Open to Feedback and Ideas from Staffs And Peers

Jeff Johnson, SVP & CIO, Baxter Credit Union
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Jeff Johnson, SVP & CIO, Baxter Credit Union

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectations

BCU is a member-owned financial institution, so my answer is focused on the consumer finance space. The pace of technology change is largely driven by the ‘consumerization’ of IT, the economic recovery, and increasing competitiveness in financial services is putting tremendous pressure on IT departments. The good news is that small FI’s like ours can compete on a level-paying fieldnamely the web and mobile- against the biggest FIs who have huge tech-budgets. The challenging news is that consumers expect the same tech from the small FI’s as from the biggest FI’s. So, we need to integrate third parties faster than ever. We need to provide cool tech faster than ever, and we need to serve our members better than ever.

The areas in business environment where solutions do not exist or not up to the mark, and which if existed, would've made job easier

The innovation and creativity in tech has exploded, but we cannot have our members launching out to a dozen different places with different navigation, different interface, and different data etc.
Consumers want an easy to consume experience that differs by device, but too often our vendors consider themselves the center of the universe; when infact the consumer is the center of the universe. From an enterprise IT perspective we are seeing a huge rampup in project requests. CIO’s need to find a way to greatly improve the outputs of their departments- we need to work much smarter.

Technology trends impacting enterprise business environment

BCU has made a strategic bet that moving much of our technology infrastructure and web/ mobile banking platform to Microsoft’s Cloud will enable the organization to serve its members better, improve speed-to-market, and re-focus IT staff on improving products, services, and aid in growth opportunities.

My roles and responsibilities as CIO

A couple of thoughts as I look back over the past five years. First, Financial Services was at the center of the economic meltdown. Second, in the financial services industry technology is indispensible, so we are core to the business. While the economy was in meltdown innovation and consumer adoption of mobile was sky-rocketing; the challenge was to cut expenses deep while investing in and improve the consumer experience.

On this last point, in attract & retain talent; I have a sour taste; on the macrolevel. CIO’s have done a terrific job of making technology an attractive career for young people. We are so proud of our outsourcing, offshoring, and cost-cutting. Why would young people put tech on their short-list of careers considering our approach to people? Then we ask ourselves why we can’t find good talent. Perhaps we should take some advice from the CFO- the accounting profession has a culture, and method, and a plan to attract, retain, and develop talent.

Lessons learned as a CIO

First, like no other time in the past, technology is an extension of self, so CIO’s need to embrace that people take it personally. This leads to my second thought- humility. We need to be open to feedback and ideas from our staffs, from our peers in the C-suite, directly from
consumers, from the front- line, from anyplace the feedback originates.

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