Some customers require the company to change its products

Some customers require the company to change its products
Image Credit: 10ch

A CIOs focus is more often than not on the internal workings of the company. We spend our time using the importance of information technology to try to figure out how more things within the company can be automated or how we can keep the bad guys out. However, in this day and age in which we are living, there is a new role that is being thrust upon the person with the CIO job. There are certain customers who are not satisfied with the company’s product and demand changes. This is when a CIO can get involved.

Microsoft’s Problem With China

A great example of the challenges that a single customer can cause a company to experience shows up when we take a look at Microsoft. As we all know, Microsoft makes the very popular Windows 10 operating system that is used the world over. However, a while back in China the government conducted a cybersecurity crackdown and the result of this was that a number of Microsoft’s products stopped being purchased by the Chinese government.

Since the Chinese government has the potential to be such a large customer of Microsoft products, this clearly posed a problem for Microsoft and their CIO. Something had to be done. What the Microsoft CIO decided to do was to develop a custom version of the Windows 10 software for use by the Chinese government.

The reason that the Chinese Government is interested in having Microsoft create a unique version of their software for them to use is because they fear that the standard version of Windows might contain hidden back doors that could allow foreign snooping on government computers. Microsoft is not telling anyone exactly what changes were made to the operating system in order to meet the requirements of the Chinese government.

How To Make A Demanding Customer Happy(er)

If the Chinese government didn’t really trust Microsoft to provide them with a standard version of Windows 10 that would not be loaded with spying tools, then how did the Microsoft CIO go about meeting this demanding customer’s needs? The answer is that Microsoft ended up partnering with a state-owned Chinese company called China Electronics Technology Group. The reason that Microsoft was willing to partner with this company is because they saw it as a way to open doors that had been shut to them and gain access to the Chinese state sector.

Microsoft is not the only high tech company that has found itself dealing with a large and demanding customer when dealing with the Chinese government. Qualcomm, Intel and other firms have been forced to enter into partnerships with Chinese based companies. IBM has also announced a partnership with the Wanda Group that will be used to provide cloud computing services.

Although these partnerships allow a company to sell to the Chinese government, the people in the CIO positon know that they have to be careful. When working with such companies the company with the technology has to walk a very careful line. They are going to end up having to reveal enough about their product to reassure the Chinese government regulators. However, they also have to realize that today’s partners may become tomorrow’s competitors. This means that they need to be very careful and not give away their core intellectual property.

What All Of This Means For You

The traditional role of a CIO has him or her focusing on what the company is both doing and trying to do. This generally means that the CIO looks internally and tries to solve problems before they become big problems. However, things are changing and as demanding customers start to require that companies customize their products to meet the customer’s unique needs, CIOs are being called upon to help manage this process.

A classic example of a company having to change its product in order to meet the unique needs of a single customer is the changes that Microsoft has had to make to Windows 10 for the Chinese government. The Chinese government is afraid that the standard version of Windows 10 might allow foreign powers to snoop on Chinese government computers. They required that Microsoft partner with a local Chinese firm in order to create a new version of Windows 10 for the government to use. These kinds of partnerships have to be handled very carefully. Today’s partner may take the intellectual property that gets exposed to them and use it to become tomorrow’s competitor.

Demanding customers will always exist. CIOs are going to have to learn how best to deal with them. If the company’s product is going to have to be customized in order to meet a customer’s unique needs, then the CIO is going to have to oversee the project and make sure that the company does not reveal too much to any partners that they may find themselves working with.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What would be the best way to limit the amount of intellectual property that a firm revealed to a required partner?

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P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So just exactly what does any of us know about the field of quantum mechanics? If you’ve done some science fiction reading, then by now you probably know that quantum mechanics talks about a particle can exist in more than one state all at the same time. Additionally, there is the property that Einstein called “spooky” where quantum particles are able to communicate with each other over vast distances. This is all fine and good, but just exactly how can any of this have an impact on what we are trying to accomplish as CIOs?

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Sure AI is powerful, but can it be too powerful?

