CIO Branndon Kelley of American Municipal Power gives his view of IT personnel challenges in a Q&A interview. He discusses generation gaps, innovation versus reliability and leadership issues.
The following is an abridged version of a lengthier interview with Branndon Kelley, CIO at American Municipal Power, which runs in the September/October 2011 issue of Intelligent Utility magazine. The magazine will be in mailboxes this week and the issue's articles will appear online in coming days.
Intelligent Utility: What are the workplace and personnel issues you deal with as a CIO?
Kelley: IT in general is experiencing a generation gap between the so-called "Millennials" who are just starting in the workforce, really gung-ho and very optimistic about the technology, and the more seasoned workforce that wants to be sure that things work and are thorough in testing. You need new ideas as much as you need the discipline. Yet when you bring those two mindsets together at the table it can create real conflict.
To be competitive, in my department, we have to embrace new technology such as hosted services, software-as-a-service and "the cloud," potentially. Even when the right security measures are in place, seasoned IT people may be against that. Yet we cannot just walk into these new technologies blindly. As we lose seasoned IT people, that concerns those of us in charge of the integrity of systems.
We need to find a happy medium. It's really up to leadership to lead the charge.
Intelligent Utility: Workers, their tools and the work environment have all changed. The IT department has to support a mobile workforce, sometimes with 24/7 responsibilities.
Kelley: That's right. People want to bring their own devices to the organization—smartphones, tablets, every gadget possible in order to do their job—and their workday may be eight hours, but it's strung out across various locations. So it's up to CIO leadership to respond and provide secure support. That's driving what I call the "consumerization of IT."
Intelligent Utility: Personal computing and personal communications have certainly changed expectations, haven't they?
Kelley: When I got into IT in 1999