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Getting into the mind of a Fortune 500 CIO: Bask Iyer, CIO and GM, IoT at VMware

Bask Iyer, CIO and GM, IoT at VMware in conversation with Seemantini Godbole.


A 30 year stellar career which began in Bangalore. Back then, his landlord had once suggested that instead of paying rent, if he would consider buying the house.  The point here is that 3 decades back it was inconceivable that the city of Bangalore (Bengaluru?) would achieve an iconic status. It resonated with what Kris Gopalakrishnan said about the city and its growing opportunities, the previous day at the summit.

For VMware, Virtualization was something the company had both enjoyed and suffered. “Suffered”, because VMware does much more than Virtualization and yet “enjoyed” because that is what put the company in global reckoning. One of the few companies which revolutionized the idea of Cloud Computing in its early days. A company which has been very successful in straddling the world of software-defined data centres, to truly leverage the blurring line between hardware and software.

IT infrastructure requires huge investment not just in terms of money but mindshare, equally. In a SaaS world where much is outsourced, “things should be simple but not any simpler” said Bask. Which is to imply that though the CIO has been relieved of mundane functions to free up his time, and it would still have to be expended judiciously to ace latest technologies and remain ahead in the game. A tech company better be good or risk being found out.

On Millennials and Women in Technology

CIOs learn over a long period of time and it is not just about technology alone but the business aspect as well in equal measure. He invests a lot of time mentoring millennials and women in technology and impresses upon them that it is equally important to unlearn old stuff and learn new skills, and it is a continual process in a CIOs career. Millennials today will not work for bosses who “bark orders” unlike his time earlier. It is a very good thing, but at the same time given this flexibility, the generation needs to realise that it isn’t about working for money alone but about leveraging talent to work for a cause.

And, most importantly, the talent has to be authentic.

When it comes to hiring women in technology, unconscious biases are often at interplay. Organisations have to be very clear that both hiring and promotions have to be based on meritocracy alone and not about maintaining a gender diversity balance. Right now there aren’t too many women in technology in the position of Vice President, as much as there are women CEOs. That is an area where organisations need to work hard and ensure that women are not left out in top tech jobs. He also stressed on the need to do away with corporate doublespeak. For instance, if the industry needs engineers and coders then so be it; and make it clear instead of resorting to obfuscations like “STEM” education.

Evolving Role of the CIO 

Their roles have to evolve beyond managing data centres alone, and would also entail advising internal customers about which products to buy. It can’t only be about the geeky type any longer, and has to be coupled with a strong understanding of business as well. As the value of the CIO improves, so does that of the CEO in terms of getting the right advice in investment in technology. The CIO has to be clear on what kind of maturity levels they seek – is it A, A plus or B, for instance. End user productivity and financial muscle would entail the kind of investment that would be required. At no time should the CIO be concerned about satisfying an individual’s ego in the organisation.  He also spoke about security issues which come in the wake of BYOD and the CIO has to remain constantly vigilant. Despite the need to evolve digitally, it is still observed that a major chunk of enterprise communication continues to happen over email and SMS.

Want more blogs, session updates, videos and discussions from NASSCOM Product Conclave, 2016, Bangalore? Use the hashtag npc2016  and find them all.

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