Another Microsoft key hire

Fact: In 2007, Walt Disney shot up the ranks in two separate “Most Innovative Companies” lists. On Business Week’s annual list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies,” Disney zoomed from #43 in 2006, to #8.  Similarly, “The WIRED 40,” WIRED Magazine’s “tenth annual list of the most innovative companies in the world,” saw Disney come from nowhere – not even on the list in 2006 – to rank at #29.  

Analysis: Microsoft again made both lists, including a stellar #5 in Business Week, but rivals Apple and Google held down the top two spots on each list (trading positions).  Not to rest on its laurels, and to gain leverage against such innovative engines, Microsoft today announced it has lured away Disney’s CIO Tony Scott to come to Redmond and bring some of the Mouse’s magic way of supporting innovative spark with a robust and cutting-edge internal IT environment.

A Chief Information Officer has enormous impact on organizational innovation; a bad CIO can guarantee stagnation and decline, not only in the actual IT stack but in the mood and morale of employees in any 21st century organization. When employees are provided with the best tools, they do their best work, and Tony Scott has a well-known record of providing world-class technology to the Disney enteprise.

Just about a year ago, I toured the main Disney data center in Florida, as a side trip during the annual Gartner IT Expo in Orlando. In my group were several other senior intelligence community technologists, including the deputy CIO for the entire IC. The hours we spent touring the compound were illustrative of what smart, outside-the-box planning can accomplish with vision and competent management. That memorable tour echoed in our minds throughout 2007, as IC agencies worked on rubber-meets-the-road technology transformation (see for example the sections on infrastructure rationalization and enterprise architecture in the DNI’s 500-Day-Plan).

Tony Scott should be proud of the influence his work had within the Beltway.  I’ve had the pleasure to work with great CIOs and with mediocre ones. Tony Scott is the former, he’s coming to Microsoft at a really exciting time for the company, and I’m looking forward to working with him.

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