Washington Post CIO on Tech's Pros and Cons


I've been hearing a lot of talk and emphasis on technology's role in building a strong corporate culture. (I'm pretty sure it's because everybody read our recent interview with Google CIO Ben Fried, who has some great thoughts on the matter.)

A big (obvious) part of making IT an integral part of the culture is to get people to embrace technology. I spoke recently with Washington Post Co. CTO Yuvi Kochar, who's seen some uptick in this at his company, but also recognizes some obstacles that emerge with this growing interest.

Kochar says he's seen accelerated adoption of consumer-focused technologies in his company, beginning in the executive suite. Many of the Washington Post Co.'s top people are using iPhones and have Facebook pages, Kochar says, and he credits those executives with taking the initiative. "We do some education, but we've found that many of our executives have found their own way (to these technologies)," he says.

But there's probably something to be said for his team's efforts in contributing to the growing IT savvy at WashPost. For instance, Kochar says he has more business analysts meeting with business stakeholders on "their level, their turf," and that most of the projects his IT shop undertakes begin with direct interaction with the business.

But like many CIOs, the increase in IT awareness can be a mixed blessing for Kochar. "There's a better grasp, but there's also some unrealistic expectations," he says. The disconnect is often because of their use of consumer technologies. "Some say, 'If it's so easy to just buy a book on Amazon, why can't I just (fill in the blank)?'

"(Some people) don't understand how it can be so easy on the consumer side but not even close when it touches the enterprise side," Kochar says. "Security and privacy and some of the management challenges prohibit us from doing some things as quickly as they occur in the wide-open consumer space."

See also: Kochar's take on cloud computing.

What's the dynamic at your company? Are more business executives becoming IT savvy? What pros and cons come with that?


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