At the recent Midsize Enterprise Summit, a panel of leading midmarket CIOs discussed lessons learned from the nexus of business and technology and how they are pivoting to become chief innovation officers.

The panel was moderated by HP Enterprise’s Domingo Cortes, who oversees sales for the west region and was sponsored by HPE and Intel, longtime supporters of MES. HPE and Intel selected customers of theirs who are transforming their roles along with the companies’ IT strategies.

“Today’s CIOs are being asked to do more with less and doing things on budget, on time is no longer enough,” said Cortes. “Most companies are now routinely looking for their IT leaders to deliver innovation that creates competitive advantage and the ability to meet business goals, while also delivering improvements in IT performance, capabilities, security and cost savings.”

Read more about the Midsize Enterprise Summit ahd midmarket IT trends on the Midsize Enterprise Strategies web site

The panel session featured James Kenner, director of IT for TwinStar Credit Union; Riad Hasan, SVP and CIO for National Western Life and Alan Nafziger, CIO for Impact Telecom.

Before kicking off the panel discussion, Cortes outlined HPE’s mission to accelerate their customers’ business with ‘HPE Just Right IT’ model with four cornerstones:

  1. Embrace hybrid infrastructure
  2. Protect your digital enterprise
  3. Enable workplace productivity
  4. Empower the data-driven organization

Following are some of the highlights and lessons learned shared by the three panelists during the MES event:

James Kenner, Director of IT for TwinStar Credit Union

TwinStar’s Jams Kenner discussed the credit union’s recent project to upgrade its network and identify a storage solution that could meet its growth trajectory.  Kenner explained that IT had to provide to the executive team there was a need to improve performance in order to justify the expenditure to find a new solution. There was also a risk management committee that would need to be convinced.

Kenner felt it was also important to work with a knowledgeable partner so they chose SHI with whom they had an existing relationship. SHI took the time to understand the current storage solution and problems. Ultimately, TwinStar chose HPE and is confident they made the right choice.

His final advice for MES attendees was to have a conversation with management about how to best solve IT problems in the future and to present a well-researched and well-crafted business case. Key to success is ensuring that a proposed solution properly aligns the IT capabilities and solutions to meet the company’s business needs and can solve any potential problems that might interfere with the company’s business goals to improve sales and bottom line revenue.

Riad Hasan, SVP and CIO for National Western Life

After receiving a promotion to become CIO at National Western Life, Riad Hasan needed to address some of the IT issues that had been plaguing the company for the past several years as it experienced dramatic growth. Among the problems was an aging legacy system that was unable to keep up with new demands, including those needed for a mobile organization.

 In what Hasan called “an exercise in modernization”, he looked at several vendors offering storage solutions that would integrate with his virtualized system and performance needs. After careful review, Hasan’s team determined the HPE solution was the best option for their organization. They decided to run a three-month proof of concept SHI, a current VAR partner, before making the purchase in order to ensure the HPE solution worked well, and it did.  

Hasan’s also advised the MES attendees to seek the advice of experts if their team does not have the appropriate expertise and to assemble or leverage and existing risk committee to quantify the opportunities. These additional measures would give executive management and the board additional confidence, Hasan said.

Alan Nafziger, CIO for Impact Telecom

Alan Nafziger discussed his experience at Impact Telecom in seeking a new modernized storage solution but acknowledged it was complicated by a merger

Nafziger described to the MES attendees how he had been making the case to his company’s CFO over a six-month period that funding was eventually going to be needed to find a proper IT technology solution.

Although Nafziger’s team looked at cloud solutions, it decided it would be better to keep things on the inside. Impact Telecom did not want to work with multiple vendors and different products that might cause unwanted interoperability challenges and headaches. “A single vendor solution was the way to go for us,” said Nafziger. Working with their long-term IT partner, Insight, they settled on an HPE solution that gave them a scalable and hybrid structure.

In conclusion, while these three panelists all expressed their satisfaction with their HPE solution, they all stressed the need to conduct thorough research before making an IT infrastructure investment. Readers of this article may want to view a recent article by The Register that reported HPE is “the only major vendor-so-far-muttering ‘hybrid’ that actually seems to know what it is doing.”

Janice Cain, MBA, is an award-winning marketing consultant and PR advisor who has been working extensively in the IT industry for more than 10 years with some of the world’s best known software and hardware companies. Follow her @1010_Marketing