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August 13, 2014

ITEXPO's AARP Keynoter Emphasizes That IT Staff Needs to Get Proactive

IT staffs at organizations tend to think of themselves as support teams. Instead, they need to look at things through a different lens and consider what they can be doing to drive the business at large forward.

That’s the advice from Hollis “Terry” Bradwell III, executive vice president and CIO at AARP, who gave an ITEXPO (News - Alert) keynote speech today called “Unleashing the Hidden Value of IT”.

“What I’m proposing is really not a flavor of the week,” he said. “What I’m suggesting is that this is more of a paradigm shift; that IT organizations need to start thinking this way, need to start thinking about the bottom line of their business.”

The IT staff at AARP, a membership-based organization that serves the needs of the 50-year-old-plus population, has already set out on that new course, Bradwell said.

Bradwell’s team got the idea when it noticed there was a lot of member demand at AARP events to get advice on using smartphones and tablets, and the applications and services related to them. It got this sense because long lines were forming at the small tech-related booth AARP offered at its trade shows.

But, although there was clearly demand by the 50-plus set for assistance with digital literacy, Bradwell said that digital literacy was not anywhere in AARP’s strategic plan. So his team shifted to an entrepreneurial mindset and worked to expand AARP’s Technology Education Knowledge effort to something that had been a small booth at its event, to a key part of the organization’s strategy.

TEK is now a high-touch program, through which AARP goes into communities and events to offer digital training and information. AARP now also offers content and facilitates communities through its expansive TEK online effort.

Getting IT staff to look beyond simply supporting internal needs and consider how it can help drive the business forward is becoming more and more important, said Bradwell, considering data from Gartner (News - Alert) indicating 70 percent of new revenue streams created by organizations these days result from technology enablement.

Edited by Adam Brandt

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