Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, is not raring to reprise the 1969 trip on board the Apollo 11. Aldrin, now 80, can make better use of his time on earth, he tells CIO during a recent trip to Auckland.
Stories by Divina Paredes
ANZ New Zealand officially opened this morning its state-of-the-art, world class datacentre in Auckland built for a total of $78 million.
The 4000 metre² purpose-built centre houses what is believed to be the most advanced data centre in New Zealand and sets the benchmark for such facilities, says ANZ in a press statement.
What will be the standout business and technology challenges in the post-recessionary environment? We canvass a panel of executives and analysts on what to do now for the organisation, the ICT team and your career. <strong>Deliver customer value<em>Jonathan Iles, CIO, Carter Holt Harvey</em></strong>During the financial crisis that saw enterprises pulling the plug or holding off on key programmes, Jonathan Iles and his team were working on "fairly major projects"."In fact, there will be more this year," says the chief information officer of Carter Holt Harvey. As he tells his team, "We are sailing into the perfect storm. So let us batten down the hatches, get those ships ready so that when we go into this, we are highly motivated, we know what we are doing, and we manage to hold everything together."He says with the past year the focus of ICT at CHH was delivering customer value, and this will continue in the next 12 months. "2010 will still be very much moving into value and improving the relationships with our customers."The projects around this range from an ERP upgrade to what Iles calls "very basic things", like CRM and pricing and invoicing systems. "This means our customers, people who buy our wood products, our pulp paper, our packaging; they have a better experience for us so we go for greater market share. That is what really drives most value to the business."As well, the team is preparing for shifts throughout the year. "I expect to see some major structural changes in the business over the next 12 to 18 months and that is going to add to a lot of projects at the same time," says Iles. "We need to maintain the high quality of infrastructure delivery, despite the fact that we are containing costs.""We are driving really hard on infrastructure," he says. "We have made some major savings that allowed us to spend more money on ERP, without increasing the budget.""This is about, 'How do I align with the business strategy? Am I implementing the right strategy to fit the business?'"Like his executive colleagues, the past year has delivered a handful of lessons for Iles. Foremost is, "You need to be ruthless with your business cases." The second is the value of having flexible contracts with key vendors. "This flexibility should enable no-penalty changes to be made -- including the ability to terminate services at no cost," says Iles.CHH renegotiated several key contracts at the beginning of last year to introduce competition into the relationships, with the result that costs for several services dropped significantly. This exercise will be done this year. "When the economic climate changes quickly, having long-term, inflexible contracts can be a major burden," he says.Another key lesson during the economic slowdown was the importance of having variable costs. For instance, says Iles, if the company sells a business unit, there is no proportionate reduction in software and hardware maintenance. "We would like to reduce the cost proportionally. The only way you can do that is by variable cost," says Iles. "Most of our costs are fixed, but we certainly want to move to a more variable cost model," which he notes is the promise of cloud computing.As for post-recession plans, Iles foresees a busier period ahead. "For me, post-recession means a surge of activity and I can see that that is going to be coming."Interestingly, one of his major activities last year was far removed from ICT. Iles joined Pat O'Connell, CIO of Rank Group, of which CHH is a subsidiary, and Glenda Mullany of IT firm The Tango Group, to complete a series of endurance challenges to raise funds for charity. The group's "<a href="http://cio.co.nz/cio.nsf/spot/AFD817D770AAD3B6CC25767D007DE7A1?Opendocument&HighLight=2,peak,stop">final challenge </a>was scaling the four highest mountains in the North Island -- Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu and Taranaki mountains. They achieved this in November and raised more than NZ$22,000 for the Kia Timata Ano Trust, a women's refuge in Rodney. (See http://cio.co.nz/cio.nsf/spot/AFD817D770AAD3B6CC25767D007DE7A1?Opendocument&HighLight=2,peak,stop)For Iles, there is a message here that resonates with his full-on schedule at CHH. "It just shows our team we can cope with a heavy workload and still have time to give to the community." <strong>Strengthen ICT engagement with the business <em>Paul Nickels, partner, business assurance, PricewaterhouseCoopers NZ </em></strong>Everything is up for review and challenged constantly. This is the "<a href="http://cio.co.nz/cio.nsf/focus/E26CAA02FB540ABACC2576E5002BDE02">new normal"</a> for today's enterprises, says Paul Nickels, partner, business assurance at PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand. Nickels is referring to the McKinsey Report on the restructuring of the economic order and the constant change that lies ahead for everyone.So what will this mean for CIOs? "Get out of their office, connect more with their peers in the business, understand what is going to drive that change," says Nickels. The CIO's task now is to consider how, "they will engage more with the business," he says, and "how do they become a business partner and what areas of value do they see that they can add with their ideas."He says pressure is being placed on CIOs, and all parts of the organisation, as enterprises look at the value of operations and where they might drive costs down.So these types of engagement are important in the coming 12 months. CIOs have to be engaged in those upfront discussions on business strategy, he says. "The more they are engaged in those discussions, the better their ability to influence the direction and the better their ability to really execute what the organisation requires."There is, he points out, always