Equinix’s Brian Lillie has been named the Silicon Valley’s CIO of the Year for his outstanding leadership and work driving IT innovation that’s benefited Equinix’s customers, partners and employees.
Lillie received the award during a ceremony Thursday night at the Sofitel San Francisco hotel in Redwood City, Calif. The award was jointly presented by the San Francisco Business Times, the Silicon Valley Business Journal and PriceWaterhouse Coopers.
Lillie said he considered the honor a “team award,” adding it wouldn’t have been possible without a company-wide dedication to innovation.
“There are a lot of people who work really, really hard in the global IT function,” he said. “Frankly, this is less an award about me and more an award about them.”
Lillie joined Equinix in late August 2008 and has led several major customer-facing information technology initiatives, including the build and deployment of a global Web portal platform that has enabled the Equinix Customer Portal, the Equinix Marketplace Portal, the Ethernet Exchange Portal and, most recently, the Equinix Cloud Exchange portal.
Lillie’s team has also created mobile apps that have engaged customers and expanded Equinix’s Web presence and online business. Lillie’s team, along with the global product development team, has earned patents (with some pending) for the Web platform and mobile apps they’ve built to make it easier for customers to do business with Equinix. One such application, the IBX Map App, allows customers to virtually tour a data center on mobile devices before they colocate there.
“We’re reaching our customers where they want to be reached, which is on mobile devices,” Lillie said.
Lillie said he wants to continuously engage customers, and not just virtually. Face-to-face, handshake-to-handshake relationships are what he’s after, he said.
“I fully believe I can add much more value to Equinix being a front office CIO, rather than just a back office CIO,” he said. “You want to earn deep customer, partner and employee relationships, and you do that by listening, learning and leading. In the digital age you don’t want to lose the human touch.”
Relationships have been critical in helping Equinix’s move forward, Lillie said. Knowing and talking with customers and employees sparks new thinking and exposes Equinix to new ways of doing things. Lillie said some of Equinix’s most exciting innovations have come from listening to starts-ups and being willing to take a chance on a young company that has great technology and vision and passion. “It’s where innovation really happens, he said.”
“It’s really important for CIOs to not be afraid and get out and innovate and not manage out of fear,” he said. “You get much more out of it than the risk you take on.”
Lillie said Equinix must stay engaged and will keep pushing innovation, particularly around the Equinix Cloud Exchange and mobile technology.
“We’ve really just scratched the surface on the mobile front,” he said. “We also have to create even more value for our customers by making our services available through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), as this creates a ‘digital connection’ between us and our customer and partners, and we become a part of their ecosystem.”
Awards are great, Lillie said, but it’s critical to stay humble and focused on customer needs.
“Sometimes success breeds cockiness and cockiness breeds complacency,” he said. “Staying humble prevents you from going the way of some companies, where they get so cocky, they stop innovating, they stop working hard, and they stop caring. Then they’re no longer relevant.”