With the introduction this fall of the Digital Innovation and Information Systems (DIIS) MBA concentration at the Graziadio School, the 2013 Digital Innovation @ Pepperdine Conference, sponsored by Internap, assumed added significance. Chief information officers and executives from organizations including SpaceX, Data.gov, Disney, Sears and Medavie Blue Cross explained not only how new technology is revolutionizing the conducting of business and enhancing the customer experience, but also the critical need to graduate business leaders who embrace digital innovation.
Venky Kulkarni, chief information officer and vice president of digital health at Medavie Blue Cross of Canada, answered the question many have been asking: What is digital innovation? Kulkarni defined digital innovation as technology-enabled innovations that drive change and create new business opportunities, forcing companies to innovate and expand into unfamiliar territory.
In this regard, Disney has taken the lead in innovating to ensure an interactive, memorable customer experience. Allen Fazio, vice president of global business technology strategy at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, showed off brightly-colored digital wristbands that give patrons instant access to places like Disneyland and their hotel rooms, streamlining the guest experience. But what enthralled the audience was a new tool that enables visitors to create a custom plastic action figure of themselves as their favorite Disney character. Fazio himself showed off how he realized his dream of becoming a Star Wars stormtrooper.
While Star Wars remains a fantasy, SpaceX, the brainchild of Tesla’s Elon Musk, is striving to make intergalactic travel a reality. Ken Venner, SpaceX CIO, played a clip of the launch of the rocket and spacecraft developer’s Falcon 1, the first privately-developed liquid-fueled rocket to reach orbit.
Perhaps at the core of digital innovation is the accessibility of information. Jeanne Holm, the United States White House evangelist, explained how the federal government is endeavoring to make all non-classified data available to the public through the new open information project Data.gov. By releasing information on even the most esoteric and mundane subjects, Holm explained that Data.gov is a fount of information that can empower people to make better decisions in business and in their lives.
With the wide availability of information, however, comes risk. Demetrios “Laz” Lazarikos, a former chief information security officer and the visionary behind the information security and compliance team for the Sears Online Business Unit, explained that businesses are prime targets of cyber criminals and technology must continually evolve to protect against them.
Concluding a day of wide-ranging discussion, Graziadio School alumni Sashi Edupuganti, director of software solutions at NBCUniversal; Brooke Aguilar, vice president of global business development at Fluid, Inc.; Ted Hooten, senior sales leader at Internap; and Pandora Ovanessian, former vice president of management information systems at Thermo Fisher Scientific urged business students to reexamine their goals and to put into practice the concepts of digital innovation to create new opportunities.