Robert Norris believes companies, including his own, must use technology to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
"CIOs are moving more to the center of innovation within the enterprise, and CIOs are increasingly driving more growth than ever before," says Norris, vice president of strategic development and CIO at Pinnacol Assurance, a Denver-based provider of workers' compensation insurance.
Lisa Jasper, a consultant who has worked with Pinnacol, says Norris is a good example of this kind of CIO. "[His] thinking is led by business opportunity," she says, and he's "constantly innovating rather than settling for good enough."
Recent IT projects at Pinnacol highlight Norris' ability to align innovation and strategy. For example, IT recently revamped and integrated the company's website and various secure extranet applications to create a unified Web experience and increase mobile accessibility for customers, a move that the company expects will help it attract and retain customers.
IT is also developing more mobile applications for customers and employees, which will create efficiencies while improving services, Norris says.
Norris, 46, says he works closely with his business colleagues to understand and develop strategic objectives. And he fosters a culture that encourages innovation by enabling collaboration, experimentation, trials and even failures -- as long as the goal remains driving the business forward.