7 Bold Tech Ideas That Will Make You Uncomfortable - InformationWeek

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5/26/2015
04:36 PM
Chris Murphy
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7 Bold Tech Ideas That Will Make You Uncomfortable

Elite tech leaders pushed the boundaries at the InformationWeek Conference. At least one of these ideas should make you squirm and think, "We need to do that."
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Wal-mart's Karenann Terrell (right), with InformationWeek's Stephanie Stahl.
(Image: InformationWeek)

Wal-mart's Karenann Terrell (right), with InformationWeek's Stephanie Stahl.

(Image: InformationWeek)

Is your IT shop really, really good at recovering from your mistakes? Is recovering from mistakes even something you talk about, let alone measure?

Wal-mart Stores CIO Karenann Terrell considers recovery to be a critical skill, and her team counts "mean time to recovery" among its performance metrics. Unless the Wal-mart team is confident in their ability to recover, they'll never perform well on another vital factor: Speed.

"What happens when you're not focused on speed is that you're measuring twice or three times or even four times before you cut," Terrell said during a panel session at the InformationWeek Conference last month. "I believe that the right thing for Wal-mart, and the way we look at it, is being absolutely expert at recovery and speed. That allows you to take a lot more risk."

Rapid recovery, risk taking, speeding up IT and business processes, and using technology to improve all corners of the enterprise were among the ideas put forth by tech leaders during the conference.

For Wal-mart, the focus on rapid recovery applies even to customer-facing production systems. Wal-mart has hundreds of thousands of point-of-sale (POS) terminals, for example. If IT had to get every change perfect before rolling it out, Wal-mart could do one or maybe two POS updates a year. Instead, the store environment needs a constant push of innovation. "Thinking through the process of change, and speed, and speed to recover, I think are unbelievably important concepts for technology leadership," Terrell said.

Terrell acknowledged that she was "looking at a lot of skeptical faces" in the audience as she described the importance of recovery. But challenging ideas were the norm from the elite technology leaders who spoke at the InformationWeek Conference. These leaders dared their peers to think differently.

On the following pages, you'll see six more examples of the many ideas from IT leaders at the InformationWeek Conference that will challenge your perceptions of what IT can do.

[Did you miss any of the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas last month? Don't worry: We have you covered. Check out what our speakers had to say and see tweets from the show. Let's keep the conversation going.]

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/27/2015 | 3:22:57 PM
Mean time to recovery -- a brave, new metric
I remember thinking with Karenann Terrell said this that "mean time to  recovery" is a great metric for IT shops to adopt. Instead of presenting the IT mask of infallibility, it suggests bad code will occur even with the most careful forethought and preparation. Getting hobbled by the possibility of failure is not the right idea. Getting practiced and fast at recovery will embolden a team to try more things and respond to business needs more frequently.
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