Wendy Pfeiffer, CIO at Nutanix, discusses how the responsibilities of chief information officers have shifted in recent years.
Wendy Pfeiffer has forged an illustrious career leading tech teams at well-known firms such as GoPro, Yahoo, Cisco Systems and more. She serves on the board of global non-profit Girls in Tech and was named as one of the US National Diversity Council’s Most Powerful Women in Technology in 2018.
Here, she discusses her role at enterprise cloud company Nutanix and how the role of CIO has evolved, in her view, to become more business oriented.
‘IT is changing dramatically, and today’s IT workers need more strategic thinking skills in order to achieve their desired end result’
— WENDY PFEIFFER
Tell me about your own role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy?
As CIO, I’m responsible for the global technology implementation that supports our business and employees. That includes every aspect of Nutanix’s technology, from the applications that run the entire company to the tools employees use to do their jobs.
On the other side of things, I’m also responsible for customer success especially when it comes to the product Nutanix sells to other IT departments.
Are you spearheading any major product/IT initiatives you can tell us about?
I’m focused on creating more capacity for our customers. I’d say about 70pc of our customers’ capacity — financial, mental and technological — is dedicated to maintaining the current system they have in place and making sure things don’t break.
So many of my peers who come to me are operating in keep-the-lights-on mode, and what these customers need is to free up capacity in order to start focusing on ways to move the business forward.
How big is your team? Do you outsource where possible?
When building my teams, it’s important to me to hire people that all have different skillsets – something that’s unique to them – people with diversity in experience and thought in order to bring various perspectives and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
We also put a big emphasis on career development and, for those of us who lead teams or manage people, it’s important that we encourage our team to grow, build new skills, and help them find opportunities to branch out and expand their expertise. Nutanix as a whole becomes stronger and, as a result, most of what we do can be accomplished in-house.
What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?
Nutanix recently released our Enterprise Cloud Index report where we surveyed approximately 2,650 IT decision makers to better understand their thought process when it comes to selecting and utilising cloud services. Our findings made it clear that executing an effective digital transformation strategy is a multidimensional challenge, and one cloud consumption model is not enough.
At Nutanix, we’re addressing that challenge by offering customers flexibility and freedom to run their applications on their cloud platform, hardware and hypervisor of choice. As data systems grow increasingly complex, Nutanix helps to make the infrastructure invisible so IT managers can focus on bringing more business value.
What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?
Due in part to machine learning, the role of CIOs and IT leaders is shifting to become more focused on business strategy. IT is changing dramatically, and today’s IT workers need more strategic thinking skills in order to achieve their desired end result and make a greater impact in driving customer success.
In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?
For us at Nutanix, we believe that cybersecurity and compliance need to be at the core of any strong information security management system and we do so by outlining, early on, a set of best practices for the architecture, perimeter control, access control etc. We’re not alone in this thinking.
Going back to our Enterprise Cloud Index, we see that the majority of IT leaders feel the same way, citing security as being the biggest factor impacting their future cloud strategies. And with businesses being hyper-focused on meeting security concerns and protecting consumer information, respondents selected that hybrid cloud best addresses those concerns.
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