Ron Guerrier from HP, Linda Jojo from United Airlines and Lidia Fonseca from Pfizer. Illustration by Alexander Wells.
Recognizing 50 top tech leaders who are redefining the CIO role and driving game-changing innovation.
Today’s outstanding CIOs know that mastering technology alone isn’t a guarantee of success in tomorrow’s world. They are chief intelligence officers who help companies profit from the insights that AI and machine learning are uncovering. They are chief innovation officers who co-create products and services that delight customers and deliver new revenues. They are chief infrastructure officers who align cloud computing and advanced software tools with companies’ business goals. And they are chief inspiration officers who energize their teams to achieve the seemingly impossible.
The second annual Forbes CIO Next list highlights 50 technology leaders who have embraced this broader vision of their role. Some of our honorees work for tech behemoths while others are in smaller entrepreneurial businesses in sectors such as healthcare and real estate. Some work for multinational companies while others are employed by ones focused on the U.S. What they all have in common is a passion for using technology to help shape the future of business.
The list is not a ranking, but rather an opportunity to shine a spotlight on these digital-savvy changemakers. Based on qualitative research by Forbes editors and submissions from executives who responded to calls for nominations, it is informed by insights from consultants, academics, recruiters and other experts who follow the community closely. While they did not vet candidates, they helped identify the traits that distinguish exceptional CIOs from the pack.
The influence of these leaders was growing in C-suites and boardrooms before the pandemic began, but Covid-19 has taken it to a new level. The unexpected opportunity to demonstrate to colleagues and investors what a digital-first world can look like has propelled CIOs to the epicenter of decision-making on everything from how to manage hybrid work to how to tap into the metaverse and other virtual ways of connecting with customers.
Their influence extends way beyond technology itself. They care a great deal about diversity, launching programs to recruit and retain diverse tech staff, becoming executive sponsors of employee support groups and backing industry-wide initiatives to broaden tech’s talent pool. They also care about sustainability, finding creative ways to use technology and data to cut carbon emissions from data centers and other sources.
In short, they are as far from the traditional image of a CIO as you could possibly get. They are much more engaged with business strategy, much more influential in boardrooms and much more determined to have a broader impact on issues that matter to society. We invite you to get to know the 50 leaders on our second CIO Next list, celebrate their success and then follow their progress as they transform businesses and the world around them.
Position: Chief Digital & Information Officer
Shankar Arumugavelu’s 10,000-person tech team is one of the biggest among the companies on our list, but it also has plenty to keep it busy at Verizon, whose revenue hit $133.6 billion last year. To help the telecom giant navigate through the pandemic, it introduced augmented reality tech that let field technicians assist customers via a mobile app instead of entering their homes. This is now being used by call center employees, too. The company’s tech chief has also been supporting the rollout of 5G connectivity, overseeing the creation of a computer vision model that analyzes spatial and geographic data to identify optimal locations for new cell coverage areas.
Position: Global CIO
Company: Kraft Heinz
If Corrado Azzarita was an American football player, he’d want to play both defense and offense. The global CIO of food company Kraft Heinz sees his mission as supporting what he calls “defensive IT,” or tech that protects the business and ensures it has best-in-class processes, and “offensive IT,” which drives growth directly and creates new business models through the innovative use of data and analytics. An example of the latter is an AI system Azzarita’s team has developed to optimize promotional spending that’s aimed at acquiring new customers. Kraft, which reported revenue of $26 billion in 2021, thinks this could add more than $50 million in EBITDA to its bottom line within three years.
Atish Banerjea, the CIO of Facebook’s parent, Meta, has had a front-row seat to some of the biggest tech transformations in recent history. In former CIO roles at Pearson and NBCUniversal, he was engaged in the transition from print to digital publishing and the rise of streaming media. Now he’s looking to transform the world of work using tech his CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has dubbed “the metaverse.” Banerjea’s team is trialing things such as VR headsets, augmented reality applications and virtual name tags to ensure a level playing field between in-office and remote workers at Meta, which reported 2021 revenue of $117.9 billion. Some of that tech could find its way to customers of the company’s Workplace collaboration platform.
