CIO Profiles: Karl Salnoske Of GXS

Intuition isn't all that counts when assessing client projects, Salnoske says.

Career Track

Karl Salnoske Executive VP of Service Delivery & CIO, GXS

Karl Salnoske
Executive VP of Service Delivery & CIO, GXS
How long at current company: I joined GXS, a business-to-business data integration and e-commerce company, in early 2010.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: At IBM in 1994-'95, we deployed the software that ran online ticket sales for the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. I led a team that developed and launched IBM's e-commerce software suite, WebSphere Commerce.

Most important career influencer: The people I worked with at McKinsey during 1990-'94. They helped me transition from a techie to being more well rounded. After one of my first meetings with a group of key client executives, a McKinsey partner asked me what I thought. I outlined what I thought the best technical solution was. He asked how I knew that was the right answer. The best I could come up with was, it was intuition from my years of previous experience with similar situations. He explained that without thoroughly understanding the client's business and analyzing the data around the various options, intuition could easily lead to the wrong answer.

On The Job

Top initiatives:

  • Data center move: We're moving to a "dual/dual" data center strategy, with two data centers in both North America and Europe to support our disaster recovery goals and customer service levels.
  • Siebel deployment: We're rolling out some new internal capabilities.
  • Continuous availability: We're replatforming our core integration services onto a new hardware architecture to drive improvements in performance and availability.


The next big thing for my industry will be ... cloud-based integration across multiple business processes. For many customers, the meaning of "integration" is changing. Many want to integrate broader business processes and transaction types with their customers, suppliers, banks, and third-party logistics providers.

One thing I'm looking to change: We're continually looking to improve our change management process, reducing the percentage of failed changes that get rolled out. We process more than 50,000 changes in our network each year. Even a 1% error rate means we could introduce 500 failures into the network, which is unacceptable. Our goal is zero defects.


Leisure activities: I race my Porsche for fun sometimes and watch the Formula 1 circuit

Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: Virgin's Richard Branson

Tech vendor CEO I respect the most: Lou Gerstner, for managing the IBM turnaround

If I weren't a CIO, I'd ... consider being a small-business owner--maybe woodworking (cabinets) or plumbing

Ranked No. 75 in the 2010 InformationWeek 500

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