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Risk-Taking is a CIO Requirement

Should a CIO take technology risks? As you might expect, the more appropriate question is, “When should a CIO take technology risks and how should they go about it?” Scott Koegler interviews Riverbed Technology Vice President and CIO Ginna Raahauge at The Enterprisers Project for answers.

Risk Tolerance

Question One from Koegler is aimed at organizational risk culture. As a CIO, Raahauge says Riverbed has a high risk tolerance, and that this risk investment has paid in high dividends:

You have to if you’re going to innovate and revolutionize anything with an organization. In fact, your tolerance for risk is directly related to how successful you can be and that tolerance is worth challenging. The distinction is to know where risk will pay off and where it will get you into trouble.

The Risk Test

Koegler asks how her company supports risks. Raahauge replies that only smart risks are supported at all, but that if risks are taken seriously, it is because they pass the test of being explicit about outcomes. That is, jargon aside, what kind of positive impact will this risk allow in concrete business terms? Part of mitigating risk from innovation is enabling those same front line people (often developers) in recognizing the timing and appropriateness of risk-taking.

About what risk outcomes were successful for her operation, Raahuage points to the revolution of Riverbed’s collaboration platform. The decision was risky because it took traditional user tools and replaced them with “standardized, cloud-based collaboration tools,” a change that was very personal for the user, and ultimately did not please everyone. But Raahuage is confident that the change enabled IT cost and security improvements, as well as a sorely needed cultural and communication upgrade for the LOB.

To read the full interview, visit:

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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