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CIOs can be catalysts for change in the postdigital enterprise

Thor Olavsrud | March 15, 2013
For CIOs, it is the best of times and the worst of times. Five macro forces--analytics, mobile, social, cloud and cyber--are disrupting the nature of IT and carrying businesses into the postdigital era.

At the same time, CIOs can't ignore vendor management. Managing contracts, licenses, subscriptions, service levels, updates, patches and release schedules will be a priority.

Port of Long Beach Leverages All Five Forces

Doug Albrecht, director of Information Management for the Port of Long Beach, has had to take all this and more into account. The port is well along in taking advantage of analytics, mobile, social, cloud and cyber.

On the mobile front, it's still building out its smartphone and tablet apps, though it plans to eventually enable everyone, from executives to engineers at job sites, to access the port's systems anywhere at any time. It has already extensively deployed mobile sensors and machine-to-machine technologies, from seismologic sensors for detecting earthquakes and other potential sources of infrastructure damage to RFID tags to control truck access to terminals and sewer and storm water control sensors to measure performance and environment impact and monitor security.

It has also integrated that sensor data into analytics packages with operational dashboards that can track ship entry and exit from the harbor, all tied into its billing system. Among other uses, it leverages these analytics for an incentive program that automatically provides incentive discounts to ships that manage their speed nearing the port.

The Port of Long Beach has deployed private cloud for the purposes of business continuity, resilience and ease of maintenance. Albrecht also notes that the port will eventually move to public cloud.

"I would rather have my team worry about port business than memory needed in a new server," he says.

The port is only just beginning to experiment with social media for external marketing, but Albrecht says that it has deployed a sophisticated project management system internally that creates a central source of information for large capital projects. Albrecht's team has also implemented unified communications and soon plans to tie it all to mobile.

Finally, cyber security is a big focus. Albrecht notes that the port is part of the U.S. Coast Guard's cyber command center and has implemented a hardened outer shell and deployed multiple in-depth tools and techniques. Albrecht's team has also focused on employee training with regard to security.

"I have three pieces of advice for CIOs," Albrecht says:

"First, know what team you're on. I've come to realize that my team at the port includes both IT and the directors running other parts of the business. To do my job, I should understand what they're doing and communicate with them clearly. We invite port directors to our IT staff meetings to get to know them and learn how to better support their needs, and build a foundation of trust. Second, develop your people. Teach them leadership, communications and how the business works. Third, trust your staff to do the work they're supposed to do. That will open up time for you to get out and see what else is going on. Being well-read is important but not sufficient. It's essential to meet and interact with other IT executives--to bring back ideas that will continue to make postdigital forces more valuable to your business."

 

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