For optimum success, encourage failure.
A contradiction in terms, yes, but Steve Prentice, vice president of analyst firm Gartner, says this is one strategy for enterprises to consider in the current economic environment.
Stories by Divina Paredes
For optimum success, encourage failure.
Vivian Chandra never forgets that a person living in a country with scant regard for democracy could get jailed for doing the job she does.
As IT manager for Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, Chandra runs the information technology side of the human rights organisation, but is also active in its campaigns.
Owen McCall, chief information officer of The Warehouse, gained a new title early this year: Wage slave. But that is only for his blog, http://viewfield1.blogspot.com/, which features “thought pieces on issues that are exercising my mind”, tackling both ICT and personal concerns.
McCall says he ventured into blogosphere following his interest in the hype around blogs, wikis, social networks and virtual words and their relevance, if any, to the corporate world. “It seemed to me the only way to really get to know something about them was to actively participate.”
Early this year, the offices of the Auckland office of systems integrator Gen-i were gutted, to make way for the move to a new office — in the same building.
When the employees returned, the cubicles of old and the warren of rooms were gone. In place were open-plan areas with desks that can be used by anyone, ‘quiet rooms’ that can be used for up to two hours, meeting rooms and phone booths.
Maria Martinez joined Bell Labs after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.
At that time, Martinez, now corporate vice-president of Microsoft Services, could count on both hands female colleagues working in ICT. She watched as the ratio of women in ICT improved, as more entered the sector through computer science and electrical engineering degrees.
Tony Lester is leaving chief information officer role at Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), after four and a half years.
Lester, a member of CIO magazine’s editorial advisory board, says he will stay in his post until January.
Air New Zealand is rolling out a series of technology projects that will include high-tech kiosks, gate scanners, RFID and boarding passes delivered via mobile phones for its domestic flights.
The technology upgrade aims to allow passengers to move quickly and seamlessly through domestic airports by minimising queues, cutting waiting time and making check-in and boarding as quick and easy as possible.
Managing IT often seems like managing the affairs of a rock band, with its curious mix of creative talent, volatile personalities, and lots of gear.
Management by walking around (MBWA) is a big part of Mainfreight, and critical in the success of the ICT team, declares Kevin Drinkwater, chief information officer of the supply chain logistics provider.
“One of our great philosophies is to visit our branches to gain an understanding of the business at the branch and finding out the issues that our team members have. So we watch what they are doing and ask them whether the systems do what they need. It has been amazing the improvements we have managed to create out of team members’ problems.
For three years, Simon Conroy’s career straddled the worlds of business and rock and roll.
Conroy, chief information officer of Flight Centre, was project manager at Freedom Air when he joined the rock band Redline as its bass guitarist.
Around the table
Kevin Ackhurst, managing director, Microsoft NZ
New Zealand is a “branch economy” of Australia whether you like it or not, says M. Gordon Hunter, professor, information systems at The University of Lethbridge in Canada and author of Contemporary Chief Information Officer: Management Experiences. “In other words, the head office is in Australia, the branch office is in New Zealand.
“The problem is when you have the branch office CTO called the CIO,” says Hunter, who has just completed a two-month teaching and research stint at Massey University. “You are limited by what you do.”
Hazel Jennings is working hard towards making her systems more customer-focused, though this isn’t because she is trying to expand her market. “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be here,” says Jennings, IT manager at the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. “It would be great if nobody needed us.”
She has a compact team — around five — composed of technical and non-technical staff and works with an outsourced infrastructure team.
Change management is already a given in the essential skills portfolio of CIOs.
These days, however, this skill extends to much more — applying it to an increasingly complex environment.
Richard Tims doesn’t believe in having a “strategic plan” for IT.
“It should, in essence, be part of [the] overall business strategic plan,” says Tims, chief information officer of Paymark, which owns the largest Eftpos switch in New Zealand. “All projects, IT or otherwise, are about business outcomes and need to be justified on that basis. I don’t think I am doing my job unless that is the case.”