a "strong healthy tension between IT and the business" that some call business alignment. This is manifested in CIOs whose portfolios have expanded to areas outside ICT. "I can think of a handful or organisations now where the CIO is part of the change agent group of the organisation, they are involved in all of the big projects."This is the space Nickels says CIOs should be working on in the next 12 months. It starts with having a bond with business peers. "There has got to be a level of respect for each other's disciplines," says Nickels. "You have got to understand the strengths of the parties and what they will bring."He says CIOs who have achieved this have made time for themselves and their teams to connect within the organisation. They are able to answers questions in regards to their IT spend, benchmarking and cost of service.He says PwC works with CIOs to create a "story board" discussion with their peers. The process enables CIOs to articulate their views on key questions such as, "What is going on in technology at this point in time and what is your plan and what do you plan to do? What has been in your agenda in the last period of time? Where are your areas of focus?"With a CIO's busy schedule, "there is often no time for self reflection". But Nickels says this exercise is important, and CIOs should be able to articulate these points to the business. CIOs who have already reached this stage can then take a closer look at the business model, and see where they can add value. "They need to be braver in experimentation, try new things, and be a little bit more agile."Those who have achieved this have the respect of their peers and their teams have a very commercial view and understanding of the business. "They know where the pain points are. They will be on top of those, and are in a position to offer alternatives and solutions."<strong>Throw out the old rules <em>Peter Macaulay, principal, end user practice, IDC New Zealand</em></strong>This will be a year of frustrating shifts and crazy trends, says Peter Macaulay, principal, end user practice at IDC New Zealand. "Most of the issues we have been grappling with will continue to demand attention, and in some cases evolve into fearsome monsters. Many will mellow and some will fade away," says Macaulay.Of these diverse issues, he picks up three fundamental shifts CIOs will be forced to adjust to -- mobility going "mad", CIOs being "kidnapped" by social networking and the CIO career path demanding attention."The evolution of the CIO into a more effective strategist will increase the risk/benefit spread in the ways that these shifts are addressed," he says.His views were shaped by his discussions with senior CIOs and industry visionaries, and the following IDC New Zealand ICT Top 10 Predictions 2010 (see IDCresearch.co.nz):
Tanya Harris was head of human resources at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in Wellington when she made a lateral career move.
CFOs are taking a more prominent role in enterprise decision-making.
“The CFOs are in the boardroom and executive level discussions and carry more weight than ever,” says Gary Obbes, consultant in financial management practice, IBM New Zealand.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has disestablished the CIO role.
David Spaziani is leaving first week of March following changes in the ICT infrastructure, which will be now under Stephen Crombie, general manager, government technology services.
Alan Hesketh has resigned as deputy director general, information directorate, National Health Board business Unit at the Ministry of Health.
He is moving to Brisbane, Australia, where he will take on another executive role.
ICT employers are the most optimistic in hiring expectations, with more than 40 percent saying they plan to hire more permanent staff in the next three months, according to recruitment firm Hudson.
The latest Hudson Report: Employment Expectations, reveals hiring expectations among New Zealand employers have increased for the third consecutive quarter.
A Formula One racing car and heart surgery are not usually mentioned in the same breath to describe an ICT project.
A number of New Zealand enterprises block their staff from accessing social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube.
But it is the features that make these websites so popular that Cisco has incorporated into its Enterprise Collaboration Platform.
“You can get anywhere one step at a time! What seemed impossible at the outset slowly and steadily became possible as we put one foot in front of the other.”
Recruitment firm Hudson says 25 percent of employers in the IT industry intend to hire more permanent staff in the coming three months.
The latest “Hudson Report: Hiring Expectations” shows the IT sector also leads among other industries, such as professional services, manufacturing, retail, construction/property/engineering and government, in their perception of hiring expectations.
Air New Zealand CIO Julia Raue encourages her team to work across various areas of the business, to “look behind the scenes” and see what happens at airports.
This way, they stay in touch with the customers and the people they support in the different areas of the business. “It is important they understand what they are trying to change or what they are trying to enhance,” says Raue.
Owen McCall, CIO of The Warehouse, has of late been involved in online games and is encouraging other ICT executives to do the same.
He is one of the organisers of the Life Game Project, which aims to use immersive games technology to "develop life skills and positive lifestyle choices" for New Zealanders aged five to 19.
The New Zealand Automobile Association (NZ AA) used to send some 400,000 letters to prospective customers for its insurance business AA Life each year. The call centre would then follow up those letters with a phone call.
Two years ago, NZ AA deployed business analytical tools from SAS that identified which customers would most likely respond to such a campaign, and sent the letters to this group. As a result the volume of marketing mail has been greatly reduced, along with the number of follow up calls by call centre agents. Moreover, response rates have improved by more than 50 per cent and even doubled, says Mark McCabe, senior marketing manager for NZ AA.