“Changing Role of the CIO” virtual event
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CIOs share what gets them excited, and what keeps them up at night

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: Four enterprise tech leaders discuss the state of IT, a mishap at a memory chip plant was the last thing the chip shortage needed and where top enterprise tech execs are headed next.

Spin up

AMD has gained x86 server chip market share for 11 straight quarters, largely at the expense of Intel, according to Mercury Research data. AMD has now captured 10.7% of the server market, up 3.6 percentage points from the year-ago quarter.

It’s the data, stupid

It wasn’t too long ago that Fortune 500 CIOs were valued more for their cost-cutting acumen than their technology vision, but those days are well behind us. Today’s megacorporation CIO sits at the heart of their company’s business strategy now that every company is a technology company to one extent or another, which means they play a unique role shaping how business and technology teams work together.

Protocol Enterprise was thrilled to host four tech leaders from some of the biggest companies on the planet — Rob Carter, CIO, FedEx; Sheila Jordan, chief digital technology officer, Honeywell; Chris Bedi, CIO, ServiceNow; and Vittorio Cretella, CIO, Procter & Gamble — during our “Changing Role of the CIO” virtual event earlier this week. You can watch a replay of the whole discussion here, but we wanted to call out a few highlights.

The pandemic forced every company in the world to think differently about their tech strategy, which has made our panel’s jobs easier in some ways and harder in others.

  • “We've all been slingshot into the future here through the pandemic, and through these last couple years, and so the dialogue has escalated,” FedEx’s Carter said.
  • “One of the silver linings out of COVID-19 is that it made the technology become very real and relevant to every single individual in the organization,” said Honeywell’s Jordan.
  • “Every single function, every single strategic business unit has a digital agenda and we get to sit squarely in the middle to help orchestrate that,” she said.

But skilled IT professionals are in short supply, even at companies with enormous budgets.

  • “What keeps me awake at night is … how to make sure that we continue to feed the talent pipeline with brilliant technologists who have a good business perspective,” P&G’s Cretella said.
  • That means embracing the concept of “shadow IT” rather than fighting it, ServiceNow’s Bedi said.
  • “I truly think that if we do that we can let all the talent in our companies actually participate in their own digital transformation without having to come to a central organization,” Bedi said.

Investments in data and AI technologies are paying real dividends for the tech leaders on our panel.

  • “Data is the currency of digital transformation,” Jordan said. “I really do think at some point — and I don't want to insult anyone in the audience — but infrastructure and applications will be less and less relevant.”
  • However, “putting the right guardrails in, the right governance and management around data has been the best way to empower [employees],” Carter said.
  • All panelists thought AI would be an extremely important part of their future, but Bedi warned that “the more sophisticated the AI algorithm, the less understandable it is by humans, and humans want that explainable AI,” which can lead to disillusionment.

We closed out the panel by asking our crew to list the emerging technologies they’re most excited about incorporating into their businesses.

  • For Carter, edge computing has enormous potential to transform the shipping business: “It's the frontier; how far out do the networks and the technologies go to enable new things that we haven't even dreamed of?”
  • Honeywell’s Jordan noted the importance of data but also emphasized sustainability. “Looking at products and services, in what we're deploying and how we can actually have a positive sustainability impact, is going to be critical in the next three years.”
  • “I don't want to use the word metaverse, that is a bit inflated these days,” P&G’s Cretella said. “But definitely, I think the hype around virtual realities and hybrid environments is going to become less hype and more mainstream reality going forward.”
  • ServiceNow’s Bedi didn’t want to single any one technology out, instead underscoring that modern CIOs have an amazing set of emerging tech to play with. “What gets me really excited is the application of them: How do we make them real?

— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)


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Memory prices set to rise

A mysterious material contamination in flash memory made at two factories in Japan triggered shutdowns beginning in January, Western Digital and Kioxia disclosed late Wednesday. The material contamination affected 3D flash memory chips built at the factories, which operate under a partnership between the two companies. Neither gave a thorough explanation of the issue, or what caused it.

Memory is like the oil of the semiconductor business: an essential commodity. And now there’s going to be 6.5 exabytes less memory on the market, which is the equivalent of roughly 50 million 128 gigabyte solid-state drives, or about 13% of the groups’ total output for the first quarter.

As a result of the contamination issue, TrendForce now expects flash memory prices to rise 5% to 10%, compared with a forecasted fall in price before the factory problems. What’s bad for Kioxia and WD, however, might be good news for Micron and Samsung, which also make flash memory.

— Max A. Cherney (email | twitter)

Enterprise moves

Laura Heisman was appointed CMO at VMware. Heisman previously led communications and marketing at GitHub.

Sylvain Cazard was named GM of Asia Pacific and Japan at VMware. Cazard was previously VP of the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa business.

Janet George is joining Intel as head of the Cloud and Enterprise Solutions Group. George was previously a vice president at Oracle, and starts with Intel Feb. 14.

Josh Leslie joined Gremlin as CEO. Leslie previously held leadership roles at VMware and was the CEO of Cumulus Networks, later acquired by Nvidia.

Around the enterprise

AMD has received final regulatory approval for its Xilinx acquisition and expects to close the deal next week.

Cloudflare reported a 54% jump in quarterly revenue and the acquisition of Vectrix, a cloud security startup.

Confluent revenue surged 71% during the fourth quarter but it reported a much wider loss compared to last year.

Zendesk saw revenue increase 32% compared to the fourth quarter of 2021 while private equity firms take a close look at buying it out.

Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

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