‘CIOs must constantly look at how technology can disrupt the market’

Steve Cairns is the chief information officer of Exigent, a consultancy firm that offers technology, strategy and consulting services for legal departments and C-suite executives.

In this role, he is responsible for tech strategy, IT operations and cybersecurity. The nature of his role also allows him to work as CIO for other companies in a variety of industries.

Cairns has more than 30 years’ experience working in the UK, US, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, having held various IT management and CIO roles. Here, he discusses his thoughts on tech strategy, security and impact of the mass movement to remote working.

‘The tech strategy needs to be a core element of the business strategy’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

I am Exigent’s chief information officer, based in London, UK. I joined in October 2019 and am responsible for the technology strategy, client-facing products, IT operations and cybersecurity.

I work with Exigent on a fractional basis, which allows me to work as CIO or CTO for other companies in a variety of industries including construction, logistics and retail. This has afforded me the opportunity to consider a number of different perspectives when driving Exigent’s tech strategy.

One of the key initiatives that we kicked off in 2020 was to reimagine Exigent’s future when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. A ‘plan ahead team’ was made up of colleagues from a variety of locations, functions and roles, and we were empowered with looking at a variety of client and colleague-facing initiatives that would help ensure Exigent’s growth. Many were tech-based and the results of our efforts are proving extremely valuable.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We have a number of exciting initiatives in flight right now. In addition to developing groundbreaking AI and machine learning solutions for our clients, we are moving our technology platforms to the cloud, rolling out an enterprise resource planning system, embedding a global collaboration platform that has proven extremely valuable during lockdown, rolling out a state-of-the-art client and colleague-facing service desk solution, and developing some amazing tech that is helping us to reinvent ourselves and support a much more dynamic workforce.

How big is your team?

We have a client-facing technology product development and testing team in India and an IT service management and infrastructure management team in both India and South Africa. I am based in London, so that makes for a really diverse and versatile global team.

We have strategic partnerships with exciting companies that help us to develop groundbreaking solutions for our clients, as well as supporting the internal needs of our colleagues across the globe.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

It is critical for a CIO to constantly look at how technology can help to create value for the business and our clients, not only transforming how things are done, but positioning the organisation to offer something unique to our clients; to disrupt the market.

The tech strategy needs to be a core element of the business strategy, supporting a roadmap for business growth. In these challenging times, technology can really help to connect employees that are no longer office-based, drive up productivity, engage with our clients in a more meaningful way and allow us to deliver amazing services.

The future of work is clearly going to involve a hybrid working culture, with a more agile approach to business change. This, however, needs to be mixed in with a solid foundation in good process and great communications. I believe that this is what will make us responsive to new business opportunities, be a trusted partner for our clients and ensure that we are resilient to the changing world we now find ourselves in.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the future of work from an IT perspective?

I believe that moving to the cloud is a foundational tech strategy. Systems, infrastructure and communications are all now leveraging the internet. We’re escaping from the burden of on-premises systems that have business continuity risks associated, as well as latency challenges when supporting a global workforce and client base.

The ability to operate as a truly global business, deliver the highest quality services to our clients and stay resilient to whatever challenges are thrown our way is a goal that I’m sure many CIOs share.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

As we move from an office-based to a hybrid workforce, employees are no longer connecting their computers to the secure company network and being protected by the office firewall. It’s critically important that we look at two perspectives: the technology and the people. From a tech perspective, we need to have the ability to deploy, monitor, patch, protect, manage and assess our valuable computer assets, regardless of where they are being used.

Acknowledging that the human element is often the weakest element in a company’s cyber defences, it’s also important to ensure that they are as well informed as possible to spot suspicious activity, such as a phishing attack or a social engineering call.

We have recently embarked on a global cybersecurity training and testing programme to address that risk. The workforce needs to be as well prepared to defend the organisation just as much as our cybersecurity tools. These two elements need to work in harmony for us to better protect our data.

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The post ‘CIOs must constantly look at how technology can disrupt the market’ appeared first on Silicon Republic.

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HEALTH TECH'S ROLE IN THE NEW OFFICE NORMAL: How digital health firms are helping US employers facilitate return-to-work programs amid the coronavirus pandemic

Summary List PlacementThe coronavirus pandemic has thrown the US economy into a state of flux, forcing businesses into uncharted territory as they decide when and how to reopen. Before the pandemic, 39% of US office employees worked remotely—which nearly doubled to 77% during the pandemic, per a June PwC survey.  Now, company leaders across the US are strategizing how to resume operations and restore normalcy by bringing their employees back into the office. In order to reopen brick-and-mortar offices, warehouses, and stores, it’ll be of paramount importance for employers to navigate how to do so safely and instate routines that curb the spread of the coronavirus. Otherwise, employers risk creating sites of new outbreaks and being forced to shut their doors yet again.

The pandemic could hike up employer medical spending—creating an even greater sense of urgency for products that help ensure workers are in good health. The pandemic could increase self-insured employers’ medical spending by as much as 10% in 2021, per PwC’s estimates. For context, this estimate was calculated under the assumption the wave of coronavirus cases erupting in the spring of 2020 would lead patients to defer care to 2021. So, investing in programs that will maintain the health and safety of workplaces will be top-of-mind for businesses looking to preemptively rein in medical spending now, considering it could tick up over the course of the year. 
Tech companies and digital health startups are rolling out software to facilitate the return-to-work transition for employees. Return-to-work methods have made headlines, like Amazon’s use of temperature checkpoints in its warehouses. But another segment of software developers—digital health firms—are designing platforms that focus on monitoring employees’ symptoms and coronavirus status, and passing that information onto their employers.
In this report, Insider Intelligence outlines how tech giants and digital health companies are using their tech and clinical expertise to help US businesses with their reopening plans. We explore what the return-to-work health tech space looks like now—providing examples of the solutions on the market from both tech companies and fast-moving digital health companies, and unpacking the pros and cons of each. Finally, we shed light on some of the legal and privacy-related challenges that could hamper employers’ implementation of tech-enabled return-to-work programs.  
The companies mentioned in this report are: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Castlight Health, Collective Health, Color, Dole, emocha, Facebook, Fitbit, Google, Microsoft, One Medical, RxMx, Salesforce, Sonde Health, UnitedHealth Group, UrbanSitters, and Verily. 
Here are some key takeaways from this report: 

Employers are strategizing how to reinstate normalcy in their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic—and tech developers are rolling out retirn-to-work programs that prioritize ensuring the health of employees. 
Some of the largest tech companies are throwing their hats into the workforce reentry space, leaning on their data analytics prowess and existing relationships with healthcare entities in their pursuit of return-to-work tie-ups. 
Digital health companies are relying on their specific areas of expertise—employee benefits, telehealth, lab testing, voice—to craft return-to-work programs that attract businesses across industries.   
Privacy hangups surrounding employee surveillance are still inhibiting employers from investing in and implementing return-to-work tech, and the changing legal landscape may also make it difficult to to implement workforce reentry programs, especially those than lean heavily on contact tracing. 

In full, the report: 

Provides a snapshot of the tech-focused return-to-work market.
Outlines ways in which prominent tech companies and digital health startups are pivoting to roll out workforce reentry solutions. 
Highlights the pros and cons of implementing return-to-work solutions.
Identifies the legal and privacy-related barriers that exist—and will likely persist—to investing in tech-focused return-to-work solutions.

Interested in getting the full report? Here’s how you can gain access:

Join other Insider Intelligence clients who receive this report, along with thousands of other Digital Health forecasts, briefings, charts, and research reports to their inboxes. > > Become a Client

Purchase the individual report from our store. > > Buy The Report Here

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