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Leading through massive change

Leading through massive change

Key takeaways from the CIO Summit 2010

This week’s CIO Summit in Auckland underscores the key challenges and opportunities for CIOs in a constantly changing environment. The challenges include changes in the CIO role itself and how they ensure they, and their team, will continue to deliver business value.

“If you don’t challenge the assumptions about what you’re doing or how to do it, sooner or later you’ll become irrelevant,” says Dr Peter Wilton, a professors Haas School of Business, University of California in Berkeley.

He advises CIOs to have a “clearly articulated strategy” relevant to their stakeholders. “If the stakeholders don’t get enough value from us they’ll outsource us.”

Vernon Turner, senior vice president, enterprise infrastructure, consumer and telecom research at IDC, says IT has become much more complex, with the recent wave of ICT innovations and business models.

Consumerisation of IT, as an example, bring both blessings and challenges. “Our survey found 9 percent of business units are using Twitter to conduct commerce. Who’s tracking the legality of that transaction? Just because two people had a conversation, it may or may not be a binding contract,” says Turner.

Turnver predicts more complexity in the years ahead. The influx of new applications will be a flood, he says, akin to the arrival of PCs in the 1990s.

Conference chair Peter Macaulay of IDC, says the two-day conference presented a range of issues and lessons for CIOs. One of them was about relationships with both internal and external customers. “This group of CIOs today are actually very passionate about looking after customers and listening to them.

“I don’t think there is anyone here who did not take on board the messages from the speakers on becoming a customer-focused CIO,” says Macaualy.

One of the speakers, Hamish Grant, CIO of EziBuy, recommends producing a list of the top priorities from an IT point of view and get the management team to rank them. “See if their priorities are the same as yours … you may be surprised,” he said.

“IT should have eyes on both sides of its head,” says Grant. “One set on the external customers and one set on the internal customers.

In his keynote address, André Mendes, CIO/CTO of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, underscores a positive impact of the recession.

“We emerge from every recession on a new wave of technology,” he tells the audience.

He cites how the recession in the early ‘80s was the time of PCs, client/servers and MRPs, and with them the precursor of today’s ERP systems emerged. The early ‘90s saw the rise of ERPs, optical networks and the internet. “The turn of the century brought about mobile phones, social networks and genomics. “What new wave will this recession bring to the table?”

Mendes says the environment of constant change places huge demands on CIOs, who are tasked to maintain current systems while building for tomorrow. Building of abstraction layers is essential for survival, he says. His advice? “Consolidate it, virtualise it, co-locate it, cloud it!”

He also called on CIOs to get out of their comfort zones and learn more about the business and related industries.

CIOs need to leverage their “helicopter view of the enterprise”, he says. They have the added advantage of getting to know the entire organisation when they implemented various projects, from ERP to supply-chain deployments.

Mendes ends his presentation with an admonition for CIOs that opportunities abound in a number of ways. “You have created the trampoline for the next jump with every legacy migration, with every enterprise wide deployment, with every painful upgrade, with every failure as well as with every success.”

More than 500 CIOs and other ICT executives attended this year’s Summit, organised by CIO magazine, IDC and BrightStar.

Next year’s CIO Summit will be held on July 19 and 20 at SkyCity Convention Centre, in Auckland.

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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Tags leadershipIDCvendor managementchangeCIO Summit

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