Position: Global CIO
Forward-thinking leaders are revamping the tech foundations of their businesses to support rapid innovation. At Anthem, a U.S. health giant with almost $137 billion in revenue in 2021, Anil Bhatt has replaced legacy systems with a microservices-based architecture. This approach builds applications using modular services that perform specific tasks. These are bolted together via application programming interface (API) software. The business, which sees 50 million API calls every 24 hours, can now release new capabilities in days rather than months. Bhatt is also a big proponent of equitable access to healthcare and helped create Sydney Health, Anthem’s member engagement platform.
The pandemic hit the travel industry hard, but Martin Brodbeck’s team was able to help Priceline weather the storm thanks to a significant investment in cloud computing it had made before the crisis broke. A cloud-based data lake and data warehouse have enabled it to get deeper insights into its customers and to increase personalized offers to them. Priceline, which is owned by $92 billion market-cap Booking Holdings, tapped those insights to launch a new VIP rewards platform in 2020, which has driven double-digit growth in repeat orders. Brodbeck also introduced new internal processes for building software that have cut release times significantly.
When Carter Busse joined Workato in March last year, he quickly realized it did not have accurate data about what customers had purchased, their subscription renewal dates or contractual terms. To fix that, he oversaw a four-month project to improve the quality of data gathered by the business, whose software helps companies automate workflows in areas such as HR and finance. Workato, which raised a $200 million Series E round last year at a $5.7 billion valuation, can now better predict renewals and that’s helped drive 10% more revenue so far this year. As part of his role, Busse blogs about the benefits of automation and runs a podcast where he interviews other CIOs.
Position: Chief Digital Officer & SVP, Enterprise Services
Company: Raytheon Technologies
The product of a merger between United Technologies and Raytheon in 2020, Raytheon Technologies is one of the world’s largest aerospace and defense companies, with $64.4 billion in 2021 revenue. Since the deal closed, Vince Campisi and his core tech staff 0f around 7,500 people have been busy managing an ambitious integration program that’s included reducing Raytheon Technologies’ data center capacity by 60% in terms of servers decommissioned or moved to the cloud and using software to automate processes. Campisi, who also oversees its real estate portfolio and several other activities, has helped the new business achieve $1 billion of targeted cost savings a couple of years ahead of schedule.
Position: Global CIO
Like many other tech leaders on this list, Seth Cohen is laser-focused on building tech platforms that support existing businesses and make it easier to launch new ones fast. These platforms became more important than ever during the pandemic and increasingly rely on the computing cloud. PepsiCo’s global CIO has used multiple clouds to slash the time it takes to provision new services from months to days. Thanks to his team’s work, PepsiCo, which reported almost $80 billion in revenue last year, was able to launch snacks.com, its first U.S. direct-to-consumer offering, within 30 days in 2020.
When the pandemic began, many CIOs morphed into corporate first responders. At Kroger, Yael Cosset and his team managed an explosion in online demand, with transaction volumes rising 800% in a matter of weeks on some of its platforms. Thanks in part to the extra data generated about customers’ shopping behavior, Kroger was able to serve up more than a trillion personalized purchase recommendations last year, helping it lift revenue to almost $138 billion. Cosset’s team also played a key role in the fight against Covid-19, building new digital solutions in a matter of days to support Kroger pharmacists and clinics administering vaccines.
Position: Global Chief Digital Officer
Many executives on this list are using AI and machine learning to turbocharge their businesses. At Mars, tech leader Sandeep Dadlani has even staged an AI festival to highlight some of the 1,000-plus programs launched since he joined the company in 2017. The privately owned pet care and confectionery business, which generates over $40 billion in annual revenue, has seen plenty of them pay off. AI-led pricing and promotions have added over half a billion dollars to its gross margin since 2018, and it’s using algorithms to help its customers in multiple ways, including deploying AI to analyze radiological images of pets to spot diseases.
