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CIO Upfront: Challenging the status quo

CIO Upfront: Challenging the status quo

Chris Russell of Veeam writes about how CIOs are stepping up to the challenges of customer demand, new technologies, flat budgets and the ‘always on’ enterprise.


These days CIOs and IT leaders have a lot on their plate: business agility and efficiency, new technologies and enabling the always-on enterprise. Doing the same things and adopting the same technologies that everybody else already has doesn’t deliver the desired competitive advantage. If CIOs want to add business value and help their organisations get ahead, they’re going to need to take a few calculated risks and challenge the status quo – this means they need to innovate.

Every local business is facing the same challenges – exponential data growth, a constant stream of new technologies and flat budgets – but not everybody is tackling these issues in the same way. These challenges can hold your business back, but for those that adopt innovative solutions or fresh approaches they also represent a huge opportunity to get ahead of the competition by serving internal and external customers more effectively and efficiently.

The contemporary internal and external customer base is hugely demanding. Organisations need to cater to external customers that want to do online banking at 2am or shop at 9pm. They need to please tech savvy Gen Y internal customers as they move into the market. If businesses don’t have the technology that allows them to satisfy these demands, they will lose market share, business and brand reputation.

The exciting organisations and leaders to watch are those that have the foresight to see where the technology is going and take a calculated risk to be early adopters of innovation.

Chris Russell, Veeam

The CIO as a driver of change

The CIO will play a critical role in exploiting opportunities working hand in hand with IT. IT must deliver value by enabling growth and directly impacting business outcomes. Furthermore, the pace of change is much faster with time-to-value as a key metric. The old plan/build/run model of IT development and delivery is not capable of meeting the demands for innovation, flexibility, and faster delivery cycles that are the hallmark of contemporary businesses.

To meet the challenges of digital disruption, a new operating model is needed that can leverage innovative technologies for the core infrastructure and modern data centre which includes cloud and virtualisation, while sourcing alternatives to satisfy the expectations of internal and external customers. This needs to be done within a landscape where staying on 100 per cent of the time and providing access to core systems and data is becoming more of a reality. To achieve this level of availability requires investing in technologies such as mobility and cloud; something that needs to be driven by the CIO.

The growth in investment in cloud technology

According to the CSC Global CIO Survey 2014-2015, cloud initiatives figure prominently in most organisations' overall budgets in some form or another. 80 per cent of respondents across all industries reported moderate to heavy investing in private cloud and 76 per cent of respondents across all industries reported moderate to heavy investing in hybrid cloud.

Almost 75 per cent of IT/telecommunications organisations say cloud technology is a high or critical priority over the next 12 months. Innovation in these technology areas is a key part of creating competitive advantage and staying ahead of the pack.

A leadership position

CIOs need to take the leadership position in business transformation, maintaining influence over technology acquisition, deployment, and spending. Running IT as a business is an essential element in this equation. If IT is not perceived as being a transparent, credible, and reliable provider of services at competitive prices, then it is doubtful it will succeed in making the transformation.

A number of New Zealand businesses prefer to work with a partner that has a local presence with a local data centre and a local cloud. Businesses can get the advantages of innovation, economies of scale, agility and faster resolution by leveraging a private or public cloud operated by a local provider. Cloud technology has matured to the point where cloud-based alternatives, either public, private, or hybrid, are viable for most situations, however there remain some concerns around the use of public cloud for various industries or specific types of data.

Organisations can still get the benefits of modern technology by having a sound cloud strategy that includes a mix of private and hybrid cloud with public cloud being leveraged for specific applications. CIOs need to embrace a cloud strategy but they should have a cloud governance framework specific to their business in order to realise the potential benefits of speed, efficiency and in some cases the cost benefits that may be inherent in cloud technologies.

Read more: No shortcuts to becoming a digital business

True innovation

CIOs are the strategic enablers that lead their organisations through transformation. The business is looking for IT not just to support innovation, but also to be a source of innovation. True innovation comes from brave IT leaders that aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Those that rise to the challenge of change will be the organisations that are at the forefront of their respective industries responding to their customers’ demands in a competitive marketplace.

The exciting organisations and leaders to watch are those that have the foresight to see where the technology is going and take a calculated risk to be early adopters of innovation. These CIOs challenge the status quo by adopting a strategy that gives them significant capability in automation while catering to a specific cost envelope. They meet the demands of a flat budget and combat this with new capabilities that put them on a great footing for the future. They’re more agile, nimble and able to respond to market drivers and the demand for always-on availability.


Chris Russell is regional enterprise manager, ANZ for Veeam Software.


Read more: How to navigate the DX (digital transformation) economy: IDC

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