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Stories by Vikki Bland

Thriving through the downturn

An analysis of the top projects CIOs have undertaken in the past year, and plan to undertake in the next 12 months, reveals CIOs are increasingly taking on the mantle of chief transformation officers.
Transformation is a key theme for CIOs this year, says Computerworld editor Rob O’Neill, in his analysis of the research findings in this year’s MIS100, the annual report on the leading ICT user organisations in New Zealand.

Written by Vikki Bland04 Aug. 09 22:00

MIS100 2009: Top ten trends 2009

1 The Recession: It’s official
This year all senior ICT executives acknowledge the recession, but its impact varies.

Written by Vikki Bland15 July 09 22:00

Tech Nation 08: The ICT tools powering New Zealand

It will not be news to vendors, or CIOs, that the New Zealand ICT market is considered a one-off. Unable to be compared closely with the Australian market, and barely at all with ICT trends in the wider Asia Pacific region (an area of boom growth for ICT vendors), New Zealand stands alone as a mature ICT market populated with savvy, closely networked CIOs and strategists. If ICT vendors fail to approach New Zealand as an individual market, they often fail to approach it at all.
Of course, some international ICT brands decide the size of the New Zealand ICT market is not worth putting people on the ground for, leaving their Australian offices to work out how to sell and support from across the Tasman. Others put a skeleton sales crew to work in Auckland or Wellington, armed only with contracts and reassurances of on-tap international support via phone and online service channels. It’s a strategy that rarely works — New Zealand is a small country whose ICT executives operate as a community and know a ‘thin blue line’ of support when they see one.

Written by Vikki Bland10 July 08 22:00

MIS100 2008: Top 10 trends

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.

Written by Vikki Bland12 May 08 22:00

On-top of your game?

The enemy of ongoing education for any executive is undoubtedly time, while New Zealand’s ICT executives say there’s also a dearth of useful educational opportunities to fit those limited time frames — particularly a lack of online learning opportunities and courses with practical, real world content.
Robin Johansen, chief information officer for Beca Corporate, says while he has embraced a number of learning styles, he is unlikely to attend courses or seminars that don’t have “immediate utility” and is more likely to pay for an online course that can be used to meet immediate needs.

Written by Vikki Bland09 March 08 22:00

Controlling information effectively

The saying ‘rust never sleeps’ could apply equally well to the deterioration of data accuracy and access within organisations.
Despite the use of ever-improved business intelligence (BI) and reporting tools; new data, created daily by different people, doesn’t always end up where it is supposed to.

Written by Vikki Bland05 Feb. 08 22:00

The journey to an integrated enterprise

By 2006, rapid growth had forced the IT team of energy generator Genesis Energy to a fallback position, which saw it working directly with multiple ICT vendors to develop solutions for immediate needs. Multiple ‘point’ IT solutions were developed for the organisation’s four North Island plants, leading to over-development, poor documentation and process inefficiencies.
With 480 staff, 200 servers, 750 desktops, and more than 70 business applications developed under a ‘best of breed’ approach, Genesis’ IT group was split into three groups by necessity – one each to manage service, projects, and technology solutions. Support costs spiralled, were often not budgeted for, and were inversely proportional to the cost of the original solution, says technology manager Marie Boyle. She says Genesis Energy needed integrated and re-usable IT solutions that fitted a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Written by Vikki Bland10 Dec. 07 22:00

Agile transformers

Aga Webb, online director for Dell Asia Pacific, says whether she is talking to CIOs in Japan or New Zealand, a recurring theme is the need for IT initiatives that allow organisations to face new challenges and innovate within constrained IT budgets. And she says Dell is no different – the direct seller faces increased globalisation, the need to standardise IT and business models across multi-cultural regions and time zones, and has to transform and tap into new markets including retail.
“As a US company, we have our own ideas about how the world should work, but then we come into Asia Pacific countries and we get surprised around things like local issues, and legal and infrastructure requirements,” says Webb, who is based in Japan.

Written by Vikki Bland09 Dec. 07 22:00

On a budget… and keeping to it

Stephen Tame, CIO for Australian budget airline Jetstar, knows an awful lot about how to run ICT operations on a shoestring.
Jetstar, an independent subsidiary of Qantas, is already around three quarters of the size of Air New Zealand, clams Tame, and yet gets by on a lean and mean ICT team of six. However, there are no entry-level programmers in this half-dozen — all are senior-level ICT managers responsible for managing ICT supplier relationships.

Written by Vikki Bland04 Dec. 07 22:00

Tales from an application upgrade

Global agricultural systems developer and manufacturer Tru-Test (which employs more than 400 staff and develops milk metering, electronic livestock weighing systems and electric fencing systems among other things) is reaping the benefits of using vanilla, off-the-shelf ERP applications after years of relying on heavily-customised software.
Tru-Test group IS manager Claudia Vidal says with products distributed to more than 70 countries worldwide and nine legacy software platforms, Tru-Test needed to standardise and consolidate its software applications to aid business processing and create new efficiencies.

Written by Vikki Bland02 Dec. 07 22:00

The new power play

Imagine the simplicity, business benefit and operational savings that could result from consolidating 21 operational databases into a single data source.
Chris Corke, chief information officer for the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX), imagined just this - then drove the project that delivered it.

Written by Vikki Bland27 Feb. 05 22:00

Inside 'The Firm'

Legal practices may appear staid and polished from the outside, but Linda Robles, IS manager for law firm Bell Gully, knows client demands and a time critical industry present a distinct set of challenges.
When Linda Robles, national systems development manager for law firm Bell Gully, helped implement an organisation-wide document management system project, she found there was no substitute for experience.

Written by Vikki Bland30 Jan. 05 22:00

The guardian

Although Allan Sainsbury’s three adult children have left home, he is far from free of responsibility. As chief information officer for the Department of Child, Youth and Family (CYF), Sainsbury and his 45-person IT team feel the pressure of ensuring the data in CYF systems is secure, well-maintained and has integrity.

Written by Vikki Bland30 Oct. 03 22:00

Stop the bloodshed

The industry farming supplier Farmlands Trading Society serves is, by necessity, not particularly squeamish. However, when faced with the prospect of an operating system upgrade costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees, Farmlands decided to put an end to what it perceived as business bloodshed.
“On one hand, we had Microsoft bleeding us for licence fees. On the other, it was SCO for Unix. I can’t stand parting with money for software licensing, and the costs were getting annoying,” says Craig Waterhouse, commercial manager and ‘honorary’ chief information officer for Farmlands.

Written by Vikki Bland31 Aug. 03 22:00