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For IT chief, the goal is to deliver business value

Waste Industries' Hubert Barkley discusses the CIO role and tech projects that increase efficiency in this Q&A.

Synonym for CIO: three words, 21 letters. What is it?

That's valued business partner, said Hubert Barkley, the IT chief at Waste Industries, a garbage and recycling collection company in Raleigh, N.C.

His title is not CIO -- he's the vice president of information and technology -- but he's effectively "the CIO, the CSO, the director of IT and whatever else that they want me to do." And his job is to understand the business side of the house and use technology to deliver business value.

He and his team are doing that through an assortment of tech projects. For example, the company uses analytics on maintenance data to determine which in its fleet of garbage trucks is going to need to be replaced. It also built a dashboard for the trucks that serves as a "coaching tool," tracking how many bins workers picked up in a certain amount of time. So, if a driver who was supposed to pick up 700 in under 10 hours did it in 11, "we say, 'Well, you did 11. What happened?' They go, 'Oh, truck broke down.'"

SearchCIO spoke with Barkley in December about how IT at Waste Industries is working to deliver business value. Edited excerpts are below.

How would you describe your role as an IT executive at Waste Industries?

Hubert BarkleyHubert Barkley

Hubert Barkley: I'm the lead visionary, if you will. I'm the CIO, the CSO, the director of IT and whatever else that they want me to do, because I'm also a -- I'll use the words valued business partner. I try to understand the business. I can speak the language of the people here, and I think it's very critical for all IT leaders to understand the business from the business owners' perspective -- and then see how you can provide a solution that will make it successful for them, not to tell them how it's going to be and you don't understand what they need.

I had a conversation with my COO this morning. I said, 'You're responsible for the operations of this company, and you probably look at Waste Industries and say this is an operational company that picks up garbage.' He goes, 'Absolutely.' I said, 'Well, I look at it differently. I look at this as an information technology company that happens to pick up garbage. And the distinction is my job is to find leading-edge, cutting-edge technology that will allow us to do our jobs more efficiently, effectively and bring better value to our business and our investors.' I think all CIOs need to think in this realm, regardless of what they're doing.

My job is to find leading-edge, cutting-edge technology that will allow us to do our jobs more efficiently, effectively and bring better value to our business and our investors.
Hubert Barkleyvice president of information and technology, Waste Industries

What are some examples of how you're using technology to deliver business value?

Barkley: We use predictive analytics to determine when we're going to replace our trucks -- in other words, we determine the life of a truck based off of its maintenance history and the environment that it runs in. So, we have multiple different kinds of trucks, and I can tell you, 'Hey, in year seven you're going to want to replace truck X. Because after that, even if you put a new engine and transmission in it, you're going to get diminishing returns.'

We also do geospatial analysis. We'll look at census data to decide where we should focus on the sales of our business based on our route density. So, if you've been in an area and you say, 'Hey, here's an area we service and, oh, by the way, the census data is telling us there's a lot of new construction over here. There's a lot of business over here.' We'll just route people to go to those places and focus on those, because for us it's all about the density: The more we can pick up in the least amount of miles we drive is more profitable for us.

We also look at dynamic route optimization. That's where we're kind of like UPS. We want our trucks to run the most efficient route and the least amount of time picking up the most waste, and then we can measure that. For example, we've created a driver dashboard, which is a coaching tool, where we can say, 'Hey, you were supposed to pick up 700 cans in nine and a half hours. You did it in nine and a half hours. That's fantastic.' If they did it in 11, we say, 'Well, you did 11. What happened?' They go, 'Oh, truck broke down.' We can do exception-based coaching, so if everybody's doing good, you don't need to talk to them and this thing will point out the ones who may need to be talked to or a little more information found out.

Learn about the copy data management software project that's helping move data across a hybrid cloud-data center architecture in part one of this two-part interview.

This was last published in February 2018

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