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5/2/2012
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CIO Profiles: Kevin Zaffaroni Of Acxiom

This tech chief learned the hard way never to hand over the “keys of the kingdom” to a software vendor.

Career Track



Kevin Zaffaroni Sr. VP of IT, Acxiom

Kevin Zaffaroni
Sr. VP of IT, Acxiom

How long at Acxiom: Fifteen years at this marketing technology and services company.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Spending 2-1/2 years integrating three businesses across seven countries. It was a life-changing experience--professionally and personally. Learning the cultures, customs, and business rules in each country was incredible. You realize that what works in the U.S. might not work elsewhere.

Most important career influencer: My first manager when I was a line manager for IBM in Austin, Texas. He taught me the IT business, leadership fundamentals, and personal life lessons I still use today, almost 30 years later. He always stressed the importance of consistent, regular communication and how associates count on it. He's why I still hold Monday morning meetings every week.

Decision I wish I could do over: Turning all the keys of the kingdom over to one software vendor with the promise of integration that simply never occurred. As a result, I'm much more cautious now.

On The Job


IT budget: $338 million

Size of IT team: 1,200

Top initiatives:

  • The Enterprise Data Management Platform. Acxiom's brand has always been about big data, but with the evolution of social media, the new challenge is to derive insight from the massive amount of unstructured data that's created every minute, which EDMP addresses.
  • This year will see significant changes in our internal financial reporting structure. We want to look at the business in new ways, and we anticipate using new tools.

Vision


One thing I'm looking to do better: Better management tracking and control of all our assets--people, processes, and technologies. With over 22,000 servers and 1,200 people, that's a lot to keep track of!

Lesson learned from the recession: Value every client, but make sure you protect your own interests.

What the federal government's top technology priority should be: Automating every consumer touch point. There are some wonderful examples that have improved user experiences and reduced costs. From driver's license renewal to electronic submission of tax information to payment of property taxes, technology solutions exist to modernize processes, reduce costs, and improve accuracy.

Kids and tech careers: I'd definitely encourage kids to pursue a technology career. Everything happens through technology.

Personal


Degrees: Penn State University, BS in biology--I know that's a strange major, but the scientific process has been helpful over the years

Favorite sports: College football and golf

Tech vendor CEO I respect the most: Ginni Rometty of IBM--good business sense, but with a personal touch

Smartphone of choice: BlackBerry

PC of choice: Dell

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a caddy--just think of the interesting people I could meet!

Ranked No. 60 in the 2011 InformationWeek 500

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