The State of the CISO

▸ AI software reveals what's inside walls ▸ Wendy's big plans for digital sales ▸ Walmart's 1,500 data scientists ▸ CxO jobs and career moves ▸

Valuable market intelligence about digital activity & executives in corporate America.

Newsletter by journalist Mitch Betts © Ampersand Reports 2019, all rights reserved.


CISOs see progress in business support. A new survey finds that 96% of chief information security officers (CISOs) believe senior executives have a better understanding of cybersecurity than they did five years ago. And 67% said their business leaders give high priority to cybersecurity — even if it “slows some users’ productivity down.” The results are from a survey of 200 CISOs (100 in the U.S., and 100 in the U.K.) by Optiv Security Inc., a security systems integrator. More results:

  • 97% of CISOs agreed with a statement that they’re “taking a more strategic approach to cybersecurity and focusing on business risk, rather than chasing individual threats & technologies.”

  • 51% said they had experienced (and managed the recovery from) a data breach, which in some cases led to changes to their security programs and caused senior business leaders to pay more attention to cybersecurity.

  • Whereas a security breach used to be a “scarlet letter” of shame for the CISO, in this survey, 58% of the CISOs agreed that “experiencing a data breach makes a CISO more attractive to other potential employers,” not less, perhaps because they’re better-prepared to manage through a breach.

Security budgets are up, but security staffing is flat. Most IT organizations are increasing spending on security and giving that category highest priority, according to a study by Computer Economics Inc. A major growth area is using AI & machine learning to track anomalies before humans can detect them. However, the study said that “increases in spending do not necessarily lead to headcount growth, as improved technology continues to allow IT personnel to be more productive. The continued skills shortage in IT security also no doubt contributes to the moderation in security staff hiring.” On average, IT security staff members make up 2.9% of the total IT staff in 2019 — a figure that has been essentially flat for four years running.


Image: NOVO Construction via Construction Dive

‘Game-changing’ view of construction sites. Big commercial builders such as Suffolk Construction Co. and Novo Construction Inc., and commercial real-estate developer Tishman Speyer Properties, are using an AI startup’s software to create the equivalent of Google Street View — but for the inside of buildings under construction. The OpenSpace software from Open Space Labs Inc. is being used on more than $50 billion worth of projects around the world.

How it works. The software creates navigable, 360-degree photo representations of a site. To record the images, a builder attaches a small, off-the-shelf camera to his or her hardhat and walks the site, with OpenSpace capturing imagery. Imagery data is uploaded to the cloud, where algorithms map the photos to project plans and stitch them together. Data generated by OpenSpace accumulates over time, allowing construction pros to review site conditions from days, weeks, or years in the past.

The benefits. Project managers can conduct virtual site tours, and communicate with subcontractors about any problems to solve, while the timestamp keeps records organized chronologically. Most of all, OpenSpace records what’s inside walls before they’re covered. “I've had crazy-positive feedback from building engineers that this is a game-changer for them to know what’s in the walls, what’s in the ceiling,” said Novo Construction’s COO Mike Ballou. — Jenn Goodman, Construction Dive

Wendy’s has big plans for digital sales. Digital sales make up 2% of The Wendy’s Co.’s overall U.S. sales, but the fast-food company plans to grow that amount to 10% of sales by 2024, Chief Digital Experience Officer Laura Titas said during the company’s Oct. 11 Investor Day. Check sizes for mobile orders are about 20% higher than average checks, she said, and digital customers visit Wendy’s about four times more often than traditional customers do. Moreover, data collected from digital customers can improve the one-to-one customer relationship — a benefit that will be enhanced when Wendy’s introduces a loyalty program next year.

Walmart by the numbers. Walmart Inc. has roughly 1,500 data scientists and 50,000 software engineers, according to Chief Data Officer Bill Groves, and is hiring more, including a role to develop voice-activated shopping applications. Those employees help support over 100,000 machine learning or AI-based projects currently in production. For example, Walmart is rolling out AI-powered cameras to monitor for theft. Overall, Walmart has 67 data science job openings, 43 software development vacancies, and 90 available data analytics jobs, according to its careers website. The success rate for Walmart’s AI & machine-learning projects? It’s 75%, Groves said. — Joe Williams, Business Insider

Toys R Us will piggyback on Target. The reborn Toys R Us retailer will rely on Target Corp. and its website to power its e-commerce sales. New brand owner Tru Kids Inc. has relaunched the website, which includes product reviews and new toy lists, but for purchases, shoppers will be connected to product pages on Target’s website, where Target will complete & fulfill transactions.

Insurer looks for clues about opioid addiction. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. uses AI software to scan its files of workers’ compensation cases to identify people at risk of opioid addiction. The company’s algorithms look for at-risk clues such as insomnia, anxiety, a recent divorce or death — and then experienced nurses check to see if painkillers are inappropriately prescribed. (Abuse of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. workers compensation system contributes to higher claims costs borne by employers.) — Leslie Scism, The Wall Street Journal


Executive appointments, promotions, and transitions in corporate America

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. appointed Lisa Baldwin — CIO at Tiffany & Co. — as an independent member of Reliance’s board of directors.

Johnson Controls International plc named Michael (“Mike”) Ellis as EVP & Chief Customer & Digital Officer. He was Managing Director at Accenture Digital.

Honeywell International Inc. announced that Tim Mahoney — who was chief executive of Honeywell’s aerospace business for 10 years — will take on a new role as SVP for Enterprise Transformation for Honeywell overall. “Mahoney, 63, will have broad responsibilities for Honeywell Digital, the company’s global, cross-functional digitization initiative that is driving improvements in customer service and efficiency,” the company said. He will be based in Phoenix, Ariz., and report to Honeywell’s Chairman & CEO.

