ASPCA VP of IT on Business, Technology & BoxWorks

Every year, the ASPCA does incredible work to improve the lives of animals. We are incredibly honored and excited to work with them to help drive increased flexibility and greater on-the-go access to the information needed to support their work. 

We sat down with VP of IT, Nada O'Neal, to hear about the challenges she faces as an IT executive and what trends she sees driving change in the industry.

Tell me a bit about what brought you to the ASPCA. What is your primary mandate as CIO/IT lead?

I was drawn to the ASPCA because of its relentless commitment to improving the lives of animals with a data-driven focus on developing creative new programs and solutions. The organization is constantly innovating, re-evaluating what works best and is willing to challenge assumptions in order to make the greatest impact. From my perspective, effective IT is vital to our information-rich, collaborative approach. As VP of IT, my mandate is not merely to use technology to further our mission now, but also to position us strategically for greater capacity and reach in the future.

What are some of the challenges you face from an IT perspective? What are some of the things that keep you up at night?

Optimization and change come at a price, and I don't just mean the often substantial monetary investment. Every technological complication or improvement has the potential to distract the staff from their real jobs (particularly insidiously, the more sophisticated a system is, the more potential it has to force business operations to fit the system's logic, which in turn hampers innovation and growth). However, progress is impossible without paying some of these costs. So one of my most vexing questions is whether I've gone too far and am now pushing progress for the sake of progress, or whether I haven't gone far enough in investing in change.

Before Box, what types of challenges were you facing that caused you to explore alternate file sharing solutions?

Our staff are mobile, data-driven, and collaborative, both inside and outside the organization. Our internal file shares did not meet the needs of many of our staff, including heavy travelers, cross-functional researchers, and those who worked in the field directly with animals.

How do you use Box?

Our staff use Box to access their files from anywhere, including mobile devices, and securely share them as needed. We also use the administrative tools to see exactly what's being shared, with whom, and how often they're accessing it. Finally, both users and administrators can recover accidentally deleted or overwritten files.

What just-now-emerging technologies will have the greatest impact on IT in the next 5-10 years (if any) and why?

The new 2D materials and improvements in battery technology are making a splash and will winnow away our current form factor, energy, and heat constraints. This will undoubtedly make a huge change in what we understand a "computer" to look like, and how they're physically integrated into our lives as wearables, disposables, implants, etc. However, I think that changes in machine intelligence, which have been decades in the making, will actually bring about a more radical integration, as non-technical people can ask computers to perform increasingly complex everyday tasks, from understanding spoken plain language to driving a car. Improved machine intelligence can reduce the need to wrestle with keyboards and screens, which could make many of our current interface problems irrelevant.

What are you most excited about at this year’s BoxWorks conference?

This is the first year that the ASPCA will be exhibiting in the Box.org pavilion. We're excited to share a number of things that technology professionals can do in their everyday lives, both at home and at work, to improve the lives of animals.

To find out more about how the ASPCA is improving the lives of animals, visit the Box.org Pavillion at BoxWorks and check out how the ASPCA’s rapid response FIR team uses a “shared brain” of cloud folders to organize volunteer responders across the country. 

Full scholarship admission to BoxWorks is available for qualified orgs! For more information, e-mail signups@box.org for a registration code.