Sure AI is powerful, but can it be too powerful?
Image Credit: A Health Blog

As the person with the CIO job, it is our responsibility to stay on top of all of the new technology that is out there because we understand the importance of information technology. Our goal has to be to understand how the new technology works and to determine whether or not it can be useful for our company. One such technology that has shown up on the horizon in the past few years is artificial intelligence (AI). What does this mean for our companies and is it a good thing or a bad thing?

How Facebook Uses AI

CIOs know that they don’t have to be the ones to come up with solutions to all of the problems that they end up facing. Instead, they can look at how other firms have dealt with their own set of challenges. Once you understand this, you can see if the same solutions can be applied to your firm. A great example of a company that is currently investing heavily into AI is Facebook. If we take a look at the challenges that they are dealing with, we can attempt to see if we can relate them to what our companies are dealing with.

Once of the biggest challenges that Facebook is currently dealing with is the problem of fake news. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, news stories that were made up spread like wildfire across the Facebook universe and may have influenced how people voted in the election. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckenberg initially dismissed fake news as not being a big deal; however, since then he has changed his tune. Currently Facebook has tasked a number of employees to do nothing but scan news stories and determine if they are real or made up. Clearly this is something that could probably be better handled by AI.

Another challenge that Facebook is trying to deal with is violence that shows up in the live videos that their users stream via Facebook tools. Facebook would like to prevent these types of videos in part because they are currently being used by terrorist organizations as recruiting tools. However, detecting when a video is showing a scene of violence can be a very difficult thing to do. Once again, Facebook has employed people to watch videos all over the world in order to detect when a violent video is being uploaded. This too is a task that could be better performed by AI.

How CIOs Can Use AI

CIOs need to take a look at what Facebook is trying to use AI to do and make some decisions about what they want to do for their firms. We need to understand that no solution is perfect and the AI solutions that Facebook is trying to implement have some downsides associated with them. In the case of the fake news project, Facebook is very concerned that they may end up censoring too much information because it has been incorrectly identified as being fake news.

How to handle video streams that contain violence is even more difficult for AI to do. This problem comes with two distinct challenges. The first is that in order to solve this problem Facebook is going to require a very fast computer vision algorithm. The good news is that the company believes that it can create this. However, the second problem is harder. The company is going to have to come up with a set of practices that it can use to determine what should and should not be removed from video streams.

What CIOs are going to have to deal with is selling the value of adding AI to the company’s systems. We are going to have to help the various people in our company get over their view of AI as being either some sort of magic act or something out of a Terminator movie. Instead, we need to get everyone to realize that AI has finally become real and if we take the time, then we can find ways to use it correctly within our company.

What All Of This Means For You

The person in the CIO position is the person that the rest of the company is going to be looking to when it comes time to make decisions about adding new technologies to the way that the company does business. One of the new technologies that we are going to have to be taking a look at is AI. We need to determine if this is going to help or hinder our company.

The good news here is that Facebook is currently facing the same set of challenges when it comes to evaluating how best to use AI. If we step back and take a look at how they are dealing with this challenge then we get some guidance for how we are going to want to deal with it. Facebook is dealing with the scourge of fake news. Currently Facebook employs people to search for fake news, but AI could do it better and faster. Additionally, Facebook wants to prevent its users from uploading violent videos. In order to prevent this, Facebook currently uses employees who are located all over the world. AI could do this better if Facebook had a fast enough video processing algorithm and a clear set of policies that determined what video was allowed

There is no question about it: AI is coming. CIOs need to take the time to look around and determine what other firms are doing. Facebook provides us with a great example of what challenges AI can be applied to solving. We need to watch Facebook carefully and determine where they end up applying the power of AI.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it would be better to eliminate too much news in order to get rid of all of the fake news or should we live with too little?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

A CIOs focus is more often than not on the internal workings of the company. We spend our time using the importance of information technology to try to figure out how more things within the company can be automated or how we can keep the bad guys out. However, in this day and age in which we are living, there is a new role that is being thrust upon the person with the CIO job. There are certain customers who are not satisfied with the company’s product and demand changes. This is when a CIO can get involved.

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