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CIO Profile: Richard Thomas Of Quintiles

This CIO is strongly in favor of the bring-your-own-device trend

Career Track

Richard Thomas, CIO, Quintiles

How long at Quintiles: Seven years at this biopharmaceutical services company.

Decision I wish I could do over: In 1998, I sat down with two good friends to talk about starting up a company that could provide off-premises, hosted business services for small and midsize companies, but didn’t follow through despite a strong case to give it a try. I’ve learned not to get too comfortable and hold back from trying something new (and risky).

On The Job

Top Initiatives:

•We want to improve staff productivity by opening up and fully embracing consumer technologies and employee-owned devices in the workplace.

•We’re focused on reducing the risk, time, and cost required to run clinical trials.

The Most Disruptive Force In My Industry:  The funding model for the biopharmaceutical industry is broken and the future is unclear. With pressure increasing to reduce healthcare costs and a burgeoning pipeline of products in development, biopharmaceutical firms are hard pressed to benefit from a wave of advances and a better understanding of the human body. Revenue is decreasing from drugs no longer on patent, so who will pay for the R&D required to develop new treatments and therapies?

Vision

How I give my team room to innovate and experiment: We focus on the outcome first and fit the technology to that goal, allowing flexibility along the way. It’s a tough balance between innovation and simply running the business. Over the last year, I’ve established a formal R&D group to focus on those technologies that are further out but highly relevant to our industry. No one individual or group owns innovation, but good ideas require focus and some leeway to develop.

One thing I’m looking to do better: As mentioned earlier, we’re embracing all manner of consumer devices that our employees want to use in the workplace, whether they’re owned by the company or not. We’re doing this through a series of changes in our core infrastructure, allowing self-registration of noncompany devices. My goal is to ensure that an employee can walk into any one of our offices around the world and be productive immediately.

What I need from tech vendors: I’d love even more of that wonderful consumer-friendly technology to cross over into the clunky corporate world.

The most overrated IT movement: The cloud is still too complicated. Anything that’s as hyped as it has been is unlikely to meet expectations. The cloud has tremendous possibilities–and I’m a huge proponent–but we need a reality check.

Personal

Fastest way into my doghouse:Working in IT but not understanding technology; if you work in IT, I expect you to know what you’re talking about

Person I’d most like to have lunch with: The Dalai Lama

First job: At 16 an internship as a programmer for a construction company, which led to a scholarship and parttime job that paid for my education

Last vacation: The Outer Banks, N.C.

If I weren’t a CIO, I’d be … racing cars until I got too old–then, I’d try running a race team

Ranked No. 6 in the 2012 InformationWeek 500

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Originally posted on October 10, 2012 on InformationWeek.com under Global CIO.

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