04 cio summit 2018

Rackspace CTO Lee James says a CIO's biggest challenges in 2019 will centre on security, the rapid rate of release of new technologies, and scaling up operations.

James was speaking to CIO UK contributor Cristina Lago - also Online Editor of CIO Asia - at the 2018 CIO Summit event held at the Shangri-La Hotel in the Shard in London.

Having earlier given a talk focused on organisational culture at Rackspace, with CIO UK James discussed what he had taken from the day's events, his main challenges in 2019, and his most pressing question for CIOs about artificial intelligence.

"What was really interesting for me today is we - myself and Rackspace - presented on culture, but it's actually how many others discussed culture within their organisation, and how they're using culture to drive transformational change within their organisation," James said.

"I'll take a great deal away today in terms of learnings and lessons in terms of how to drive transformation forward, and using an organisation and a culture to do that."

James also spoke at length about the challenges he foresees in 2019, starting with the rapid pace of technological change in workplaces today.

"There's so much technology to take advantage of, and it's coming from many different business units, not just the IT unit," he said. "How do I keep control? How do I manage all that technology change? And how do I have an organisational model set up to take advantage of it, especially when iterative release is coming through thick and fast?

"The second one for me is around security. With so many services now being used from the cloud or in-house or from different partners, how do I keep control and be secure around data? Especially as we're gaining more and more insight from data, around areas such as hyper-personalisation, I'm really having to be very sensitive about the security of that data, and where that data is seen and touched, and which systems it's fed into.

"The third one for me is how do I scale my operations, in support of demand from the business? So if you look at multi-cloud solutions for Google and AWS and Azure for example - how do I leverage those but how do I keep cost control? And how do I align them to my business priorities too?"

CTO James also shared what he thinks would be valuable to question CIOs on in CIO UK's upcoming report on AI. He said: "I think the number one question is 'what does artificial intelligence mean to you?'

"I think we're still in that situation where it means many different things to different people. Some people associate artificial intelligence with machine learning, others associate it directly with analytics, others associate it with mimicking a human being for example, so I think just that simple question: 'In your industry, what does artificial intelligence mean to you?'"