Company: Blue Shield of California
Lisa Davis has a wealth of leadership experience in the worlds of government, education and high tech. In February 2020 she added healthcare to that list, joining nonprofit Blue Shield of California as CIO just as the pandemic was beginning. Since then, Davis and her team have automated over 300,000 hours of manual labor, saving millions of dollars for the business, which generates $22.8 billion a year in revenue. They also used data to help target outreach campaigns that drove up vaccination rates in marginalized communities. A former tech leader in U.S. counterintelligence and CIO of the U.S. Marshals Service, Davis knows a lot about cybersecurity and has stepped up internal training programs and reviewed security policies of more than 500 tech vendors Blue Shield uses.
Position: CIO & Senior Vice President of Information Technology & Data Analytics
Covid-19 created turbulent times for Boeing, but also a runway for digital change that Susan Doniz has made the most of since joining from Australian airline Qantas in May 2020. One big shift involved outsourcing management of a majority of Boeing’s computing infrastructure. That has freed up more tech staff to support growth initiatives, which contributed to total revenue of $62.3 billion last year. Boeing’s tech leader is also extracting more value from data, including tapping information from 700-plus components to predict when air-conditioning systems on 787 planes will need maintenance. In addition to her IT work, Doniz, who’s Hispanic, is executive sponsor of the Boeing Familia employee resource group.
Even IT companies like Oracle, whose revenue hit $40.5 billion in its 2021 fiscal year, need to think about transforming their operations digitally for a fast-changing world. When she became CIO of the business in April 2020, Jae Evans shifted her team’s focus away from delivering discrete projects and toward partnering closely with business units to support specific products. She also introduced more monitoring and automation of its tech infrastructure—a move that has reduced IT support requests by 80%—and has rolled out new data centers to support customers, launching toward the end of last year eight new regions in about 11 weeks.
Position: Chief Digital Officer & CIO
Company: Dell Technologies
Dell made its name building cheap, made-to-order PCs using streamlined, “lean” manufacturing techniques. It has since branched out into areas including tech consulting and managing other companies’ computing infrastructure, boosting revenue to $101.2 billion in its latest fiscal year. Felch has applied lean principles in her role leading Dell Digital, the company’s IT group, which has over 10,000 staff. An example: Several years ago, developers were spending just a fifth of their time writing functional code; the rest was spent on administrative tasks. Using the cloud and a DevOps approach, which streamlines processes and upgrades tech tools to speed up software releases, Felch has ensured developers now spend around three quarters of their time writing code that matters.
Position: Chief Digital & Technology Officer
Pfizer’s chief scientific officer likes to say that digital capabilities are helping science to win faster, recounts Lidia Fonseca, the pharma giant’s tech leader. Speed has been key in the global battle against Covid-19 and Fonseca and her team have used data, AI and machine learning to accelerate the development of the pharma giant’s vaccine and its Paxlovid oral antiviral drug. They tapped cloud-based supercomputing capacity to run models that helped Pfizer narrow down promising compounds for Paxlovid five to ten times faster than usual, and deployed algorithms to optimize the selection of trial sites for its vaccine—an approach that’s now being used in many other clinical studies at the company, whose revenue hit $81.3 billion last year.
Company: Stanley Black & Decker
Cutting-edge technology leaders democratize access to data within the confines of privacy and security guardrails. The benefits of doing so can be significant, as Stanley Black & Decker’s experience shows. After CIO Rhonda Gass created a hub-and-spoke data platform that distributed real-time data more widely across the manufacturer of tools and security products, it saw margins increase more than two percentage points over a couple of years thanks to improved pricing strategies and better-targeted promotions. Gass also struck a big outsourcing deal in early 2020 that is delivering savings of over 20% on an annualized basis to the company, which reported $15.6 billion in revenue last year.