Dropbox Inc., based in San Francisco, announced that Bharat (“Bart”) Mediratta will join Dropbox as CTO & SVP, Platform, and Timothy (“Tim”) Young will join Dropbox as SVP & GM, Core Dropbox, effective Oct. 22. They are replacing CTO Quentin Clark (who is stepping down but will remain at Dropbox to help with the transition until Jan. 3, 2020).

At F5 Networks Inc. in Seattle, CIO Tony Bozzuti is leaving F5, a spokesperson confirmed. His successor (in late October) will be Veresh Sita, with the title Chief Digital Information Officer.

Patty Watson has left her position as CIO at TSYS (Total System Services, now part of Global Payments Inc.). Similarly, Juan Gorricho has left his position as SVP of Data & Analytics at TSYS, and will start his next (unannounced) job in December, according to LinkedIn posts.

Empower Retirement, in Greenwood Village, Colo., appointed Carol Kline as CIO, reporting to the CEO. She will lead an IT team of 850. Kline was previously CIO at Conduent Inc. and Teletech (TTEC Holdings Inc.).

International Money Express Inc., in Miami, appointed Chris Lofgren as a member of the board of directors. He had a long career at Schneider National Inc., including promotions to CIO (1996), COO (2001) and CEO (2002 until his recent retirement).
▸ Related: Lofgren’s transition from CIO to CEO

The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission named Neesha Hathi, EVP & Chief Digital Officer at Charles Schwab Corp., as a member of the new Asset Management Advisory Committee.

Equinix Inc., in Redwood City, Calif., hired Michael Montoya as Chief Information Security Officer. He held the same role at Digital Realty Trust Inc.

The XFL, based in Stamford, Conn., named David Michael as the new football league’s CTO. He was CIO at The Madison Square Garden Co.

SunTrust Banks Inc. appointed Linnie Haynesworth to the SunTrust board of directors. (Following the proposed merger with BB&T Corp., she will continue on the Truist board of directors for the new combined company.) Haynesworth recently retired from Northrop Grumman Corp., where she held executive positions related to cybersecurity and technology.

Chris Perry will expand his role from Chief Digital Officer to Chief Innovation Officer (covering innovation, data, and technology), effective January 2020, at communications firm Weber Shandwick in New York.

More appointments & promotions: ▸ Tony Spinelli, CIO at Urban One Inc. in Silver Spring, Md. ▸ Alejandro Benavides, CIO at Combined Insurance Co. of America, in Chicago ▸ Richard Cox Jr., SVP & CIO at Cox Enterprises Inc. in Atlanta ▸ Stephen Boyd, SVP of Technology, Innovation & Digital Strategy, at insurer Brown & Brown Inc. in Daytona Beach, Fla. ▸ Brian Zimmer, CTO at restaurant automation firm Brightloom in San Francisco ▸ Sarah Welcome, Chief Digital Officer at SAPinsider, an association of more than 350,000 SAP professionals, in Boston ▸ John Tabacco, Chief Digital Officer at Investview Inc. in Salt Lake City ▸ Tim Sikora, CIO at Monaker Group Inc. in Weston, Fla. ▸ Simona Rollinson, CTO at global technology association ISACA (formerly the Information Systems Audit & Control Association) in Schaumburg, Ill. ▸ Sandeep Swadia, EVP & Chief Data & Trust Officer at advertising tech vendor The Trade Desk Inc., in the New York office ▸ Jeffrey Wolniakowski, CIO at Advanced Group in Chicago ▸ Homarjun Agrahari, Chief Data Officer at Mode Transportation LLC in Dallas ▸ William Self, VP of Data Science & Analytics at H&R Block Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. ▸ Kristin Slepicka, VP of Corporate Systems at H&R Block Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. ▸ Jaimie Cole, CIO at Qmetrics Technologies in Pittsford, N.Y.


(links worked at time of publication)

Western National Mutual Insurance Co. is seeking a CIO in Edina, Minn. “Success in this role will come through a foundation of broad technical experience & expertise; demonstrated emotional intelligence (EQ); and a passion for developing highly effective work teams across multiple locations. Prior experience leading complex, transformational technology change initiatives is critically important.” The insurer offers a well-being program that includes “on-site massage, yoga classes, salad & healthy snack days, [and] sit/stand workstations.”

Kayser-Roth Corp. — an intimate apparel & hosiery manufacturer based in Greensboro, N.C. — is seeking a Chief Digital Officer. The job is to “help drive growth by converting traditional businesses to digital ones.” Responsibilities:

  • Oversee all the B2C and B2B digital commerce.

  • Identify revenue potential from digitization opportunities and driving the initiative.

  • Identify potential digitization opportunities and pain points.

  • Enhance customer (consumer & retail) satisfaction through digitization initiatives.

  • Enable employees with skills related to digitization. 

“Our beloved CIO is retiring. Are you the right executive to join our family and fill their shoes?” Uline — a family-owned distributor of shipping, industrial, and packaging materials — is seeking a CIO, reporting to the President. The company is based in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. (near Milwaukee). Perks include an “on-site café with executive chefs … first-class fitness center with complimentary personal trainers … [and] over four miles of beautifully maintained walking trails.”

Latham Pool Products Inc., in Latham, N.Y., is seeking a CIO. Will provide executive oversight of the Project Management Office, and should have “experience with M&A activity and systems integration.” 

Unibank — a bank founded in 1870 — is seeking a CIO in Whitinsville, Mass.

Hajoca Corp., in Lafayette Hill, Pa., is seeking a CIO. The company provides plumbing, heating, and industrial supplies.