3 Ways To Stay Ahead of IT Trends

Subscription IT departments have every opportunity and imperative to emerge as innovators within their company, as well as the much larger ecosystem of industry and technology partners, solutions and platforms. Here are three tips from DocuSign’s CIO to help you stay on top of the latest IT trends and news.

Paranoia Keeps You Sharp

Eric Johnson became DocuSign’s CIO in late 2014 after 12 years at Informatica in senior technical roles including that company’s CIO. Johnson began his career with Deloitte Consulting where he specialized in supply chain and manufacturing solutions across high tech, consumer, oil and gas, and other industries.

Everyone should acquire their own sense of paranoia and expose themselves to “the winds of change,”  he wrote in an article for CIO Story.

Johnson says CIOs must never assume they know the latest and greatest about anything. “The world of technology is changing faster today than at any time in history,” he says. “What is new now could very well be archaic in thirty seconds.”

3 Ways to Keep Informed

He deploys three methods to stay ahead of IT news and business trends:

  • Pick your favorite sources for news and updates to stay abreast of the latest technology and how they relate to the challenges you want to solve: “As impossible as it is to read everything, I do, like many of you, have my favorites when it comes to getting news and updates, etc. I rely heavily on sites such as TechCrunch as well as social media to stay apprised of the latest buzz regarding technology and how best to apply that to business challenges I am trying to solve.”
  • No one person can read all there is to know. Johnson belongs to a number of professional groups that meet regularly to discuss their latest challenges and the solutions they deploy to address those needs: “I belong to a number of CIO professional groups, which regularly meet to discuss challenges they are facing and the latest solutions to meet those needs. The plain truth is no one can read or consume all there is online. It’s just a physical impossibility. So I rely on my peers and so should you. It’s worth noting that those same peers rely on you, as well, and that you will only get out as much as you put in.”
  • Hang with the venture guys. He regularly attends meetings with venture capitalists in the tech space to review and learn from their portfolio of investments: “I realize I may be in the minority with this one but I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a number of well-regarded, well-respected venture capitalists in the tech space like Kleiner Perkins Caufield& Byers, Accel Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Sigma West and Ignition Partners. I regularly attend meetings to review and learn fromtheir portfolio of investments.”

A Simple but Effective Framework for Evaluating Technology

In addition to knowledge, Johnson says to hire people smarter than yourself, provide a strategic vision, coach and support your team and often act as though you are working for them. Humility goes a long way, he says.

How does Eric Johnson evaluate technology? He categorizes the critical nature of the business function to determine if a bleeding-edge solution or one with a track record for success is appropriate.

Subscription finance requires established technology, since it enables critical business functions. Social solutions can be less stable since they’re less likely to cripple operations if something goes wrong.

Looking forward, Johnson says, traditional CIOs must advance to cloud and digital technologies and evolve to a business- and subscriber-centric model:

“As far as the future is concerned, I believe the future of the CIO is bright. As technology continues to innovate and uncover new ways to drive businesses forward, the need for an executive that can champion and leverage technology to help solve business challenges and find the always-desirable competitive advantage will become ever invaluable.”

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