Position: Chief Information Technology Officer
When the pandemic hit, it forced PetSmart’s dog training, pet grooming and boarding businesses to shut. This was a double blow because those businesses also drive some retail sales at the privately owned company, which has more than 1,660 stores across the U.S. and Canada and serves 50 million customers a year. When they reopened, balancing demand and supply while keeping customers and employees safe was a challenge. Michael Goodwin helped solve it by overseeing the creation of a new salon reservation system based on tech used by cable companies’ field service technicians. Goodwin’s team also moved fast to create the digital foundations needed to support things such as curbside pickup of purchases.
Company: IDEXX Labs
Ken Grady says one of the best pieces of advice he ever received came from a CFO at Swiss medical giant Novartis, where he once worked. “My job is to make the company investable,” the executive told him. “Your job as CIO is to make IT investable.” The CIO of IDEXX Labs, which sells diagnostics and other products to veterinarians around the world, has taken that recommendation to heart. He and his team built an e-commerce platform for customers to buy reagents and other supplies that now accounts for more than a third of Idexx’s total revenue, which rose 19% last year to $3.2 billion. They also created a cloud-based lab software ecosystem that’s supported double-digit growth in the amount of samples processed.
After studying computer science at university, Jean-Denis Greze became a lawyer for a short time before returning to the tech world, eventually becoming CTO of Plaid, a private company that closed a $425 million Series D round in April 2021 at a $13.4 billion valuation. Plaid provides tech that enables consumers to link financial apps to their accounts at over 12,000 banks and other financial institutions. Greze has put his legal background to good use, championing Plaid’s privacy working group and creating a portal that lets consumers control where their financial information is shared. He has also launched an apprenticeship program to train people who don’t have traditional software engineering backgrounds.
Position: Chief Digital Officer
Furniture giant MillerKnoll is the product of a $1.8 billion merger last year between Herman Miller and Knoll. Chief Digital Officer Ben Groom got a key seat at the leadership table of the combined business, which has more than 11,000 employees and operates in 100-plus countries. One of Groom’s areas of focus is the metaverse, which MillerKnoll is exploring by modifying 3-D digital models for use in virtual reality environments. Groom’s also leaning in on AI, speeding up the merchandising process by using natural language processing to automatically create captions and descriptions for images of products.
Kathryn Guarini runs a blog called Mother of Invention in which she has ruminated on everything from climate change to AI, summer camp and the rise of hybrid cloud computing. The latter theme has been clear in her work as IBM’s CIO, a position she assumed last year after serving as COO of its research arm. Her team of nearly 12,000 employees has overseen the move of more than half of the company’s internal IT workload to the hybrid cloud, which typically combines data centers run by companies themselves plus ones owned by public cloud providers. In her prior role, Guarini, who has a doctorate in physics and holds 65 patents, launched Impact Science, which applies IBM’s know-how to pressing challenges such as sustainability and the future of work.
Position: Global CIO
Ron Guerrier says his previous role as the top tech official for the state of Illinois taught him that scarcity breeds innovation. At PC, printer and digital manufacturing giant HP, he’s looking to get the most from IT dollars invested by the business, which reported $63.5 billion in revenue in its 2021 fiscal year. Guerrier has cut HP’s ERP systems, which help keep track of day-to-day business, from 13 to just one and introduced new software for price quotes that’s four times faster than legacy tools. A strong advocate of greater diversity in tech, he’s aiming to have his U.S. IT organization’s racial makeup match the country’s by 2030.
Position: Chief Innovation & Digital Officer
Company: Toyota Financial Services
Toyota Financial Services (TFS), which has a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, is America’s largest auto lender and reported over $136 billion in assets at the end of last year. It has morphed into a platform other mobility brands can use and last year signed a deal with Bass Pro Shops’ parent company to finance sales of boats and all-terrain vehicles. Vipin Gupta, who joined TFS as CIO in 2018, has been central to its transformation, creating a new cloud-based tech platform that segregates clients’ data but lets them share the underlying computing infrastructure. In January, Gupta was promoted to a new role that adds corporate strategy, research and innovation, and some other areas to his responsibilities.
