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Informatica 'CIO-plus' Ginna Raahauge aims for the cloud

Don't call Informatica's Ginna Raahauge a CIO; she's a 'CIO-plus.'

Informatica Corp. has its eye on the cloud, and Ginna Raahauge, the software development company's newly crowned CIO, is ready for the challenge.

"My organization and I, we are responsible for the cloud hosting architecture," said Raahauge. "That's a really big focus and investment area for Informatica. And we're working side-by-side with the business units, as well as with the sales team around how we're going to be selling more cloud products."

Informatica's push into cloud products and subscription-based services is happening outside the glare of Wall Street. Earlier this month, Informatica announced it had completed a $5.3 billion deal with European private equity firm Permira and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to go private. The announcement also revealed that Microsoft and Salesforce Ventures came on as investors, and Sohaib Abbasi was stepping down as Informatica CEO. Abbasi, who served in the chief executive position for more than 10 years, remains chairman of the company. Chief Product Officer Anil Chakravarthy is now the acting CEO.

Ginna Raahauge, CIO at InformaticaGinna Raahauge

As for Raahauge, she comes to the data integration company from Riverbed Technology Inc., a San Francisco-based wireless area network optimization provider, where she served for a little more than a year as CIO, and from Cisco Systems Inc. in San Jose, Calif., where she most recently served as the vice president of customer value chain management. She reports to CFO Michael Berry, a relatively new hire himself.

CIO-plus role

To get the lay of the IT land, Raahauge has been taking stock of Informatica's process, people and technology as she begins to understand, "what decisions have been made that left us with the architecture and the applications we had," she said. She's also spending time with key business stakeholders and peers on the executive committee to begin laying out a six-month roadmap that aligns IT strategy with corporate strategy. Cloud, she said, comes up a lot.

"They're very interested in what my thoughts are, particularly around the cloud and how we deliver our cloud solutions to our customers, and make some shifts internally in our business model -- from some of the traditional licensing to offering more choices to our customers around subscription and SaaS-type business models," she said.

Part of Raahauge's strategy is to jettison the more traditional CIO role for something more akin to what Forbes'  Peter High dubbed the CIO-plus role. According to Raahauge, the "i" in CIO is no longer static. It oscillates between information, infrastructure, integration, intelligence and innovation. "Innovation, to me, is about building a certain skill set. You really have to develop your team into becoming critical thinkers," she said. "You have to get them comfortable trying out things that might not always work and comfortable with failure."

For businesses struggling on how to innovate, taking a page from Raahauge's playbook may help. She encourages everyone on her team to keep an eye out for ways to simplify the user experience and then scrutinizes how a new service or new technology will fit into the existing architecture. "If you're not innovating every day at the service layer, as well as at the architectural layer or through your roadmap, then you really learn nothing but to deliver what the business wants," she said. "And the business doesn't always get it right."

Raahauge on four IT trends

On the evolution of IT: "IT is not just the systems or the technology role anymore; it's moving up into the operations layer, and this is where the business and IT have to come more closely together than ever before."

On shadow IT: "If you see shadow IT -- or shadow of any function because this happens to finance, HR and so on -- when you see this start to happen, ask why it's happening. And you have to concede that maybe there's something wrong with what's being built or maybe the service isn't meeting the need."

On the Internet of Things: "It's going to be an explosion point of so much data, that it's going to become harder and harder to consume."

On the chief data officer: "I don't see it as a threat, and I don't think my peers see it as a threat. There's a huge disruption going on across the industry, and the [CDO] conversation is driving more focus on what we really need to have. You could argue that this has been an age-old problem since the advent of BI. It's about data governance, data ownership, data quality and how that interacts with or leverages the architecture or platform you put in place."

Let us know what you think of the story; email Nicole Laskowski, senior news writer, or find her on Twitter @TT_Nicole.

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