1. Devolving of the CIO role This year marks the beginning of a trend in which some CIO positions have been devolved through business acquisitions and mergers, or through organisational restructuring.
Last year we became aware that many CIO roles were becoming more strategic; this year sees a schism, with a proportion of CIO positions devolving. The resulting ICT executive is more likely to report to the CFO than the CEO, and less likely to sit on the board. The trend is causing consternation among CIOs who see their role as that of a business executive rather than ICT specialist.
2. Negative economic impact
While there is debate over the impact of a softening economy, no one is arguing the reality.
In a marked departure from previous years, all senior ICT executives say the current global economy is of concern. Exporters and manufacturers have been hit particularly hard, with their ICT executives asked to shelve low-priority ICT projects. Public sector organisations remain somewhat cushioned from market forces, with most ICT initiatives proceeding as normal.
3. SOA and ITIL going strong
‘Service Oriented Architecture’ rules in 2008.
There’s less noise about following ITIL processes this year, but senior ICT executives still have plenty to say about the pursuit of service oriented architecture. Working within pre-defined frameworks and standards to achieve ICT goals is initially expensive, but it is a long-term viable approach to streamlined and more affordable ICT operations say CIOs.
4. The cost of compliance
A Government focused on new laws and compliance requirements creates a major headache for most organisations.
The tertiary and health sectors continue to struggle with new funding models as financial institutions work overtime to provide reliable operating procedures for KiwiSaver, along with e-business advice and services; while everyone is catching up with the compliance requirements of the Public Records Act, the Criminal Justice Act, KiwiSaver and changes to the Holiday’s Act. At a time when ICT budgets are tight, many ICT executives resent the need to invest heavily in systems that solely support compliance.
5. Sustainability spreads its wings
Caring for the environment and reaping the parallel corporate kudos and energy cost savings are high on the agenda for most organisations.
Last year, senior ICT executives spoke hesitantly about the need to reduce the ‘carbon footprint’ of their organisations. This year sustainability is serious business, with CEO’s declaring themselves ‘passionate’ about the issue and potential employees using sustainability effort as a benchmark for the quality of an organisation. ICT executives have risen to the call — most have a clear view of sustainability goals going forward.
6. Demand for telecommunications transparency and flexibility
Regulation in the telecommunications sector is yesterday’s news — ICT executives now want results.
National broadband performance is off the discussion list, with the spotlight switching to dissatisfaction with billing and customisation of products and services. While New Zealand’s key suppliers are achieving good levels of customer satisfaction, ICT executives would like to better understand what makes up their monthly telecommunications bill. They also want suppliers to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to products and services.
7. Consolidation and virtualisation
Delighted with the cost savings, ICT executives have pushed infrastructure consolidation and virtualisation to the top of the list.
A small number of organisations remain sceptical about the benefits of software and server virtualisation, along with mass consolidation of systems and applications. For everyone else, it’s full steam ahead. Use of VMWare solutions looms large, and operational budgets continue to benefit. Those savings are being re-directed into capital expenditure, including application development and heightened investment in communication technologies including VoIP.
8. Communications taken to a new level
The term ‘unified communications’ has passed the eye-rolling stage for most ICT executives.
Healthcare organisations, schools, government departments and universities are leading the way for the use of video in merged communication systems — mainly to facilitate collaboration and shared teaching resources. As well, a number of organisations are looking at ways to leverage under-used VoIP infrastructure by implementing their first IP-based unified communications applications. Cisco, Nortel and Microsoft are leading the charge in bringing the service to large New Zealand organisations. However, ICT executives with significant budget pressure have temporarily shelved unified communications progress in favour of consolidation initiatives.
9. Mixed reaction to vendor mergers
It’s happening, but who is affected most?
Private sector organisations are more philosophical about continued vendor acquisitions and mergers than those in the public sector. Private sector CIOs point out that while vendor mergers reduce competition and drive up pricing, organisations tend to decide on particular vendors anyway, after which the 'cost of exit' is high and therefore avoided. But public sector executives are perturbed, saying some key public sector applications are now held in a monopoly by one vendor.
10. Staff recruitment and retention issues worsen
Senior ICT managers accept the ICT skills crisis will not abate any time soon.
Rather than hand-wringing there has been a shift in recruitment and retention thinking this year, with senior ICT managers accepting the status quo and embarking upon training and strategies designed to deliver results in particular HR markets — such as generational trends for example. Graduate programmes are being ramped up accordingly; as are international searches, particularly for business analysts and project managers.
Fairfax Business Media
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