Vertiv, which makes gear such as computer racks and cabinets as well as backup power systems for data centers, went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2020 in a SPAC deal. CIO Sheryl Haislet, who joined it in February of that year, moved fast to replace several aging ERP systems with a modern platform so the business could keep track of day-to-day operations more effectively. Her team also created an app for employees and customers that lets them configure racks with components using augmented reality technology. These and other moves helped the Columbus, Ohio-headquartered company generate $5 billion in revenue last year in spite of supply chain challenges triggered by the pandemic.
Position: SVP, Information Technology
Company: NRG Energy
In 2020, Kim Hales put the finishing touches on a multi-year digital transformation strategy that has helped reduce tech operating costs at Houston-headquartered NRG Energy by more than $56 million annually. Since then, he has driven other changes, such as deploying software to automate 275-plus processes at the company and using insights from data analytics to boost customer retention. Hales’ work couldn’t have been better timed: Since 2018, NRG Energy has acquired several businesses that have doubled its customer base to around 6 million and boosted revenue from $9.8 billion in 2019 to almost $27 billion last year.
Position: Chief Innovation & Technology Officer
Company: Lithia & Driveway
In his spare time, George Hines volunteers to walk dogs at his local animal shelter in Oregon. In his professional life, he’s been helping the fast-growing U.S. auto retailer, which reported fiscal year 2021 revenue of $22.3 billion, unleash new digital services. An example is Driveway, an online site for auto sales that’s seen transactions soar from zero to 2,000 a month in the space of a year. Unusually for a tech leader, Hines has also helped lead some strategic investments at Lithia & Driveway, including a $54 million stake in digital auto retailer Shift.
Company: Carbon Health
The digital transformation of healthcare has been accelerated by Covid-19 and the work of tech leaders such as Claire Hough of Carbon Health, which raised $350 million last year at a nearly $3.3 billion valuation. The company, which operates more than 100 clinics in 16 U.S. states, also offers virtual consultations via its app and remote monitoring of patients using wearable devices. Hough’s team enabled the business to cope with an explosion in demand for Covid testing and treatment, supporting a sevenfold increase in appointments in 2021 and deploying software that halved the time it takes to record patients’ clinical data.
Company: Union Pacific Railroad
When 160-year-old Union Pacific (UP) hired its new CIO in November 2020, it brought in someone with a background in retailing rather than railroads. Rahul Jalali had spent 24 years at Walmart helping create compelling shopping experiences using advanced technology. At UP, which reported revenue of $21.8 billion last year, he’s aiming to do the same thing for shipping experiences. His team is in the final stages of developing a new digital platform that will improve on-time deliveries and make it easier for customers to see where freight is on UP’s rail network. It has also created a mobile app that’s cut the time truck drivers spend checking into UP yards and terminals by almost 90%.
Position: Chief Digital & Technology Officer
Company: Yum Brands
Forward-thinking CIOs don’t just build their own technology; they also scan the market for promising innovations—and sometimes buy companies developing them. Acquisitions have been on the menu at Yum Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill. Tech leader Clay Johnson worked with the Louisville-based group’s strategy team to identify and acquire four tech companies last year, including Tictuk Technologies, which develops marketing and ordering software, and Kvantum, an AI-based consumer insights and marketing analytics business. Thanks to these and other moves, sales through Yum’s digital channels have nearly doubled since 2019, exceeding $22 billion last year.
Position: EVP, Technology & Chief Digital Officer
Company: United Airlines
The pandemic caused a sharp descent in United’s passenger revenue, which plunged from $39.6 billion in 2019 to $20.2 billion last year. Tech leader Linda Jojo and her team have helped customers still flying cope with ever-changing vaccine and testing requirements by creating a tool on the company’s app and website that shows them what trips require and helps them find testing locations. The tool, which has verified more than 2 million Covid-19 tests and vaccine records to date, uses AI and machine learning to validate documentation. The team also created touchless kiosks to issue boarding passes and bag tags safely using the United app. These were rolled out to 300 airports in just 30 days.
