Kenneth Corriveau on the Individualization of Tech

Kenneth Corriveau, CIO of Omnicom Media Group, is counting on the growing intelligence of our artificial counterparts

It’s easy to heed the latest hot trends in technology. It’s another thing entirely to evaluate the industry over the course of decades and come away with an understanding that illuminates the path of the future, not just the next five minutes.

Looking back over a career of almost twenty years, Kenneth Corriveau, the CIO of Omnicom Media Group, can see one of the most important big-picture, long-term trends: the individualization of technology.

“It has gone from corporate-centric to individual,” says Corriveau. “It’s transitioned from the corporate standards, platforms, and direction, to the employees bringing technology solutions, directions, ideas, and thinking to the business in a way that has shifted IT departments and technologists alike.”

One example Corriveau cites as proof of this phenomenon is the birth and widespread use of apps. “If you look at what new technology giants have brought to the table, [it’s all about] an app, and the beauty of what an app can be, and the interaction of what an app should be,” says Corriveau. “That has really permeated solutions that are being delivered by old companies, new companies, individuals developing solutions, and IT departments pushing out technology.”

That change has been especially relevant in the media industry, Corriveau says, pointing to a recent project based around data visualization and work-flow improvements. “I think media, of all industries, has been very focused on data and will continue to be,” he says. “For the last three to five years, data has played a key role for us and will serve more and more of an important role in our organization, and all organizations.”

About three years ago, Corriveau gathered members of his top team to discuss trends and changes in the industry and what they could do in the IT group to stay relevant.

“A lot of the way our users would interact with data was living on an Excel spreadsheet,” says Corriveau. “That’s when we started to put together a perspective on how we can gather this data together, put it into a platform that our users could interact with. We wanted to help them move their processes out of Excel and into a platform that would provide an ability to do better visualizations and more analytics.”

But the future of technology in media depends on far more than just raw data; it’s all about what IT leaders do with that data. “I think many organizations are looking at that next step,” says Corriveau. “You’ve looked at gathering data, you looked at putting data into a dashboard, then you’ve looked at activating on that data and that information, but now the next step is around being predictive.”

With so much information available, Corriveau says it’s more important for technology executives to figure out how to find what they need and use it to their advantage than to gather as much data as they can.

“You have to understand what data is important to your organization because there’s so much of it out there,” says Corriveau. “Being able to make the right decisions based on the data that’s relevant for your organization or your clients is critical. [The question of] how you take that information and distill it down to something that is manageable is even more important. Just being able to gather and visualize the data is now the norm—it’s what’s expected.”

Corriveau predicts the next big step in technology will be getting the machines to think for us. “Whether it’s machine learning, predictive analytics, or AI, technology is becoming easier to use,” he says. “People are interacting with it more. We’re sharing information in ways we’ve never shared before.”

Corriveau believes that this is an incredibly positive development, and that machine learning will help companies get better insights into the ways that people work and interact, creating better, more tailored solutions.

“There’s that fine line where we don’t want to cross into the Terminator concept of conscientious awareness by machines, but I think we’re decades away from that,” he says. “Yet the thinking that is now starting to happen by machines, and the insights [from what] would take a human significantly longer to make these correlations, is amazing.”

Corriveau stresses the need to always be looking forward. “The systems that are out now are putting these corollaries together for us in ways we might not have seen, and that is freeing us up to analyze and then say, ‘OK, now what?’”

Another benefit Corriveau predicts from these leaps in computer intelligence is increased affordability. “All the processing power in the rocket that landed on the moon is now in one of our mobile devices,” he says. “The cost of technology is going to continue to decrease, which allows more processing power per individual.”