Today, Bask Iyer, Dell and VMware’s CIO, was named a 2017 inductee into the CIO Hall of Fame from IDG’s CIO. This prestigious honor is bestowed upon a select group of outstanding IT executives and visionaries who have had a significant impact on the IT profession. He will officially accept his award at the CIO Hall of Fame awards ceremony in August; but I thought today’s announcement of it would be a good reason to catch up with Iyer to discuss what this means for him and his teams at Dell and VMware.
Congratulations, you were recently were named as an inductee into the CIO Hall of Fame. What does that mean to you?
Without a doubt, it’s an honor. Throughout my career, I have worked with great companies where I not only honed my skills as a CIO, but was able to push the envelope and make changes to truly evolve the IT experience. I’ve been blessed with smart, experienced IT professionals that have helped me execute on this vision, so this award is also a recognition of the teams around me.
In December, you expanded your role as VMware’s CIO to include Dell. What excites you about being part of Dell?
Long before I joined VMware, I was a Dell customer and an admirer of Michael Dell as a businessman especially for his innovations in ecommerce and the supply chain. When I think of how my IT team can digitally transform Dell and VMware, we want to take a page out of Michael’s book to help find those business opportunities that can not only be improved, but will be competitively disruptive for the company.
How are you looking to digitally transform Dell?
It’s always a delicate balance. While our business wants us to be innovative, we must also provide them with the highest performance and unwavering reliability. This year, we are focused on keeping the lights on; further integrating Dell and EMC business systems; continuing to modernize our data centers; and introducing services that enable better communication, collaboration and productivity for our team members. My team at VMware also continues to accelerate mobile experiences for our team members, enable our journey to cloud, and be the best customer possible.
What do you bring with you from your experience at VMware?
After diving into the details and learning from my staff, my first step is to empower Dell’s IT team. Because we are a technology company, our users mistakenly judge situations by their consumer experience or personal tech knowledge. However, there is a tremendous difference between your personal use and what it takes to manage an enterprise IT experience. This is what I initially encountered at VMware, and what I’m seeing at Dell. The second learning from VMware is we still have to continue to address the basics. You cannot talk strategy when some of the basics are broken. As a team we need to focus on the basics and pivot to transformation.
What are the required leadership traits to be the CIO of two companies?
I rely on my excellent leaders and IT organizations. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this expanded role. As a CIO, I must enable both organizations to run without me. That’s not to say that I’ll be delegating and dumping the responsibility on my teams. My role is to provide the vision and an encouraging and supportive environment where the team is empowered to make decisions and innovate to propel us forward. Ultimately, we are in constant pursuit of excellence for both Dell and VMware and for our customers, which requires us to have the best team in the industry.
As a new inductee to the CIO Hall of Fame, what is your advice for other IT practitioners?
Having the vision and the right technology are essential. However, that alone will not enable you to digitally transform IT and your business. You must have the best and brightest people on your team to work closely with the business to understand the approach, process and opportunity. And you have to communicate and bring your people with you on the journey. As CIO of Dell and VMware, I’m fortunate to have the right people and the right technologies at hand.