Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Fidelity's top IT exec sees potential in A.I.

Mary K. Pratt | Nov. 26, 2014
Stephen Neff has his eye on a host of emerging technologies and says artificial intelligence is especially promising.

And we're interested in how gamification impacts [the financial services] industry because much of what our customers are asking for is more education.

We're also looking at form factors -- wearables. Whether you'll see someone with Google Glass trading [stocks] out of their eyeballs, I'm not sure. But there are applications that could be helpful with some form of a wearable.

The other one is more investment in various techniques for DevOps, so we can get our capabilities to production and out to our customers quicker and more frequently.

How do you ensure continuity across such a large operation? Where much of the technology organization is in the different businesses, it tends to minimize rogue groups popping up.

We have a technology architecture council, so the lead technologist in each of the businesses participates in a group that defines the cross-company platform. While they don't always agree on everything, that's the primary way we drive those decisions.

And the CIOs and I meet weekly, and we do off-site meetings every quarter. So if there is something that's of critical nature, we can get it right on behalf of everyone. We'll take it on as a group.

What makes that approach work? Communication. And maybe we're a little different here. We're a privately held company, so investment decisions can be made for the longer term. There may be less short-term pressure for financial results. This isn't a very hierarchical company. It's not uncommon for people to talk to individuals, and try to solicit agreements and influence decisions. If we have to do something by dictate, we will do it. But it's more often that we do it collaboratively.

How do you adapt to the tech needs and preferences of younger professionals?We ask them everything: How do they use technology? What do they prefer? How do they like their collaboration space? What's their work style? There's a significant input for us, not only in how we design for our customers, but also how we define our workspace.

We also have reverse-mentoring: Each of the CIOs and myself [is mentored by] someone who has been out of school for less than two years, to get closer to how they think and use technology.

Have you learned anything that surprised you? The ease this generation has with technology -- and with changing technology. They're very comfortable with going along with whatever helps them be more productive. They're a mobile lot. They're multitasking. They don't look at barriers and organizational lines. They don't say, "I shouldn't talk to so-and-so because they're not in my silo." And they don't talk on the phone. Everything is either in person or via tech.


Previous Page  1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.