CIO 100 Leaders Predict 5 Cloud Trends



CIO100 Leaders are not trying to stay ahead of the curve. We don’t try to understand how to one-up our competition or business neighbor; we are creating the future and not looking back. We enable teams, remove mental limits of what is possible and unlock the unknown future experience. Below is a glimpse into trends I believe are taking place, everywhere, all around us.


What is Cloud?


Define cloud. Seriously, if a colleague asked you to define and explain cloud what approach would you take? How would you communicate the volume and intensity of this change we are talking about? Allow me to take a shot.


Image a world where there was no need to buy anything. Everything you needed you could rent. At first there was an option to buy or rent. However, eventually there was only an option to rent; buying cost too much. You could rent for $1 or buy for $3. Who would buy? No one, exactly! The equivalent impact on retail specifically, would be that every shirt, pants, jacket you purchased from this moment onward was only rented. There was no value in buying. This is the impact of cloud across virtually all industries. The scale is hard to describe accurately.


What is this cloud thing? How do you describe it to a CEO, CFO or your board? This is challenging. It’s like trying to describe the taste of a falafel or explaining the taste of bourbon to a friend who never before tried it. It is challenging.


Cloud changes how your business creates and shares value.


Cloud Reshapes

Cloud will reshape your business. Cloud is not just, a computer next door. That’s like explaining the impact of the printing press as ‘just adding more books.’ Cloud technology enables faster business processes. When Harold Leavitt and Thomas Whisler coined the term “information technology” back in 1958, they envisioned ‘IT’ would change the landscape of organizations. Cloud is blurring the lines between IT and business. Cloud is merging the roles of “expert” and “user.” The role of the IT department is no longer defined by ‘people that deal with technology.” If that is how your organization defines IT today, you are missing out. You are missing the opportunity.


Your organization is either moving forward, or losing traction. There is no middle. Either today is putting you in a better place for tomorrow, or it’s not. Decide every day. Is your company making strategic and tactical decisions to empower your clients for tomorrow? Is your company investing in non-traditional business opportunities? Your competition is. It’s hard running a company looking over your shoulder, to see if you have lost the lead.


CIO100 Leaders transform companies reassessing, shifting value, moving resources, rethinking old paradigms and building new value.  Lead don’t follow. Engage the 1% of leadership to ensure your organization is a leader.


Non-Traditional Payment Schemes

As consumer behavior changes so does the process to pay for goods and services. STOP. You’re thinking about retail right, like a Macy’s, Nordstrom, or the Target’s of the world. We are talking about those but we are also talking about all industries. Healthcare online and point of sale purchases will shift as consumers demand your business to interact differently. The service industry will see impacts too. Imagine a totally interactive experience at AutoZone that extends beyond just car service. This experience doesn’t end when you leave the store. It follows you, why? Because you’re engaged, you interact, you want to share and communicate your experiences to others.


Unlikely Allies

Unlikely businesses will partner out of survival. We saw this globally with North Korea and Germany. Nationally with FOX and ESPN, Home Depot and The Weather Channel, and with the partnership of AC/DC and Warburn Estate. ‘Highway to Hell’ and one of Australia’s best wineries? This matters. It matters to you because they deliver on what people enjoy.


Shifting Customer Preferences

As customers shift their preferences, companies must just shift their focus. Businesses must realign as networks not departments. While we can theorize from management gurus like John Kotter and David C Aron that network organizational structure provides agility, we know there is more to this formula to exponentially increase value. The idea of smaller teams or squads that split expertise can deliver quicker. We have exceeded the expert’s expectations. Build teams that are as much identified by their own skills as by their relationships with industry and internal business groups inside the company.


Enter the network effect. In economics and business, a network effect (also called network externality or demand-side economies of scale) is the effect that one user of a good or service has on the value of that product to other people. First presented by Theodore Vail, president of Bell Telephone in 1908. Dusted off by Metcalfe, a co-founder of 3-com and co-inventor of the Ethernet. According to Metcalfe, the rationale behind the sale of networking cards was that (1) the cost of the network was directly proportional to the number of cards installed, but (2) the value of the network was proportional to the square of the number of users. Huh, I thought were talking about value? Restated more simply and expanded a bit, there is a direct correlation between the number of users and their level of collaboration and the value of a network. This is the different between Facebook today, and a company with the exactly model but just two users signed up. It’s the same business, but the value created is not equal.


Fungibility of Cloud Services

Cloud services are not a commodity today. You probably think they are, but they are not. They are not the same, and they are not fungible. Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution. That is, it is the property of essences or goods which are “capable of being substituted in place of one another.  If your business was on Azure (Microsoft’s cloud) and you wanted to move your business to Amazon Web Services (AWS), it would not be seamless and would take careful considering of capabilities comparisons, performance, pricing and a pile of legal documents on liability terms to get there. Cloud service offerings are not fungible today and can’t be swapped without impacting service quality. The day when that is not the case is close. Your business needs to be ready. Your business can’t compete without leveraging cloud services. Do you have a migration plan to be 60% cloud based, 80% cloud based 100% cloud based? You should.


Using these principles and the belief that we could create a healthier tomorrow we launched digital mobile enrollment for healthcare.  Only one month after the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange launched on Oct 1, 2013, supporting the Affordable care Act, we envisioned a better customer experience. This experience would engage customers, change how information was accessed and revolutionize the experience of buying health insurance. Six months later we released our mobile application, the first application to allow consumers to fully enroll in healthcare from a mobile device. It was a national first within both the public and private exchanged. This was the first step toward digitizing healthcare. Honored as a 2015 CIO100 winner, the heart of digital leadership is consumerism – don’t think like a customer be the customer. Thank you to everyone that made the 2015 CIO100 possible. You all know who you are, and you’re amazing. It was a privilege to digitize healthcare and transform the consumer experience and learn from you all.



Peter Nichol

Below highlights our amazing innovation story, transforming business through digitization.


Building on the already successful Connecticut online health insurance exchange, Access Health CT (ahCT) took the next step to build the only mobile platform available nationally that consumers can use for enrolling in health coverage, obtaining government benefits, accessing their account information and submitting their verification documents. It uses a scalable, software-as-a-service platform to keep costs and risks low. The ahCT Mobile apps are fully integrated with the ahCT Web portal for real-time synchronization and an improved consumer experience. The Android and iOS mobile apps are built for speed, reducing the average health insurance and benefits application time from traditional Web channels by more than half to 10 to 15 minutes. Once enrolled, consumers can use the mobile app to check their messages, receive notices and submit verification documents using the camera on their mobile devices. Other states are inquiring about using the mobile platform for their health insurance exchanges.

PROJECT TYPE: Cloud Computing Services or Software as a Service (SaaS), Mobile or Wireless, Security Technologies

BUSINESS GOAL: Customer Impact

CIO: Peter Nichol, Head of IT


Read the full story of the digitization and launch of the Connecticut Mobile application: Part 1 and Part 2.

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Peter is a healthcare business and technology executive, recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to on innovation. As Head of Information Technology, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.