Vivek Kundra was a CIO at city, county, and state levels before becoming the very first federal CIO under President Obama at the age of 34. Four years later, he is the executive vice president of emerging markets at salesforce.com. Peter High has interviewed Kundra about his career for Forbes in an effort to provide an expanding perspective on what it means to be a CIO in this constantly changing landscape.
Kundra says that throughout his time in government, putting the citizen first was always the principle that drove everything else. As federal CIO, he wanted to simplify government service access and reduce spending. Seeing that both the technology and the practices in place upon entry were pretty antiquated, Kundra led a shift toward modern techniques and better transparency, including things such as the Data.gov platform, which provides the public with access to raw executive branch data. The ability to effect such change is necessary for emerging CIOs, as Kundra relates:
The CIO role is not going to be the same as it was in past decades. It used to be about building and managing infrastructure, refreshing hardware and software; building first and buying second. Now, there is a Darwinian pressure coming from customers for the CIO to evolve. So many trends that are impacting business today, from mobile and social to big data, have IT at heart. Talented CIOs realize that this offers a great opportunity to develop perspectives and strategies that will help unleash each of these trends to the company’s great advantage. This also makes the CIO more of a potential driver of top and bottom line growth.
He says that “none of us should rest on our laurels” since there are so many organizations still innovating in their respective fields in such varied ways. We should inspire each other to greatness, always keeping sight of better ways to provide customer convenience, whether they are clients or United States citizens.