The typical CTO has to wear many hats: product-focused, partner-focused etcetera.
Dan Hushon, CTO of DXC technology, adheres to this and more. Not only does he lead the technical strategy and the execution of that strategy for his organisation, but he oversees 22 other CTOs across the regions, industries and offers that DXC encompasses.
“DXC is a transformational engineering and operations company that helps clients succeed on their digital transformations” — Hushon
His role extends from sensing what’s happening in the marketplace, timing the arrival of technologies at scale to DXC’s clients and experimenting ahead of arrivals, while communicating and strategising with his team of CTOs.
When discussing the 22 CTOs that work for him, Hushon explains that this flexes his sensing and execution function: “who is talking to the clients and how do we really understand how the different regions in the world are operating,” he explains.
“I have CTOs in industries where we have deep software capabilities. Here, we own the IP and business software assets, and we’re able to experiment with them and drive new digital business outcomes.”
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However, his responsibility does not stop there — management-wise. “My organisation is actually closer to 240 people, with 50 people in my labs working on things like quantum and neuromorphic computing, and some really interesting work around hybrid blockchain systems,” says Hushon.
“We’ve also done work in 3D printing and we led the company into its offerings around VR, AR and IoT.”
“My job is to incubate in my labs ahead of introduction into the broader company. And then my CTOs have scalable organisations underneath them that are driving innovation agendas with our account teams and clients” — Hushon
The CTO needs to become the challenger in their organisation; where they can employ technology to do things better, faster, cheaper and more sustainably. In this challenger role, it’s important that CTOs act as a disrupter and innovator against steady-state operations. There are historical, legacy personalities that exist in these steady-state operations. For example, “there can be Six Sigma people in any organisation who never want to change any systems,” says Hushon.
There may be some resistance to change, especially if their way of doing things is working: “why are we changing it?” This resistance derives from a focus on managing and mitigating risk and portends an important operating value.
To combat this type of thinking, DXC invests within the business to create proof points that then, with the right metrification and financial justification, create the opportunity to change.
What is Six Sigma? A set of techniques and tools for process improvement. It was introduced by engineer Bill Smith while working at Motorola in 1980. Jack Welch made it central to his business strategy at General Electric in 1995
What does it mean to challenge the organisation?
The digital challenge is phenomenal, because it’s not just a technology basis challenge, it’s actually an organisational structural and leadership challenge.
“As we’re beginning to bring these digital methodologies, be it agile, DevSecOps or continuous delivery (CD) right into the organisation, there’s a whole learning curve that we have to walk our executives through so that they actually understand the vocabulary on how to operate at a different pace,” says Hushon.
“And then there’s an execution curve that we walk through in order to help teams begin to scale with the right level of sponsorship and stewardship for those projects in order to underwrite success.”
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The CTO: gaining ground in organisation structure
In end user organisations, the CTO is becoming an incredibly important role. These organisations are increasingly adopting technology for a variety of reasons, and as such, need a CIO or CTO to find the right partners and integrate the technology effectively and seamlessly.
In technology companies that provide these services for end users, the CTO has been — naturally — one of the most important figureheads.
At DXC, Mike Lawrie — the CEO — and Hushon have had an ongoing collaboration for five years, which has been built on “side-by-side conversations and involvement,” says Hushon.
“I’ve got CTOs in digital insurance, digital healthcare and some in new areas surrounding travel, transportation and hospitality” — Hushon
“Our execution model at DXC is probably a little bit different from many of our competitors that run more partnership-oriented models.”
Instead, DXC run a very integrated executive team that is quite broad, but very engaged and “we drive, I wouldn’t say consensus decisions but let’s say very aware and animated discussions around different decisions that we’re going to make in order to truly understand the outcome,” says Hushon. “We make sure that everyone is tied together from an execution perspective.”
“IT in many companies needs improved knowledge sharing and collaboration with people who are operating similar technologies at scale. Our expertise that comes from the broad set of implementations and operations that we do, contributes to a de-risked execution and operational capability for our clients” — Hushon