“AI is foundational to every one of our best-of-breed data management capabilities, and an AI engine, CLAIRE, powers our metadata-driven Intelligent Data Management Cloud – Informatica’s comprehensive data management platform.”
Hi, Graeme. Welcome to our Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your role and responsibilities at Informatica. How did you arrive at the company?
I joined Informatica in 2016 from Oracle, where I was the VP of Global IT. The timing of the opportunity was great because Informatica had just been taken private and had an aggressive transformation journey ahead of it. It was going to be a big lift to transform our business model and support business processes, and there was a clear opportunity for the IT organization to play a significant role in making it happen.
I am Informatica’s Chief Information Officer, which means I am responsible for our global team of IT professionals and all areas of traditional IT, from operations and end user services to application and architecture. Additionally, I am responsible for Information Security and Governance Risk and Compliance, in addition to the Chief Data Officer function. In a software company, if your job is not to build the product, sell the product or support our customers, then your job is to support those who do it and, by extension, the thousands of customers we serve.
What are the biggest challenges in the current portfolio of a CIO? How do you tackle these challenges at Informatica?
Just the changing nature of the role itself; speed of change is at the fastest it has ever been in history, but will never be this slow again. The days of CIOs being pure technologists are long gone. Technology is so democratized now, it is highly likely people on your teams and within your organization know more about specific tech assets than you do. As much time as we spend managing physical technology infrastructure – counting laptops, scaling storage – we need to invest equal time and energy into what the digital assets of the future will be and begin to lay the framework.
As a leading tech company, in a tech role, change is always around the corner. That is why one of the larger hats I wear as CIO is that of change agent, or Chief Inspiration Officer, as I have heard it referred to. How do we continue to inspire people to embrace change, to execute change, and make personal sacrifices and emotional buy-in to make change stick? Without the ability to navigate this successfully, the chances of meeting our longer-term aspirations and staying a stride ahead of competitors becomes increasingly difficult.
CIOs have a unique perspective because we see how business functions and processes work together to deliver business outcomes. At our most effective, we can use that cross-company perspective to deliver on cross-functional initiatives that drive superior outcomes for our company and for our customers.
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Enterprises are constantly wrestling against traditional user cases and data management models to meet financial goals. What is the correct approach to offset this strategy?
One way to look at this is what I call local optimization versus global optimization. Every business function relies on data to run its operation and measure performance. Moving up the maturity scale, many business functions embrace predictive analytics to act before a problem arises or to act as a leading indicator of a business goal.
That is all fine. But the problem that the traditional, old, siloed way of doing things creates is it assumes the sum of the functional parts equals the end result that the company, or its customers, need. That might work in a steady state but how many companies are in steady state these days?
It is much more likely you are trying to change, improve, or transform, which typically requires a cross functional and outside-in view of performance. As soon as data is used across more than one function, everything changes. You can no longer assume a singular understanding of what the data means because users of the data are not experts in the process or the applications used to create it. Without this context, it is impossible to share data across functions – so, what do you do?
Step 1: Commit to a common data warehouse. This solves only one problem – it puts the jumble of data in one place – like consolidating your photos in a cloud folder. They still have useless names, you still can’t find the ones you want, and it is impossible to share them with family members.
Step 2: Implement a governance model. Don’t be scared – this does not mean a years-long science project. It just means you must commit to define the data and what it means, define common terms and calculations, and track the lineage of the data so you know where it came from. From there you will create a common data model that can be used repeatedly by both IT and business users with confidence that it means what you think it means. This may lead to a data marketplace where end business users can grab the data they need with confidence that it’s safe to use.
Once you complete steps 1 and 2 you can start to augment the data you have inside your company with data available outside. This may come from social or paid third party sources.
This level of maturity is not cost prohibitive to achieve. It may be constrained more by culture and mindset as much as it is by cost and technology.
How do you use AI and machine learning capabilities within your organization? How has AI made your work easier?
Our goal at Informatica is to help customers bring their data to life, and this is really rooted in our ability to deliver them trusted, reliable data. Without quality data and metadata, the predictive insights and recommendations that make AI/ML so valuable are at best useless and at worst detrimental.
