The job of the CIO is more challenging—and more promising—than ever.

The convergence of cloud, mobile, big data analytics and IoT has led to a dramatic increase in complexity, disrupted legacy IT infrastructures, and escalated fears over data security. To keep pace with digitally empowered employees, business ecosystems and customers alike, IT leaders are re-thinking the way business is done in today’s digital economy.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. According to MIT Sloan research, organizations that successfully adapt in today’s digital world are 26 percent more profitable than their industry peers, driving new levels of productivity and efficiency.

A few short weeks ago, IT leaders from Exelon, Morgan Stanley and New York-Presbyterian shared insights and lessons learned from their decision to say YES to Digital Business on the main stage at Citrix Synergy 2016 with Citrix President and CEO, Kirill Tatarinov. Though they each herald different industry sectors, each company shared some common threads for digital business transformation.

Here’s what we learned:

Outstanding Experience is Job #1

The convergence of Cloud, Mobile, and Big Data has dramatically increased employee and customer expectations for engagement and experience. Savvy organizations recognize that these technologies can also be harnessed to create a new, real-time and informed engagement models that deliver superior experiences at affordable costs.

Four years ago, the IT organization at New York-Presbyterian (NYPH), one of the nation’s most comprehensive healthcare delivery networks, took bold steps to raise its employee engagement scores from 30 percent to 90 percent by “pivoting from an internal-facing team to an external facing team.”

The result has been greater healthcare worker productivity and a new, digitally enabled model for patient care.

We got away from being back office support people and really got to know the business better and spent time with our clinicians to really understand what the workflow was and where there were opportunities for IT to come in and complement the business. —  Christine Ooro Singh, Director of Customer Experience

“We asked ourselves a very simple question: ‘How can we deliver a high-touch, high-tech experience to our patients?’ Our customers understand that IT is ready and available to support walk-ins and their mobile devices. A patient can come in and we’ll give them an in-service patient tablet. Or they may bring in their own device and we’ll give them the tools and capabilities that say, ‘Your support team, your family members, this is how they can reach you. This is how you can locate and navigate our great organization. This is how we can communicate your wellness plan.’ I think that is really what will make us well connected with our patient population and the community as a whole.”                                 

Reducing Costs and Innovation Can Coexist

Today’s companies face tremendous pressure to do more with less.

In response to the digital business imperative, Exelon Corporation, a FORTUNE 150 energy company with more than 34,000 employees, set out to digitize its business, not only saving millions of dollars, but dramatically improving workforce productivity, engagement and satisfaction. Using virtualization, mobility and file sharing, Exelon transformed its IT services model to deliver a robust, secure end experience to office, field and plant workers across the company.

“It’s my job to look at the Cloud, look at the new technologies, whether that be mobile, unified communications, even all our existing infrastructure and figure out how to maximize the value of what we can deliver and how to lower our cost at the same time,” explained Jay Cavalcanto, Vice President of Cloud and Infrastructure Engineering for Exelon.

One of the best ways we can do that is really simplify our delivery platform….our goal is to stop thinking about space as a fixed asset. Start thinking about space as a tool to do your job. So whether that be a private room, a writable surface, a collaborative space, whatever it is, allow us to enable that space to be whatever you need at the given moment.

In 2015, Exelon was recognized for becoming the first commercial nuclear power plant to digitize maintenance processes, workflows and documentation, earning the nuclear industry’s highest innovation award by the Nuclear Energy Institute. Its Electronic Work Package solution replaces paper with a digital process for creation, management, monitoring and storing work packages to enhance worker safety, efficiency and productivity during plant maintenance.

Business Agility is Pivotal for Managing Growth & Expansion

Traditional industry boundaries and long-held business models are tumbling down, paving a path for entirely new growth prospects. Whether a company is expanding its footprint through mergers and acquisitions, extending its reach through mutually beneficial ecosystem partnerships, or integrating products and services into new industry solutions, the ability to quickly identify and seize new opportunities is a critical success factor in today’s digital world.

“New York-Presbyterian sees over two million patients a year. With our five acquisitions in the last year, NYPH has become a $7B operating healthcare delivery system essentially overnight,” said New York-Presbyterian’s Ooro. “Tracking a patient’s flow through this great organization is a very complex problem. What we need is for information to be digitally available to our staff and our patients in real-time wherever possible. But in order for that to happen, we must become successful at having strategic partners and ISVs that can support an open architecture. With that kind of freedom, that is really what allows for seminal moments to occur between the business and IT.

