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What’s Your CIO Legacy?

According to Interop keynote speaker CIO Ben Haines, the legacy of the CIO is based on the actions of his or her predecessors. Having first worked for the beer brewer Pabst and then a digital file sharing company Box, Haines brings a unique perspective to the nature of the CIO position in an interview conducted by Andrew Murray for InformationWeek.

Improving on the Pabst

At Pabst, Haines inherited a traditional IT infrastructure that was treading water as it struggled merely to ‘keep the lights on.’ His strategy was to risk disrupting the business by applying SaaS to aspects of the company’s IT infrastructure. When it comes to legacy software (especially ERP) the risk of change is very great, so Haines’ team was forced to compromise between cloud and legacy options. In the end, Pabst decommissioned its datacenter, and billions in revenue were saved for a company that now had a more efficient, user-oriented IT system:

The technology transformation was the easy part. The truth is that you need different skill sets, replacing system administrators with business analysts, programmer analysts, and project managers who have a user-focused mindset. It really is about putting the end user first.

The main trouble was in getting new skills to old employees, as they transition from the role of systems administrator to become the likes of business analysts and project managers.

Thinking inside the Box

Moving from an IT unit legacy infrastructure to an entirely cloud-based company was an abrupt change for Haines, especially in terms of pace. The unique speed of the cloud model enables applications to develop in mere months or days instead of years, making it difficult to retain important practices such as planning. Haines highlighted some important differences between legacy vs. cloud-based IT that he encountered in the job transition:


  • Hardware Procurement
  • ‘Racking and Stacking’
  • Base Software Installs
  • Patching


  • Business Processes
  • Data Integration
  • User Experience

According to Haines, the universal lesson to take from his experience was a set of priorities that place people before processes and processes before technology. When a CIO steps into their new office for the first time, they inherit a legacy that is now theirs to shape in the best interests of the company. 

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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