Cardinal Health touches just about every aspect of healthcare. The Fortune 15 company offers wholesale distribution for pharmaceutical products in more than 70 countries; supply distribution; Cardinal-branded product sourcing and manufacturing; nuclear pharmacy and new post-acute services.

Cardinal Health has a lot of work to keep track of. That's why its IT system, Enterprise Information Technology, is so vital. “The technology supports the operations of the company from supply chain distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, all the way to commercial technology, which we actually sell to our customers directly, so we have technology implemented at the customer. It's a very mission-critical part of what we do here at Cardinal,” says Patty Morrison, executive vice president of customer support services and chief information officer.

“We have a very big set of business models here that are servicing across those multiple customers. So IT here is at the base and fundamental capability of every single thing,” she adds.

Morrison credits the Columbus Region with Cardinal Health's thriving IT operations.

“I've worked in a lot of different cities, and one of the things I absolutely love about Columbus is that it has a great collaborative nature to it.”

As a member of the board at Columbus Collaboratory, Morrison works closely with six other members who are chief information/technology officers at their respective companies.

“We're able to collaborate on topics like cyber security, data and analytics, IT talent development in the Region,” she says. “We also do a lot of innovation together so we can learn across industries. I think this is really unique to Columbus and part of what the business leaders and the city leaders work very hard at—creating that collaborative environment.”

“The other thing that's really great about Columbus is just the access to really good talent. We have fantastic universities and schools in the Region that give us access to great talent,” she says.

Cyber security is one area in particular on the minds of the Collaboratory board members, and on the minds of every company in the Region, says Morrison.

“We work together on sharing best practices, where appropriate sharing threat intelligence. It's interesting because we're only as strong as our weakest link.”

For example, AEP runs energy to Cardinal's data center in Dublin, and as such the two companies share details that may affect each other.

“It's important that we understand what they're doing to protect themselves (and) the impact it has on us—even if we weren't affected we've found there are supply-chain effects that happen—so I think that collaboration is very powerful,” she says.

It seems as if there is no end to IT innovation, and the Columbus Region's IT ecosystem will continue to explore new technological territories such as machine learning and cognitive computing as they apply to anything from financial services and healthcare, to retail and insurance, says Morrison.

“Another challenge is helping an IT organization evolve to using new ways of building applications through cloud-based services; building architectures that allow us to move faster—taking monolithic, more legacy applications and moving them to contemporary architectures that will enable the company to have options and move with speed. That's a big challenge because, in our business, it's very important that we constantly evolve to create new value for our customer base, so we have to have that flexibility.”