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Smith School's 10th Annual CIO Forum Features Federal CIO Vivek Kundra

Nov 21, 2009
Entrepreneurial Spirit

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Chief information officers and business professionals from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss the use of the Internet and how it affects different businesses at the 10th Annual CIO Forum sponsored by the Robert H. Smith School of Business. This was the first time the forum was held at the school’s Washington campus. More than 200 people were in attendance.

After a welcome from Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam, Vivek Kundra, the CIO for the federal government, spoke to the audience about President Barack Obama’s agenda and the challenges within the federal government itself when it comes to information technology.

VK“We want to leverage to power of technology to fundamentally change the way the public sector operates,” Kundra said. “What we’re seeing now in unprecedented numbers is how many consumers are moving toward mobile computing. Especially if you look at this phenomenon in the developing world, you can recognize what powers the growth of technology and what powers the consumption of technology is actually led by cell phones. And you’re creating these economies that have never existed before using the cell phone itself to deliver services, to communicate, and to interact with the public sector. “

Kundra also acknowledged the rising popularity and power in social sharing and networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

“The sheer number of users on Facebook, the sheer number of videos that are not just being uploaded, but viewed on a daily basis [is astonishing],” Kundra said. So is “the number of tweets, where now you are seeing the impact that Twitter has on the geopolitical climate across the world. And, you are also looking at how we are now able to move toward a market where information is far more liquid than it ever has been in the history of civilization. What we are seeing is the distance between individuals, the distance between countries is beginning to evaporate and now information is moving literally at the speed of light.”

After he acknowledged the importance of these sites, Kundra expressed the need for the government to be more transparent, especially when it comes to the Internet.

“If you look at what we are doing across the board when it comes to public sector, we haven’t really leveraged the principles of transparency and open government and participation in a way that allows us to really apply the Darwinian pressure of consumers to help us innovate,” he said, adding that it is easier to compare the pros, cons and costs of cars than it is to compare the same factors for things such as health care.

After Kundra finished his presentation, guests heard from keynote speaker Dr. Jamshed J. Irani, the chairman of the executive committee and the quality management services and director of Tata Sons Ltd., the most prominent steel company in the world.

Irani spoke to the audience about business excellence, explaining the problems Tata Steel had to go through before becoming No. 1, including layoffs of many employees. When Tata Steel was forced to layoff 3,000 employees, he said he made sure each employee received full benefits.

“They told me ‘You either have too little of a brain or too much money,’” Irani said. He also said that in order to run an efficient company, transparency is key; it was important to explain to his employees why things had to change and why jobs had to be cut.

A CEO, he explained, must give a company time to grow, handle many tasks that cannot be delegated and be the “champion of change.” CEOs must also reward both success and failure, and only punish inaction.

“Those who sit on their backside deserve to be kicked in that position,” Irani said.

PaulThe last keynote speaker at the CIO Forum was Paul de Sa, the chief strategist for the Federal Communications Commission. He spoke about having broadband access across America and issues of Internet speed.

“Do we have a world where there is ubiquitous broadband in our world, or a world of digital exclusion?” de Sa asked.

He explained the importance of everyone having access to broadband, and not just those people who are fortunate enough to live in an area that is already broadband accessible.

“If you don’t have Internet, you don’t get the same benefits as everyone else,” de Sa said, explaining that people without Internet access don’t have the same job, education or health opportunities as those who do.

Sixty-three percent of those in the United States with Internet access have broadband Internet, according to de Sa. Meanwhile, 33 percent of those with Internet access don’t have broadband, but feasibly could. Four percent of those with Internet access can’t have access to it at all, usually because of their geographical location.

De Sa spoke also talked about was turning off the old phone network. “We need to ensure that no American is left stranded in the legacy world,” de Sa said. “We cannot turn off the copper network yet because we can’t leave people stranded with no means of communication.”

Other speakers included Jason Karas, president of Carbonrally; Bipin Patel, CIO of Proquest; Premal Shah, president of Kiva; Larry Fitzpatrick, president of Computech, Inc.; Douglas Abel, CIO of Anne Arrundel Health System; David Horrock, president of CRISP; Cheryl B. Jones, director of outreach for CRISP; and, Sean Khozin, a founding member, vice president of medical affairs and doctor for Hello Health.

Guests at the event had the opportunity to ask questions after each speaker presented and were able to network throughout the day.

Jessica Bauer, Intern, Office of Marketing Communications

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.