Who’s Answering the Next Big Question? Cybersecurity Chief Kurt John of Siemens USA

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

Each episode of the Next Big Question podcast, we interview C-level executives and thought leaders about a big, timely business question. Recently, we talked to Kurt John, Chief Cybersecurity Officer of Siemens USA about how organizations can tune out noise in their technology ecosystems.

Kurt recognizes the need for technology to make operations more impactful and allow businesses to go to market in new, better and faster ways. But with an exploding vendor landscape, how can IT and security leaders navigate this -- and keep their organizations secure? 

In this episode, Kurt discusses the evolving role of the CISO, how he defines the technology ecosystem and evaluates partners, and how leaders can leverage the ecosystem for competitive advantage. He also talks about the forces that shape technology decision making and the migratory nature of risk in this new context.

The way I see it is that I happen to be an expert in cybersecurity. But really my job at Siemens is to think strategically, creatively, and try to problem solve and enable the business so that they can be successful. And again, that's in the broadest possible scale… But really, it's about business enablement and protecting the brand.”


Liz Ramey: “Just like you're saying, there are so many products and services out there, and they are all using the same value proposition. They're all talking about digital business and where they fit into that large ecosystem. So, how do you, as a leader within a business that probably has several technology ecosystems around the business, how do you start filtering out some of that noise without having to test out so many different technologies? Since you're talking about this need for velocity to be able to take an idea and get it into the market as fast as you can.” 

Kurt John: “So, the first is back to fundamentals, right? And that's your business strategy, your objectives, and what it is that you want to achieve in the market -- because that will determine the path you need to take and therefore the technologies that can enable you to do that. 

The second thing is you need to look at your operations more holistically. So, typically what's happened is -- let's say this business or department is implementing these technologies because it fits into what they're trying to do. Another department, the same. And individually, on that level, it works well for them. But then, when IT tries to fit it together as a whole in order to move the organization forward, we realize that it's not fitting together well. Or, we've sort of given ourselves some technical debt -- or insert any number of reasons why these individual choices tied back to achieving a particular business objective, but weren’t really harmonized across departments to make sure it has the best interoperability or alignment as possible.

And then the third really comes back to having a very flexible environment. And this is not something you can just go and flip the switch on, right? This is sort of a medium- to long-term strategy where you need to sit with your CIO and speak with them and say, look, as we renew technologies, purchase new technologies, partner with new people, conceptually, we want an environment that allows us to plug and play, allows us to break things safely, right? And figure out if that's what we want or that's what we need without this massive disruption to operations. So, the third one is more sort of a conceptualization or maybe a cultural approach that will then drive your technology setup so that you could enable that type of agile and flexible environment.”

Listen to the full episode of The Next Big Question featuring Kurt John here, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app


Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company


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