Position: Chief Technology & Operating Officer
After majoring in classical languages and literature in college, Carol Juel joined consulting firm Accenture and then GE, rising to become CIO of GE Capital’s retail finance arm. In 2015 GE divested its consumer finance business, which rebranded as Synchrony. As its tech leader, Juel has masterminded $5 billion of investments in everything from cloud computing to machine learning that have helped it grow active accounts to over 72 million and revenue to $11 billion last year. Juel also invests her time in supporting talent and diversity. She is executive sponsor of the company’s women’s network and a mentor in a program to boost the diversity of Synchrony’s leadership pipeline.
Position: Chief Information & Digital Officer
Company: National Grid
U.K.-based utility company National Grid, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and on Nasdaq, serves more than 20 million U.S. customers as well as 55 million in the U.K. Adriana Karaboutis’ goal is to use advanced technology to help the business, which reported $19.5 billion in revenue last year, create an “intelligent connected utility” that efficiently manages power grids and integrates innovative energy sources. Keeping those grids safe and secure is a top priority. Her team has developed a novel digital application that combines lidar remote-sensing tech, AI and geospatial data to predict when vegetation needs to be cleared from around electricity poles, rather than waiting for physical inspections to flag issues that could cause fires or other issues.
Company: Oshkosh Corporation
Wisconsin-based Oshkosh designs and builds vehicles for military buyers and commercial uses, such as mail delivery and trash collection. As its tech leader, Anupam Khare is driving changes that improve operations at the company, which reported $7.7 billion in revenue in its latest fiscal year. His initiatives include using software bots to automate mundane tasks that would otherwise soak up 100,000-plus hours a year of employees’ time and deploying algorithms to help cut logistics costs. Khare’s team has also rolled out augmented and virtual reality training tools, and is using wearable sensors to improve safety and productivity at Oshkosh’s manufacturing plants.
Position: CTO, AT&T Technology Services
In his previous role as CTO of WarnerMedia, Jeremy Legg was involved in developing and launching streaming platform HBO Max. At AT&T, which reported 2021 revenue of $168.9 billion, he’s been busy maximizing the efficiency of its IT setup since joining in June 2020. As part of a major transformation project, Legg has retired over 1,400 applications and moved more than 1,700 to the public cloud. This will allow the telecoms giant to cut the number of data centers it operates from 34 to six by 2024. Legg’s also upgrading the skills of its 7,600-person IT workforce, which now boasts over 2,400 cloud-certified technologists.
Position: Chief Product & Technology Officer
Popular exercise-tracking business Strava has almost 100 million members who use it to record and share their runs and bike rides. One key to the success of the company, which raised a $110 million Series F round in 2020 at a valuation reportedly north of $1.5 billion, is functionality that lets people select portions of roads or trails and then compare their performance on them against that of other users. CTO Steve Lloyd has overhauled Strava’s tech infrastructure frequently to support over 30 million of these “segments” and to store more than 100 billion individual efforts linked to them. He also led a six-month revamp of Strava’s mobile apps that cut startup times by over 50%, leading to a 4% rise in Strava’s new member retention rate.
Lumentum reported record revenue of $1.7 billion in its latest fiscal year thanks to strong sales of its lasers and its optical components, which are used by telecom networks and other customers. Since becoming CIO in October 2018, Ralph Loura has replaced all of Lumentum’s factory floor systems and helped integrate Oclaro, its biggest ever acquisition. He also has a vision for much broader change. Loura’s a board member of a group that promotes standards for measuring the business value created by IT investments and chairs nonprofit SustainableIT.org, which helps tech leaders track progress on environmental, social and governance goals.
Position: Chief Information & Digital Officer
Two top traits of next-generation tech leaders are the ability to drive growth through the strategic use of software and to make entire organizations more digitally savvy. At Zoetis, which provides medicines, vaccines and diagnostics to veterinarians and livestock owners, Wafaa Mamilli and her team have helped the animal health giant grow revenue—which hit $7.8 billion in 2021—by creating an AI-powered digital assistant for U.S. sales staff that helps them decide when to call customers and what products to offer them. She has also rolled out a company-wide learning platform focused on digital knowhow. Within two weeks of launch, 1,000 of the company’s 12,000-plus staff had completed courses and over 300 new programs are in the pipeline.
