Beyond Tech for Tech’s Sake
Tim Crawford discovered the world of computers in the 1980s through exposure to AutoCAD while designing circuit boards in high school. What else can this computer do? he wondered. He became fascinated by the art of the possible for the computer and switched to studying computer information systems which helped launch a journey that led to his becoming a strategic CIO and sought-after global advisor.
Crawford started leading IT organizations at the age of twenty-one and was immediately interested in the relationship between technology and business, well before this type of thinking became the norm.
“I’d have these statements made to me—‘hey go fix this, install that’… I’d ask myself how does this solve a business problem…but I’d constantly be told, ‘Shut up Crawford—just go do it.’ That made me this awkward oddball who was interested in how technology connects in, not just tech for tech’s sake.”
His interest in the intersection of computers and technology and business led Crawford to get an MBA in international business. He believes that humans have a lot to learn about when to use technology and when not to use it. He is passionate about the need to strike a healthy balance, leveraging technology where it’s meaningful and setting it aside where it’s not.
“It’s not just about the in-depth speeds and feeds of a particular technology, but how does that connect to a business outcome? The problem is that we have not given up on that almost drunkenness that comes around technology, the ‘hey this is cool stuff.’”
Crawford believes the technologies that are already available can carry us far.
“If we were to stop innovating today…meaning we stop designing, stop innovating, stop producing new technology, there is so much opportunity and so much technology that’s already in the marketplace to consume, that it would take us years down the path.”
His two pieces of advice for younger people who are entering the field:
“First, understand the connection between business and technology because that will help you relate to those outside of IT.”
“Secondly, regardless of what aspect of technology you are working in, where you are in your career, or which industry you are in—think about data—the role of data and how that becomes valuable to whatever problem you’re solving.”
Tim Crawford is ranked as one of the most influential CIOs and regularly quoted in the Wall Street Journal, CIO.com, Forbes, SiliconAngle, and TechTarget. Crawford is a strategic CIO, executive coach, and advisor who works with global enterprise organizations across industries including financial services, healthcare, major airlines, and high-tech. Tim’s work differentiates and catapults organizations in transformative ways using technology as a strategic lever.
Crawford has served as CIO and other senior IT roles with global organizations such as Konica Minolta/ All Covered, Stanford University, Knight-Ridder, Philips Electronics, and National Semiconductor. He is a board advisor to Latent AI and a member of the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Network. Tim serves as host of the CIO In The Know podcast. The weekly podcast interviews CIOs and top executives to discuss the top issues facing them today.
Crawford holds an MBA in International Business with Honors from Golden Gate University Ageno School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Golden Gate University.