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The changing world of the CIO

The changing world of the CIO

Three dynamic words are at the core of this year’s CIO Summit – transformation, innovation and collaboration.

Three dynamic words are at the core of this year’s CIO Summit – transformation, innovation and collaboration. With the consequences of the economic recession still lingering, many CIOs now find themselves in a situation where they are asked to deliver innovation on a flat or reducing budget, says Peter Macaulay, principal of end user practice at IDC New Zealand.

The CIO Summit, organised by CIO Magazine, IDC and conference company BrightStar, aims to explore how roles are changing in the IT landscape and how CIOs can keep delivering value on a tight budget.

Owen McCall, CIO of the Warehouse, is one of 13 CIOs on the advisory council for the 2010 CIO Summit.

Ultimately, it is through transformation, innovation and collaboration that IT delivers value to an organisation, says McCall. “And they represent the perennial issues that as a CIO, you need to deal with. How can you use technology to help drive those three things?” he says.

The first presentation of the conference, ‘The CIO as strategist: Architecting for leadership, growth and innovation’ by Dr Peter Wilton, senior lecturer at the Haas School of Business, University of California in Berkeley, will address some of those challenges, says McCall.

Another session not to miss is ‘Preparing the CIO for the next wave of ICT innovation’, presented by Vernon Turner, IDC’s senior vice president of enterprise infrastructure; consumer and telecom research, says McCall.

Among other things, this presentation will look at sustainability as a driver of efficiency. “Sustainability, particularly in ICT, has been incorrectly politicised – when we [really] should be looking at sustainability as a way to drive efficiencies throughout all of our major supply chains,” says Turner.

This would result in more competitive organisations and less wasteful municipal entities. It could also lead to a long-term positive impact on a nation’s GDP, says Turner.

“As a consequence of such a move, industry and society would be much more environmentally friendly,” he adds.

The way businesses engage with technology is changing, says McCall, and this is driven partly by employees being influenced by what they see and do as consumers.

“Social media tools, such as Facebook, Youtube and Skype, are affecting the way people perceive technology and the way technology is driven inside organisations,” says McCall.

Consequently, in many organisations, the use of technology is driven by business units – not the CIO. As more and more of operational matters become outsourced or run-of-the-mill, the CIO’s role re-focuses on strategy and innovation, and gluing technology across the organisation together, he says.

At the same time, there is a recession-related change in the reporting structure in many organisations, where the CIO now reports to the CFO or COO. This could potentially lead to clouds on the horizon, according to Macaulay.

“You are putting someone who is expected to deliver innovation and broad-reaching strategic solutions for an organisation underneath someone who is typically looking at how to control and manage costs,” he says.

In general, there has also been a reduction of CIO roles both in government and the private sector in the last couple of years, largely driven by economic issues.

“We’ve got a little hiatus in this space, which is a bit of a worry at the moment,” says Macaulay.

However, he thinks this will change as organisations start recognising the need to see technology as an organisation-wide enabler and the significant role the CIO plays in making that reality.

Crisis driven innovation

Andre Mendes, CIO/CTO of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors — International, is pushing the boundaries with his presentation on crisis driven innovation.

“The subject of crisis-driven innovation is very near and dear to my heart,” says Mendes. “I believe that true progress is rarely achieved in the absence of powerful evolutionary pressures. Much like in Darwinian evolution, individuals, families, tribes, organisations, countries and cultures are prompted to innovate mostly when their previous inertia creates an untenable situation by virtue of change in the rest of the environment.”

He says much of his own growth as a professional has been driven not by his successes, but by his failures.

“Funny, how prospective employers look at your previous successes when, if they were smart, should be looking at your ability to learn from your failures,” says Mendes.

McCall also rates St John CIO Peter McDowall’s presentation highly – about supporting a better quality of life in New Zealand.

“Personally, I am passionate about giving back to the community. As an industry, we don’t do enough to help New Zealand move ahead as a country and as a society,” says McCall.

While the international keynote speakers will give a heads-up on what is happening around the world and provide valuable knowledge from their respective areas, the panel discussions, where people share their own stories, also promise to be interesting with good lessons to learn, says Macaulay.

One presentation he looks forward to in particular is ‘The state of New Zealand telecommunications today’ by Rosalie Nelson, telecommunications research manager, IDC, and Michael Wigley, solicitor of Wigley & Company.

“They are two very interesting characters, with a huge amount of knowledge, coming from different angles on the telco side,” he says. “I think it will be an informative and enormously entertaining presentation.”

CIO of the Year award

The 2010 CIO of the Year will be announced at the CIO Summit. Last year’s winner was Julia Raue, CIO of Air New Zealand. Raue successfully delivered online and customer self-service projects that are earning praise across the world, while leading an innovative IT team that is closely aligned with the executive team and business stakeholders. Virtual teams consisting of business and ICT members at Air New Zealand worked together to develop innovative products such as grabaseat, ePass and myairnz.

The CIO of the Year award celebrates the success of an individual CIO, but the distinction is also a celebration for the CEO and board of that organisation – the outstanding performance of a great CIO is usually backed up by an organisation that is doing well. By rewarding world-class accomplishments, the award also encourages others to move towards the goals achieved by the award-winning CIO.

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