Why Unifying Data Is A CIO’s Top Job

More and more data is emerging for companies across the globe. How you handle it is key to an enterprise’s growth, says Convergint CIO Bhuvana Badrinathan.

Convergint, a global firm that manufactures electronic security, cybersecurity, fire alarm and life safety systems, has been on a technology-focused path since Bhuvana Badrinathan became CIO in 2019.

She has created the company’s first data teams, launched a new ERP system—and navigated the complexities of operating under Covid.  Badrinathan, who is based in Chicago, talked with StrategicCIO360 about Convergint’s IT initiatives, why the company’s “values and beliefs” are foundational and how to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

How has the role of the CIO shifted this past year, and are you currently doing anything differently in your day-to-day?

The technology industry and companies across the globe are currently experiencing a convergence—the Internet of Things, services, data and people—enabling organizations to communicate across multiple systems and platforms. As a result, a tremendous amount of complexity and business intelligence is developing, creating more opportunities for CIOs in the future to unify data from multiple sources and identify ways businesses can strategically apply and benefit from an operational and business outcome perspective.

From an operational perspective, I have become busier, especially as we are launching a new ERP system—but the core of what I do in my role at Convergint, my day-to-day, has not shifted much. Our business and culture were built with no boundaries, only our V’s and B’s—our values and beliefs—which are the foundational fabric of our organization created 20 years ago.

Because of this, our IT department works together from a growth, efficiency and transformation perspective while always putting our best foot forward, both internally and externally, to uphold our commitment to being our customers’ best service provider. When we seek an answer or are looking for guidance, we turn to our values and beliefs—it’s an organizational structure and model that has allowed us to evolve and grow.

Digital transformation initiatives have significantly increased throughout Covid. What initiatives have you launched within your organization, and what was your strategy?

There are two significant initiatives that I pursued through our organization to help us achieve digital transformation: the first is our latest enterprise resource planning implementation, and the second is the initiation of a data team. When I first joined Convergint in 2019, we did not have a formal data team or data scientists, which was a bit surprising because the heart of what we do at Convergint relies solely on our customer service—something driven by data—especially today. Data is something that businesses need to streamline operations and create stronger teams, which help drive better business outcomes and customer satisfaction.

So, I set out to establish a data governance and data steering committee. While we may be in the early stages of it, the new ERP system is probably the most significant technology initiative we currently have in motion. It is also our most disruptive. Being our customers’ best service provider is our primary goal—this is where our company thrives. Launching this system will allow us to unlock data and utilize it as business intelligence, increasing our response times and operational efficiencies across our entire organization, benefiting colleagues and customers. 

Convergint embodies a culture-first community centered on colleagues and is heavily committed to being their customers’ best service provider. In what ways has your company’s mission influenced your leadership style, and how has it helped you succeed?

Our culture is the most critical aspect of our company. Whether it be at the executive level or with our frontline colleagues, every decision must align with our values and beliefs. They guide us collectively as an organization to make the best decisions on behalf of our customers, colleagues and communities. It’s an accepting, exciting culture, empowering people to do their best daily with no boundaries, only guiding principles.

This approach has enabled me to empower others and explore new opportunities for our business across the organization. I’ve always had a passion for mentoring and helping colleagues develop to become who they aspire to be—all of which is supported by our values and beliefs.

What advice do you have for future leaders as they enter into the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

This past year, IT teams scrambled to speed up deployments, learn new technologies, and identify ways to adapt to a forced “new normal.” Technology quickly became the most critical function for companies—from a B2B and B2C perspective. Its capabilities are years beyond what we expected at this time, and now we are currently living in what many individuals refer to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We won’t turn off technology, and we certainly are not going back. Instead, it will continue to evolve, new use cases will transpire across the enterprise and every component of our daily lives. As a result, there will continue to be a tremendous amount of data available, allowing businesses to make strategic, data-informed business decisions to improve experiences and streamline operational efficiencies. Whether you’re looking to become a CIO or not, technology skills will be critical in the path forward. I encourage all future leaders never to stop learning or growing.

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