“We like to call it our innovation pipeline, but that sounds rather presumptuous,” CIO Christopher Perretta confesses, pausing for a split second. “But it is!” he crows.
Perretta is CIO at State Street Corp., the Boston-based financial services giant. I spoke with him recently about his construction and launch of a private cloud (our conversation is preserved as a podcast running this week on SearchCIO.com). After explaining the hows and whys of this two-year effort, he talked about another building challenge for CIOs: designing an IT organization that can leverage technologies like cloud computing and large-scale data analytics on an “industrial scale” to deliver business value.
To that end, Perretta has scoured his organization for people who “can think in an architectural way … in what I’ll call large-scale abstractions,” he says. While these people can get “down and dirty with the detail,” they also can connect IT architecture to “a real, live business result.” At the helm of this function is a chief architect, Perretta says, someone with 30 years’ experience who “knows the business inside out” and whose job is not to manage projects, but identify and pilot ideas that make sense for State Street. Out in front of this guy is a chief scientist whose job it is to look even further into the future for interesting technologies.
The presumptive result, Perretta explains, will be an IT organization that can spot technology trends three to five years out, assess the current state of the market, pilot the technologies that make sense for State Street and — with a lot of hard work, if his implementation of a private cloud is any evidence — figure out how to make these technologies operational in a very large organization. “We have a model now that makes sense to me. It is structured, but it is not bureaucratic, he says. “But there is a pipeline of ideas that focuses the organization,” he adds, “much more than if everybody is off thinking about things to do.” An innovation pipeline, in other words.