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Unfazed by rapid change

Unfazed by rapid change

The CIO role is in a constant state of ‘flux’, but this may actually be a career advantage, part two of our 2015 State of the CIO report reveals.

In part two of our special report on the State of the CIO 2015, New Zealand ICT leaders talk about how the rapid pace of change impacts the role and their teams – and how CIOs can succeed in the new environment. Read part 1 of the report here.

“In a digital world, the CIO has to look past the technology and really look, for instance, at how marketing and other parts of the organisation want to leverage the technology – because it is a whole new ecosystem,” says Andrew Crabb, former head of enterprise solutions and services at Vodafone, and now a business advisor.

“The CIO of today and the future needs to spend a lot of time living and breathing in that environment, really understand the dynamics about what is happening today, what is possible, what is the potential with the technology and where the business is taking the use of those technologies."

Crabb talks about some of the common themes that emerged from the survey results.

These include the need to respond to speed of change and new customer demands as a result of digitalisation, the security implications of the new platforms and services; and the imperative to improve engagement with other business units and executive peers.

Crabb says there are new imperatives for CIOs in a fast-paced digital environment.

“There are new business models emerging all the time from a social environment, or using a digital product,” he adds. “The CIO needs to spend time in the business, not just focusing on the technology and the technology department.”

Read more: Gartner asks, are you meeting the needs of 'information citizens'?

Crabb says CIOs can find value in attending industry events that are aimed at other members of the executive suite. These could be marketing forums, or conferences aimed at chief financial officers.

The demands on CIOs mean the technology group needs to be able to support a lot more than what they used to do, he says. “They are becoming more and more part of the real-time interactive components of the organisation."

CIOs need to build teams that can understand all of the nuances and aspects of new business models using digital and cloud technologies.

Andrew Crabb

"CIOs need to build teams that can understand all of the nuances and aspects of new business models using digital and cloud technologies," he states. These include team members who can implement agile methodologies, as well as architects, business analysts and project managers who can 'engage' or work closely with other business units.

Agenda: Agility

Paymark CIO Dhaya Sivakumar says this new environment for CIOs and their teams “requires very different thinking”.

Read more: Across the board

He says an approach he takes is ‘bi-modal IT'. The latter is a reference to Gartner’s approach to divide IT into two modes – agile and flexible, and a step by step approach that ensures efficiency and predictability.

We take existing teams to continue what they have been doing but we invest heavily in the R&D team.

Dhaya Sivakumar, Paymark

Read more: The State of the CIO 2015: The digital mindshift

“We take existing teams to continue what they have been doing but we invest heavily in the R&D team. It is essentially a team of dev testers developing new products and services in a very modern way,” he states.

Sivakumar is using agile methodologies and cloud platforms so he can work on “four or five streams of products at any given time”.

“By doing that, we have come up with some really good concepts not just into technology but from the product side as well.”

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Read more: How I became a CIO: Jason Millett and Kevin Angland share their journey

Speed and flexibility

“The reality of industrial-strength cloud computing is offering the potential to change the way we build services,” says Russell Jones, executive general manager technology and innovation at ASB.

“What that translates into is speed and flexibility. It gives our development teams the ability to be a lot more flexible and agile so that they can provision services a lot more quickly, and turn them off when they are not using them.

“We have multiple delivery teams and can remove constraints to their overall performance by leveraging the cloud capability to multi-thread and deliver services faster.

The days of massive, monolithic IT systems’ projects that last multiple years, and where you lay out all requirements and then freeze the business while you deliver the project…those days are long behind us.

Russell Jones, ASB

“The other big change is from our users: there is the general expectation that ASB will deliver faster to its customers, whether they are external or internal,” he says.

Another area of focus is the requirement to provide high levels of confidence and performance around information security, confidentiality and privacy – “and the ability to bring customers into that conversation”.

For instance, a lot of what ASB is doing on its mobile phone app is to give people control around their payment solutions, he says. If people worry about contactless cards, they have got the ability to turn their card on or off, and in the future, the ability to manage lots of other controls and limits around the payment capability.

“The days of massive, monolithic IT systems’ projects that last multiple years, and where you lay out all requirements and then freeze the business while you deliver the project…those days are long behind us.

“People’s expectations are hugely influenced by what you get now on your smart device; you get an app today and another version two months later. People just expect stuff to be easier and simpler.

“That is driving the way we think about everything we do,” says Jones.

Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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