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How one CIO navigated the path from sales to IT leader

Brian Watson | July 29, 2016
Anthem CIO Tom Miller says authenticity and his non-IT background make him a more effective CIO.

The second pillar centers on delivering capabilities Anthem needs to facilitate growth and meeting the needs of both consumers and healthcare providers. There are three key areas of focus here: customer centricity, collaboration with healthcare providers, and lowering or optimizing the costs of care for consumers.

The third pillar is all about innovation. Miller and his team are focused on determining how and where to leverage emerging technologies that help to deliver on the aforementioned capabilities. Anthem recently opened an Innovation Studio in Atlanta that will serve as the center for ideation and experimentation of new tools and capabilities.

Through it all, Miller emphasizes the need to deliver value. As he sees it, IT’s value has shifted from computing power, transactions processing and workflow enablement to speed, agility, flexibility and velocity. As a result, Miller pushes his team to “pick up the pace and be innovative across the entire landscape.”

Using challenges as learning experiences

Of course, his tenure has not been free of challenges. In February 2015, Anthem reported a breach of a network server that exposed personal information of more than 78 million current and former employees and members of its healthcare plans. Despite the scale of the attack, Anthem’s quick reaction was lauded by security experts and analysts, the White House and the FBI, which, through a spokesman, called Anthem’s response “a model for other companies and organizations facing similar circumstances.”

While he could not speak about many specifics of the breach, Miller says he and his organization learned valuable lessons through the experience. “We learned that time was of the essence, and that we need to do everything we could, as quickly as possible, to protect consumers and our customers,” he says. “With that as our guide, we acted swiftly and resolutely in the hours, days and weeks following the incident.”

And another challenge looms: Anthem’s proposed $48 billion acquisition of rival Cigna — which, as a combined entity, could be one of the 20 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. — is currently under regulatory review.

Demonstrating authenticity

Through the ups and downs, though, authenticity is probably strongest tool in Miller’s belt.

In outlining the key traits of authentic leaders, Bill George, the former Medtronic CEO and author of several notable books including True North, listed, among others, practicing solid values; demonstrating self-discipline; and pursuing their purpose with passion.

Born and raised in Michigan, Miller grew up with a set of values and a work ethic that he assumed was normal. One could stereotype Miller as being your usual Midwesterner, but there’s more to it. Throughout his career, Miller has worked with colleagues from almost all 50 states, and others from about 50 different countries. But he doesn’t judge them or compare himself or his background to their. Instead, he has tried to learn from them and understand the differences in order to learn more about himself.

 

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