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Welcome To Digital 2.0:
The Modern Digital Executive Interview Series.
Episode 2 / May 9, 2022
Digital 2.0 Episode 2: Devin Shirley, CISO of Blue Cross Blue Shield AK
In this episode of Digital 2.0, Devin Shirley, CISO for Blue Cross Blue Shield AK gives tips on how digital transformation is done right.
Digital 2.0 is an interview series dedicated to interviewing the best and brightest senior digital executives around the world that have taken a stance on the importance of Digital within their organizations and are helping everyone understand the role of technology in our everyday lives.
Episode 2 / May 9, 2022
People, Processes, & Technology: How This Blue Cross Blue Shield Executive Leverages All Three

It’s easy to know what works in cloud consulting and digital transformation in legacy IT environments.

But how do we do it successfully? And getting what works done is another story.

We sat down with Devin Shirley, Chief Information Security Officer for Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, and discussed how digital transformation is done right.

There is always something to glean from other industry leaders when discussing perspectives or strategies; it’s one of the ways we learn to grow as a company. And we thought we’d share some insightful points from our sit-down.Here’s what we learned from Shirley about how he utilizes people, processes, and technology to drive success.

Here’s what we learned from Shirley about how he utilizes people, processes, and technology to drive success.

True Transformation Requires PPT: People, Process & Technology
  • When talking about transformation, especially digital transformation, many companies tend to focus on just the technology.

    The truth is transformation is really about a combination of things.

    - People

    - Process
  •  
  • - Technology

    It’s like a three-legged stool. Take one away and the whole thing falls over. If you’re moving to the cloud or AI-enabled solutions, yes, you’re upgrading your technology, but without consistent processes and the right talent, it might cause more problems than it fixes.

    Do you need to train them to use these technologies and processes? Do you need to hire more people?When leaders get too focused on technology, they learn the hard way that some of the hardest work is found in everything else.

    There’s no direct approach to transformation. Instead, consider the balance of the three vital elements:

    Technology

    This is the most obvious part. You need to consider the rapid changes and advancements in new technologies and how it affects your company.

    People

    You have to consider your employees and how new technologies affect them. Do they have the right skillset? Are you training and hiring more people?

    Process

    You must consider transforming your company’s processes to adapt to the potential new technologies or people you’re bringing in.

    You need the right team.

    We talked about the value of metrics and the importance of tracking different aspects of your company with Shirley throughout the interview.

    When looking at his team, he asks himself the following:

    “Do you have the appropriate skillset? And if not, are you training or hiring the right people?”

    Essential questions to ask. With the pace at which our world moves, teams need to be able to adapt efficiently.

    The best teams aren’t at the top because of what they’ve done in the past- they’re the best because of how they use the experience for the future.
How Devin Defines Innovation

Innovation, transformation, and modernization are liberally used buzzwords in the industry, and sometimes we hear them more on the marketing side.

However, I like to look at them simply from the angle of change because it’s more familiar; we’ve always had change.

So many people complicate business innovation and transformation.

Innovation isn’t just updating your business model.

It is updating your organization to adapt to the change in environment.

Whether it is social adaptation or technological adaptation, innovation is simply the ability to adapt to enable the business to continue to succeed and propel forward under any circumstances.

You need processes that can adapt to new potential and change.

Agility is huge. But it’s about more than that when it comes to our partners.

We discussed the purpose of being agile and why it’s so crucial. After asking Shirley what it all meant to him, he had this to say:

“It’s the ability to adapt in a way that you enable the business to succeed and continue to propel forward.”

It’s the truth. We bring modernized solutions with the intent to grow. It’s our duty as partners. And part of executing digital transformation properly is developing processes that can thrive in any situation.

Change today is different from change in the sixties, seventies, or eighties. We have smartphones, AI, crypto, and other rapidly changing technologies. But it’s still change. And the best-led companies pivot accordingly.

For example, COVID brought the need for companies to adapt to remote work, forcing many companies to innovate and transform swiftly.

It’s how we adapt that matters.

Things can change instantly, and being at the top requires powerful flexibility.

