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An Opportunity to Focus on Transparent IT resources and Dollars

By Kim Barrier, VP & CIO, Amy's Kitchen

Kim Barrier, VP & CIO, Amy's Kitchen

Role of a CIO Today

Today, a CIO is first and foremost a business leader. Secondly, they should know a lot about technology and how to leverage it to support the business. A big part of my job is to solve problems across several business areas. A good example is the Amy’s website that was redesigned over the past year. Our IT group worked closely with the marketing department and others to implement a quality site.

How can the CIOs make their business counterparts think differently about the importance of IT?

I work with the business to help them understand that IT is not a silo organization; rather it is part of the fabric of the company and it enables their business processes. We are their business partner and help to solve their business problems. At Amy’s, I have an IT Business Partner assigned to each of the major functional groups. They are the point person for that area of the business and understand their overall strategy as well as their goals and objectives for the year. We also have an IT Steering Committee comprised of Business Executives, and my direct reports who help to govern what we do so that our efforts are aligned with the business. It also gives us the opportunity for transparency to where the IT resources and dollars are being focused. We make decisions together.

"You don't necessarily have to have everything in the cloud; you just need the right fit for every part of your organization"

As the technology sphere evolves with each passing day, what are some of the latest trends that are gripping your mind?

Cybersecurity is a big one. Being able to protect vital company assets is a priority. With the movement to the cloud for key services, it is important to ensure our vendors also have the highest security standards. We look at vendor partnerships for the long term and those that have a proven track record in their security practices. We also conduct periodic vendor audits and try to cut down on the number of managed service providers that we use.

How can the evolving technologies help Enterprise Networking overcome the challenges?

It’s important to provide solutions that are easy to implement, and of course offer lower total cost of ownership. A lot of companies implement several cloud-based solutions, but they're disjointed. You don't necessarily have to have everything in the cloud; you just need the right fit for every part of your organization.

Amy’s makes more than 250 products, and has more than 2,000 employees. So IT has to consider every step of what goes into bringing these to our customers—from the payroll to the technology in the plants to the time clock system to the website we just redesigned, to consumer relations fielding customer questions, you have to be aligned. We have to prioritize what will move the needle—what will make manufacturing move faster? Time, money, and people are finite resources, after all.

What is your advice for the upcoming or budding CIOs?

I think it’s essential to be business-minded. IT sees how every part fits together, including sales, marketing, manufacturing, and finance. Business savvy CIOs have a huge advantage.