CIO Profiles: Lorraine Cichowski Of The Associated Press
Tablet computers and mobile devices are "the new printing presses," says AP's tech chief.
Lorraine Cichowski Senior VP and CIO, The Associated Press
How long at current company: Six years
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Transforming the reputation of AP's IT department over four years from one that was unresponsive, disengaged, stuck in silos, slow to deliver on projects, and out of touch with industry and technical trends to one that is engaged, proactive, efficient, forward reaching, innovative, collaborative, focused on partnerships with business colleagues, and invested in the success of the company. It was a bumpy journey and required changes in most of the IT leadership team over the past four years, but we find ourselves in a good place.
Most important career influencer: A now-retired executive editor at USA Today who convinced me, while I was a deputy managing editor at the newspaper, to attend law school at night. Although I decided not to practice law after I completed my degree, law school changed the course of my career, opening doors that led to jobs in product and business development, executive management, and technology innovation, including the planning and launch of USA Today's Web site in the early days of the Web.
On The Job
IT budget: $125 million
Size of IT team: 500 globally
Completing the first phase of development and launching a new Web-based service called the AP News Registry, which uses a microformat and a usage tag to collect data on how consumers use AP and other news content on the Web.
Starting the global rollout to AP's 2,500 journalists of our first new editorial system in 20 years. The multimedia system is an elegant product built on Microsoft SharePoint 2010, integrated with a customized version of Word, Office Communicator, and Outlook.
Transitioning AP's domestic newspaper customers off legacy satellite delivery of text and photos to Web-based distribution and starting the transition of global newspapers and broadcasters off satellite.
Advice for future CIOs: When developing your priority list, give a No. 1 ranking to "understanding the business and business expectations." Internal and external customers focus on the results, not the elegance of the solution or the process for delivering it.
The next big thing for my industry will be ... tablet computers, like the iPad, and all things mobile. They're the new printing presses and newsprint and TV screens for the media industry.
Best way to cope with the economic downturn: If we're to believe the reports, the downturn is over, and we're seeing the first signs of economic improvement. Which is good news and--for an IT department--bad news. A downturn is a great time to pick up some top-notch talent that finds itself out of work. Now that the economy is improving, so too is recruiting, and the stable staff of the recession is turning into a fond memory.
Colleges/degrees: Seton Hall University, BA in English; American University, MA in public affairs journalism; George Mason University, JD and course work toward PhD in public policy
Leisure activity: Gardening; it plays havoc on manicures, but it's good for the soul
Best books read recently: Stieg Larson's Millennium trilogy; I haven't come across such innovative fiction in a long time
If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... back at work on a deferred PhD in public policy, probably with an emphasis on privacy law and policy
The Business of Going DigitalDigital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.