Things That Will Impact Digital Innovation The Most
Before innovations can take place, you have to consider:

- What are your sector’s regulatory requirements

- How fast do these requirements adapt to technology, and

- If you are building on decade-old legalities with futuristic technologies.

Security threats will have the biggest impact on the speed of innovation and how it’s implemented.

As businesses get more sophisticated with their technology, the criminals also get sophisticated with their attacks and vice versa. The actions of cybercriminals can push you to adapt quickly, or they may slow you down.

Many of these policies and requirements are set by the government, which means things usually happen slower than we want them to. You can see it as a barrier or an opportunity.

Constraints don’t hinder our ability to be creative and innovative – they enhance it.

You have to understand the technology.

Shirley says, “You’re upgrading technology. You’re adapting. Whether you’re going to the cloud or researching AI, you’re looking at all these elements that continue to hit us, not even yearly, but almost every few months- but it’s about really understanding:

• How does it affect the customer experience?

• And how does it affect your employees?

• You have to see the interconnectedness of the tech and how it affects the whole.

• Is it a positive effect?

• Is it a zero net gain?

• Is it potentially negative?

Knowing the buzzwords isn’t enough- topical knowledge doesn’t cut it. Being the best requires practical experience with new tech in new spaces. It’s about measuring its impact all around you from inside the company and out.
Companies That Are Embracing Digital Innovation

When it comes to digital innovation, it’s easy to spotlight the big ones. It’s not surprising to notice innovation in larger companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Amazon, for example, is one company that has pushed the barriers to digital innovation. Who would have thought that a company selling books would be where it is today. They’ve moved from just selling books and other items to web hosting and cloud hosting.

These big companies have been there for a while, and we know they’ll always be players in the digital innovation space. But it’s surprising to see the level of innovation in many smaller companies.

Look at the smaller players doing big things people don’t know and talk about. Many bigger companies also go out to look for these smaller companies who are pushing the frontiers of digital innovation. They acquire them and then integrate them into their own platforms. So sometimes, many of the innovations seen by these big firms are done by these acquired smaller firms.

Digital 2.0 Hot Seat: Real, Hype, or WTF

We put Devin on the hot seat to ask lightning-round questions, and here were his answers.

AI:

AI is real, and I think there’s a little bit of a marketing element to it.

Although I disagree with some experts regarding the nuts and bolts of what machine learning and AI are, overall, it is being leveraged in the market.

AI also has a lot of potential when it comes to automation, and that’s where I believe it’ll get its strongest lift from.

Experts are looking into how to automate the workforce as much as possible and how to use Artificial Intelligence to free up more time for people in the workplace

They are also looking to use AI for data analytics. I firmly believe AI will have a big piece in data analytics.

The Metaverse:

Whenever I hear the Metaverse, my mind goes to Dr. Strange. So I think, WTF, I’m not clear on what it is or its potential.

Crypto:

At some point, I would have said crypto is all hype. But the more I see, the more I admit it’s definitely a part of our reality, and it could stay that way. I see how big crypto adoption can get. I also see more and more advertisements for cryptocurrency. Even the super bowl had ads about crypto. These days, it looks like there’s a big push to make it more real than it has ever been.

Elon Musk:

I like Elon Musk. Yes, some people may have issues with him, but I like his mind and that he pushes the limits. He is trying to get people to think beyond what they’re used to. One person can drive competition, and Elon Musk does that well with Tesla.

If Elon wasn’t here, would the electric cars be as far along as they are?But now, it’s time for GM, Ford, and all these other people to step up their game in electric vehicles.

Remote Work:

Remote work is real and here to stay.

The first hit of the pandemic was probably the source of remote work, with many companies asking questions likeWhat are we doing? How long do you think it’ll be here? There were also a lot of technological adaptations from the security side. There were extensive discussions about how to secure the remote workforce.

But it’s been two years, and people are getting pretty decent at it. Remote work now plays a huge role in how people look at job offers.

It’s no longer just about how much a job pays you. It’s also about the kind of flexibility it gives. People want to know if they can live in Alaska and have a job in Hawaii.

My talk with Devin really broke down how to embrace transformation and really innovate effectively for longevity of success.

Thank you, Devin, for such an insightful interview.

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