Position: Chief Product & Technology Officer
When the pandemic shut down the sports and entertainment industry, Rajan Mehta had to grapple with a big challenge. Fans could no longer attend contests organized by WWE, which promotes wrestling matches and shares content via streaming services and with over one billion social media followers. Mehta’s solution: The WWE Thunderdome—an arena at the company’s Florida training facility with state-of-the-art video boards that fans’ faces appeared on during live bouts. That helped WWE hit record revenue of $1.1 billion last year and its tech chief continues to innovate, incorporating augmented reality tech in live broadcasts and supporting the company’s recently announced NFT platform.
Position: Chief Information & Digital Officer
A leading food seller and distributor to restaurants, healthcare facilities and other customers, Sysco serves more than 650,000 locations and reported $51.3 billion in revenue in its latest fiscal year. Since joining the company at the start of 2021, Tom Peck has implemented multiple digital initiatives to drive growth, including making it easier for businesses to place orders online instead of through sales consultants. Self-service orders have doubled to 70% of total local restaurant orders since early 2020, freeing up Sysco’s sales staff to grow accounts and hunt for new ones. Peck’s team also helped move it away from a general pricing model to a dynamic one that tailors offers based on sophisticated data analytics.
Position: SVP, Mondelēz Digital Services & CIO
Company: Mondelēz International
Javier Polit joined Nasdaq-listed Mondelēz International in March 2020 after serving several years as the CIO of Procter & Gamble. By using multiple computing clouds, he’s delivered over $85 million in savings so far at the snack giant and upgraded key applications such as Mondelēz’s system for turning sales prospects into customers. He’s also given business units at the company, whose revenue rose 8% last year to $28.7 billion, the ability to create new applications themselves using pre-cooked building blocks of software available in low code/no code tools.
Software bots, which automate mundane tasks, are big allies of CIOs looking to boost productivity and give employees more time to innovate. At Atlassian, a software developer that creates cloud-based tools such as Jira and Trello to help teams work more efficiently, CIO Archana Rao has deployed bots to automate employee onboarding processes and achieve other time-saving goals. The software has taken over the equivalent of 100,000 hours of manual work in the past fiscal year at Atlassian, whose 2021 revenue exceeded $2 billion.
Company: Ryder System
Supply chains have been under immense pressure during the pandemic and companies such as Ryder System have kept goods moving. The business, which reported $9.7 billion in revenue last year, provides supply-chain management and logistics services to 51,000-plus customers. CIO Rajeev Ravindran’s team helped build a digital platform that lets businesses track freight movement, cutting labor costs at some receiving docks by almost a third. It has also worked closely with the rest of Ryder’s business to co-create new capabilities. When a vendor’s fuel records system failed irretrievably, Ryder partnered with an employee who had years of experience as a fuel attendant to develop an in-house solution in less than a week.
Company: Silicon Valley Bank
Cloud computing is a critical tool in the arsenal of forward-thinking tech leaders, who can tap its on-demand capacity to spin up new offerings fast. At Silicon Valley Bank, which has $211 billion in assets, Mark Rohrwasser has taken the bank deeper into the cloud since joining as CIO in June 2020. That’s helped it bring products to market much faster, and a new digital onboarding platform has slashed the time it takes bankers to get new customers up-and-running by almost a third. To support growth at the bank, Rohrwasser has doubled the size of his team since he came on board to almost 1,000 and launched an internal training academy so that staff can hone their tech skills.
