. And so, I'm a huge proponent of designing security practices for the “when” not “if,” especially knowing that, kind of back to pace – the pace of connectivity. How many devices do we think are connected to the internet today? Probably 10 million more than the day before, and it'll be 10 million more tomorrow. So, again, to think your security practices can adapt to that pace, right? Probably a little aspirational. So, the pace. Also, we know users are our biggest risk point, right? The FBI and many others have produced a lot of studies that show many of the biggest security breaches is somebody clicked on something. No matter how much training and education and awareness, it is a human endeavor. Somebody is going to click. So, it's about being ready – ready to respond, particularly with user-based endpoints. I think the traditional “defend the fort,” right? “Protect the networks.” Certainly, there's still network protection that needs to happen, but I think as we have so much mobility in our technology, we really have to adapt our security practices to “when” and to that user mobility, right? It will happen. And that's okay. And it's about our readiness to respond. And so, I think there's some adaptation that has to happen and some expectations. I do think there are basics.

So, it's funny, you know, as I work now – I've gone from global investment banking – which has a whole discipline and governance and regulatory requirements to going to several nonprofits. Now, these are nonprofits that also have HIPAA and FERPA requirements, and PCI, and maybe just not in that same awareness. So, when you look at the basics that any organization can take, and any person, even in your own home network and your own devices, right? Keeping them current -- current software, current hardware. Many of those vendors are very good at staying on top of security risks and vulnerabilities. So, keep your devices current. Use the basic protections, password protection, pin protection, right? I think some of those basics some people dismiss as intrusive, unnecessary, it puts a burden on them. But those can often be the difference between breach or no breach. So, that's boiling a very large topic of cybersecurity down to some simple bullet points.


GB: Thank you for your time today. My name is Gaby Batshoun.  I'm interviewing Terri Bettinger, and to learn more about us, please visit comspark.tech. Goodbye, until next time. Thank you.


To learn more about sponsorship opportunities for 2019, contact Michelle Ziegler at michelle.ziegler@venuemag.net