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Paul Moulton, Executive VP & CIO, Costco

I have written lately on the challenge IT leaders face bridging IT and business goals. Last week I attended an event that hosted a CIO panel including Paul Moulton, CIO of Costco. Mr. Moulton made a few great comments that reinforce the need for IT and business goal alignment.

Mr. Moulton stated that he preferred vendors that are not too technical and that he likes to see a PowerPoint presentation that uses business terms. If the presentation is in all technical terms Mr. Moulton immediately thinks the presenter is a gear head and wants to end the meeting quickly because “… he just makes me feel stupid.” The implication is that nothing is really translating to the business needs and the meeting is essentially a waste of time.

Mr. Moulton focuses on implementing technologies that are doable, sustainable and drive business cost efficiencies. Once the technology to be implemented is identified he asks two key questions:

1. Can we use what we have to accomplish the new technology plan?
2. Can we buy or do we need to build?

Mr. Moulton said they are looking at the cloud and what technology areas make sense to move that direction. He is in the wait and see mode primarily because of his belief in the basic principal that pioneers get a lot of arrows in their back. When anyone asks how to do something that he does not immediately know the answer his response is “Can’t the cloud do that?”