Thursday, June 16, 2005

Morgan Stanley CTO Summit

This week, Morgan Stanley hosted its 5th Annual CTO Summit.

The summit serves as a testament to why innovation matters and how large companies can effectively partner with start-ups to make a difference.

First, Morgan Stanley's CTO, Guy Chiarello, makes working with start-ups a top priority. He recognizes that he simply cannot wait for his incumbent vendors to deliver on next-generation technology, and he works hard to ensure that Morgan Stanley's competitive advantage is maintained by the identification and adoption of cutting edge technologies.

For example, Guy handed out two innovation awards to companies that embody how technology can help large enterprises grow IT capacity without a correlated growth in head-count or costs. This year's winners were VMWare, which provides processor virtualization technologies, and Avamar, a provider of disk-based, rather than tape-based back-up solutions. Both companies were identified by Morgan Stanley in prior West Coast CTO conferences and since implementation have helped Morgan Stanley increase IT asset utilization and data back-up efficiencies.

Second, he brings his entire senior team to the West coast for the two-day event, no small expense in time, logistics, and coordination. This year he brought out 40 of his best and brightest to meet with emerging start-ups and VCs. The 40 represent the bank's leaders in BI/information management, collaboration and web applications, compute and storage platforms, enterprise and application management, network connectivity, risk and security, and the CTO's office.

Third, his staff candidly explain where they need help and where technology can, on the margin, better help Morgan's IT group deliver on business benefit and advantage.

Fourth, he devotes an entire day to meeting with pre-screened start-up companies that appear to meet one of MS' unmet needs. This year, one of my companies, Klocwork, had the privilege of presenting to Guy and the security group. Klocwork provides source code quality and security analysis and is in a position to help Morgan automate code review and improve the performance and security of its home-grown applications.

Over the last three years, Morgan Stanley used start-up technologies, such as VMWare, to dramatically increase its compute, storage, and network capacity (in some cases by over 100% without ANY increase in head-count and operating costs). MS offers the IT world a paradigm of how to leverage commodity hardware (x86), commodity software (Linux), in combination with cutting edge innovation to grow IT capacity and drive business advantage without seeing an equivalent growth in cost.

Why does Morgan Stanley send 40 of its smartest guys to the West coast every year?

They recognize that young, start-up technology companies can help large enterprises solve complex business and technology challenges in ways that larger system vendors and software houses simply cannot match. Per my post on the Golden Age of IT, Morgan is embracing two powerful trends (standard hardware and commodity software) in complement with innovative, start-up technologies that help accelerate cost-reduction, efficiency, and capacity.

I left impressed by their commitment to innovation and how well they APPLY innovation to solve real problems.

Guy is a model CTO/CIO and he gives all us in the technology industry hope that the enterprise will continue to recognize and reward technology innovation. Now, who said IT is dead?


  1. Anonymous7:14 PM

    Will, this sounds like a great experience and opportunity to understand first hand exactly what a first rate company like Morgan Stanley is looking for that does not yet exist. Can you shed some light on this? What are the netx gen edges that they need?

  2. IT is definately not "dead" - the biggest questions are around the ability of start-ups within this space to grow to become sizeable and signficant companies. We continue to invest in these technologies, but most of these are point solutions that will ultimately become part of a broader platform. For the VC's, this means, M&A at not great exit values.