“So, we had a recent acquisition, and we had a requirement to provide the remote site access to our radiology CAP lab system. This is a system that typically requires these very specific high-end PCs with graphic cards. Instead of going through the procurement process and limiting the clinicians to just these specific PCs, we delivered a secure mobile workspace of New York Presbyterian enterprise applications to the users just in one day.”

As Executive Director, Global Head of EUC Cross-Discipline Strategy & North American Head of Workspace Engineering, Joe Verderame is responsible for “architecting workspaces of the future” for Morgan Stanley. With 42 locations around the world and 56,000 employees, Morgan Stanley’s wealth management business alone has $2 trillion under management. The company has a large infrastructure footprint in technology: a total of 150,000 desktops, including 35,000-plus mobile devices and 50,000-plus desktops being delivered through some variation of hosted computing.

Keeping up [with] technology will enable our business to hit those emerging platforms, those emerging markets, and do what the business is about – make money for our investors.

“We’re in countries all over the world. And because of that, we’re exposed to what feels like ever-changing regulations and barriers. But I strongly believe that as those barriers change and in some ways they actually break down, we’re going to be in a unique position to enable the business and the workforce through leveraging the technology investments we have, whether that’s to mobilize the workforce or just to bring them closer together with their clients,” said Verderame.

“As an example, [our] wealth management business was built out of a joint venture with Smith Barney. That was 800 branches across the United States, 35,000 desktops. And it took a really innovative strategy to make that happen. [A] high-fidelity VDI platform was critical to allowing us to enable that business and support them to grow fast, to deliver a new financial platform, all in a way that was far faster than doing it with a traditional physical desktop deployment, which would involve all those traditional challenges.”

Next on the horizon for Morgan Stanley is Cloud-based, hosted computing architectures.

“Cloud, in general, is going to be a huge enabler for workplace transformation, I think,” he said. “Not only does it give us the agility, but it also gives us an opportunity to look at new technologies and evaluate their value to business as well as be responsive to the business very quickly.”

Notably, the company has hired its first Chief Digital Officer, whose charter is to provide high quality and fidelity utilities and resources to its clients and financial advisors through emerging technology.                                             

Going Digital Can Actually Improve Security

There are some industries and companies for which cybersecurity is critical. And then there are others where it’s existential, not just for protecting data, but protecting livelihoods – and life itself. While both Morgan Stanley and Exelon acknowledge the dark side of the digital economy, they also believe that investments in cybersecurity measures will ultimately reap business rewards and reveal new business opportunities.

“Cyber’s certainly changing the way we do business, and it’s changing the way we look at technology,” said Morgan Stanley’s Verderame. “At face value it’s more difficult. Personally, I think that it’s going to bring a lot of great opportunity for us as technologists. There’re so many innovative technologies that are emerging because of the cyber world we live in, it’s just going to make more opportunity for us to create more innovative platforms and services to provide the business so that they can mobilize their workforce. They can emerge into new markets. And they can just provide a higher quality product to their clients.”

“Whether we’re talking about our utility group, our [power] generation group, security has always been and always will be a very key focus of ours,” added Exelon’s Cavalcanto. “Traditionally, we’ve always looked at physical security in that aspect. And as more and more things are going digital, we obviously have more and more of a focus on security. Like many folks out here, what we’re trying to figure out is how do you keep moving that technology ball forward, and how do you balance security with that, right? How do you balance security and usability, security and adoption?

“What we did in our generation plants is take these paper-based procedures – because we’re a very procedure-oriented company – which may have been two three-inch thick binders, and we digitized it. Now when you do that, right, all the benefits that come along with that, you get to know stages of things of when they’re done. You get to know outage timing better. You get to overall reduce the time of outages. But you also can wrap a level of security around it that you can’t wrap with paper. For example, as folks are walking around, we not only know who’s using the device, what’s on the device, when was the last time the device was accessed, but also if the device ever leaves the plant, it’s useless. And that’s something you can’t do with paper.”

IT Heroes of the Digital Age

Exelon, Morgan Stanley and New York-Presbyterian Hospital exemplify what it takes to say YES to Digital Business in an era that holds tremendous promise for some – and disruption and displacement for others. As I meet with Citrix customers, I realize how IT leaders from every sector and corner of the globe are leveraging virtualization, networking, and secure file sharing to re-think how their companies and their employees work.

I welcome you to share your story with me at