Beeline Customer Conference Dispatch: Getting Into the Mind of the CIO

At Beeline’s customer conference yesterday, Bob Marsh, the company’s CIO, presented a short but captivating talk on getting into the minds of CIOs. This is a topic of critical importance for procurement. As user interfaces evolve, as mobile goes mainstream, and as best-of-breed application usage proliferates (including apps that users can download directly), the role of IT is changing dramatically inside companies. And procurement has an opportunity to partner with IT rather than just select and use SaaS applications that skirt outside its purview.

Bob began his talk by noting that one of the keys for IT leadership today is finding a balance between information security and the business. And IT must do this in a world of emerging and greater pressures and requirements including information security, business innovation, speed and adaptability, transparency and audibility. Bob also framed his discussion by noting that we are now living in a world “beyond the desktop” in which “the browser is the most prominent component of application delivery.”

Building for form factors is now key. As Bob observes, “all major software companies have started to incorporate and migrate to HTML 5. [This] can help accommodate all devices with a [single build and drive] … a responsive user interface.” But still, the challenge remains “providing a consistent experience across all browsers and platforms” which will include new tools in the future such as smart TVs, wearables, and of course, existing mobile platforms.

More and more, employees are the ones deciding what applications they want to use – not IT. As Bob said, it’s “almost too easy for a user to find an application or service that solves a personal challenge.” But they often do this “at the cost a company’s information security.” Bob suggest that extending “IT and information security” to all of the productivity tools, enterprise applications, apps and devices that an employee might use has completely changed the IT management game – and added in many layers of new complexity.

From a procurement perspective, Spend Matters would also suggest another frontier of CIO-level information security and control rests with the business networks that exist between our organizations, suppliers, customers, and partners. Whether it is insuring the integrity of PO or invoice information or providing visibility into actual payment status, the signals, collaboration, activities and status that flow between companies, suppliers and third parties (3PLs, banks, etc.) must be subject to the same policies and controls of enterprise applications themselves. And IT leadership should be comfortable with the policy of network providers for ownership of transactional data as well using aggregate or specific information to offer products and services to network members (e.g., financing).

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