AI is foundational to every one of our best-of-breed data management capabilities, and an AI engine, CLAIRE, powers our metadata-driven Intelligent Data Management Cloud – Informatica’s comprehensive data management platform. CLAIRE currently leverages 18 petabytes of metadata and processes 53 trillion transactions per month, a 91% increase from just a year ago.
With CLAIRE at the wheel, data management becomes smarter, faster, and more efficient, and data becomes more accessible to line of business users beyond traditional technical and IT roles like data engineers and data scientists. So, it’s not an exaggeration to say that every use case our customers lean on Informatica’s products and platform to perform – from inventory management and regulatory compliance to border security and healthcare outcomes – CLAIRE is at work.
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Security frameworks are proving to be a costly addition to modern enterprise data integration models. Could you please explain what is the best way to integrate security within existing IT architecture without blowing the budget?
Invest in a data management solution that has data security, privacy, and governance built in as a foundational layer. In today’s digital landscape, it is irresponsible for data security to be considered an afterthought. We’ve all seen the stats of the astronomical amounts to resolve data breaches, not to mention serious legal consequences from the growing number of data-related regulations and the significant reputational damage that can occur as a result.
Bolting on a bespoke security solution to an existing framework can not only be costly, but the hassle and headache to ensure it integrates seamlessly may still leave you exposed.
At its simplest point, you cannot secure data if you do not know where it resides, who has access to it, and where it is moved and used.
Security can also be an enabler, though. Think about the power of having trusted, role-based security in your data warehouse that inherits security from the source application. Or, more commonly, for data from multiple sources, the ability to assign consumers to a group and control access based on what group they belong to opens up a whole new set of opportunities. Think about the ability to take a global sales report and replicate it down throughout a sales hierarchy so every manager has the same view as the Chief Risk Officer, but only for the accounts they are responsible for.
Your take on security awareness training for employees using cloud resources: what kind of resources do you provide to your customers and partners? What role do you play as a CIO in such training workshops/ initiatives?
Security awareness training is a key component of Informatica’s risk management program. These days, most enterprises have properly deployed technical solutions to mitigate common security risks, so the weakest link is often the human one. In addition to training, we do simulated phishing and tabletop exercises to test our ability to prevent and respond to security incidents.
Our customers depend on Informatica to protect their data. We work hard to maintain regional and industry certifications for privacy and data protection, as well as SLAs for product availability, to make sure we are working in partnership with our customers’ security and procurement organizations to satisfy their needs. Many of our customers are in healthcare and financial services as well as the public sector, so we are accustomed to a high bar to achieve customer trust.
Beyond making sure our critical assets are secure and our employees are educated on their responsibilities, my team also helps the product team with compliance and their own risk management.
A CIO / CISO that you would like to see featured in our Interview Series –
John Abel @ Extreme Networks. He has a very entertaining take on how suppliers should and should not interact with CIOs.
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An event/ conference or podcast that you have subscribed to consume information about B2B technology industry: If invited, would you like to be part of a podcast episode on Cloud migration and IT SaaS?
Peter High’s technovation and CIO podcasts are great.
Thank you, Graeme ! That was fun and we hope to see you back on cioinfluence.com soon.
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Graeme Thompson is the CIO of Informatica, responsible for the worldwide IT, information security and data governance functions. In his role, he leads the ongoing enhancement of the company’s IT infrastructure and applications in support of the growth and transformation of the company.
Prior to joining Informatica in 2016, he was VP of global IT, end user services at Oracle where he led a global team with end-to-end responsibility for all internal, user-facing enterprise IT services at Oracle. Prior to Oracle, he was vice president and CIO at BEA Systems and vice president, Supply Chain at Riverstone Networks.
Graeme graduated with distinction from the University of Paisley in Scotland with a bachelor of arts in Business Economics with Marketing.
Informatica, an Enterprise Cloud Data Management leader, brings data to life by empowering businesses to realize the transformative power of their most critical information. We have pioneered a new category of software, the Informatica Intelligent Data Management Cloud (IDMC), powered by AI and an end-to-end data management platform that connects, manages and unifies data across any multi-cloud, hybrid system, democratizing data to modernize and advance their business strategies. Customers in more than 100 countries and 85 of the Fortune 100 rely on Informatica to drive data-led digital transformation. Informatica. Where data comes to life.