Company: Inspire Brands
Last year, privately owned Inspire Brands, which is the parent company of Arby’s, Dunkin’ and other chains, reported more than $30 billion in sales at its nearly 32,000 restaurants, with a double-digit year-over-year increase domestically. Former Walmart executive Raghu Sagi and his team have played a key role driving innovation at brands such as Buffalo Wild Wings, where since 2019 digital sales have almost doubled to nearly $1.5 billion, or 40% of total sales. The $11.3 billion acquisition of Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins in 2020 took Inspire’s total loyalty rewards members to 48 million, and Sagi’s been using AI and machine learning to serve up personalized incentives to them.
Position: Global CIO
In her three years as global CIO of Kellogg, Lesley Salmon has made the promotion of inclusivity both in and through technology a leadership priority at the 116-year-old food giant, which reported revenue of $14.2 billion last year. One example is her push to use NaviLens, which lets visually impaired people use an app to scan special codes that trigger audio explanations of information. After a successful pilot, these codes are now appearing on many of the company’s cereal boxes across Europe. Salmon also champions inclusivity in other ways, including being the executive sponsor for the LGBTQ+ employee resource group at Kellogg.
Position: Chief Digital Officer, E-commerce, Digital Marketing & IT
Company: Vista Outdoor
Earlier in his career, Bob Steelhammer was part of a small group of AT&T executives who worked with Steve Jobs to launch the first iPhone. He’s since had plenty of other experience promoting products online and draws on it in his role at Minnesota-based Vista Outdoor, which owns 39 brands including water bottle business CamelBak and ammunition manufacturer Remington. Steelhammer, who leads digital marketing and ecommerce strategy as well as overseeing IT, has created an ecosystem of tech tools and services that Vista’s brands can tap to turbocharge online sales. This helped the company boost revenue to $2.2 billion in its 2021 fiscal year, a 27% year-over-year increase.
Sustainability is a word that’s become increasingly important in tech leaders’ lexicons. Ancestry’s CTO, Sriram Thiagarajan, uses it when describing the company’s decision to shut down its Utah-based data center and move to the cloud instead, which will cut its power consumption by 548,000 kilowatt-hours a year. Obviously, cloud data centers use energy too, so those hours don’t all count as savings, but they’ll help the family history and consumer genomics business toward its goal of cutting its carbon emissions 15% by 2025. The cloud will also let Thiagarajan apply more AI and machine learning to the 30 billion-plus online records held by Ancestry, which private equity giant Blackstone bought in 2020 for $4.7 billion.
In 2020, Kevin Vasconi swapped pizzas for hamburgers, leaving Domino’s to join Wendy’s as its CIO. At his new employer, which reported $1.9 billion in revenue last year, Vasconi’s been applying a similar recipe to the one that helped digital channels at Domino’s rise to account for almost two-thirds of its U.S. sales in 2019. Among other things, he’s piloting the use of handheld point-of-sale devices to speed up ordering at Wendy’s drive-through lanes and employing AI to better predict demand for burgers, fries and other offerings. Vasconi also hosts a monthly podcast exploring thought-provoking tech topics, including how data from low-earth-orbit satellites could impact the fast-food industry.
Real estate tech company Opendoor aims to shake up the housing market. The San Francisco-based business, which launched in 2014, has handled over 140,000 transactions across the U.S, using machine learning to assess homes’ value and then make cash offers on them. It makes money through a service charge and quickly relists homes it has purchased. As cofounder and CTO, Wong and his team built its algorithmic pricing model and led the creation of its new product platform, Opendoor Complete, which increased offer requests by 48% in November 2021, the month after its launch. Opendoor’s total revenue more than doubled last year to almost $8 billion.
Company: Owens Corning
Steven Zerby is the last honoree on our 2022 list, but his approach to IT leadership reflects the first priority of cutting-edge CIOs—to fuse technology so tightly with business operations that there’s no distinction between the two. By bringing together chemists and data scientists to build predictive models, Zerby helped cut the time needed to test new composite materials for wind turbine blades from 10 days to a couple of hours. His team has also worked closely with a business unit at the $8.5 billion roofing, insulation and composite materials manufacturer to co-create a more effective, software-driven way of monitoring vapor levels in asphalt tanks for safety purposes.
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