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State of the CIO 2014: Treading new ground

Divina Paredes | June 12, 2014
Our annual State of the CIO research reveals how digitisation is prompting CIOs to apply their skills in leading transformation programs to their own roles.

"And so from the start, we adopted a BYOD approach and we think it is important not the least for employee engagement," says Fleming. "If people have got much better technology at home and in their personal lives and then they come to work and they are heavily restricted, it becomes an engagement issue for us."

Trusted peers and advisors

Rhoda Phillippo, director of technology at Infratil Group, says when an organisation starts a transformation program, the most successful CIOs are the ones that team up strategically with the business unit owners of the change they are trying to make.

It could be working with the CFO for a billing project, or with head of sales and marketing for an online digital program. "That partnership makes the CIO more effective other than just becoming the technology provider of a business plan."

She says another thing CIOs can do is to set aside a budget every year for "play money". This money, can be spent, for instance, on trialling smart marketing ideas. "Have at least a couple of those running in a year and see how it works," says Phillippo.

More CIO appointments?

Phillippo of Infratil says the CIO role is found in corporates, but when it came to small and medium enterprises they had IT directors instead. "They basically have somebody looking after their infrastructure.

"Whereas now, businesses are realising with this digital revolution it does mean if you do not have somebody focusing on technology in the same way that you have a specialist lawyer or specialist financial officer, then you are actually missing a huge business opportunity.

The CIO role should be focusing on how to better service the business so it can become faster. Luis Carselle, ISACA

She cites the case at Wellington International Airport, a part of the Infratil Group, which created a CIO role. The head of IT, Gavin Ng, was involved in getting the right infrastructure in place, but the airport could do so much more with the information it has from parking systems, airlines and retailers, among others. "They need a much broader BI [business intelligence] strategy," says Phillippo. "They needed to be able to understand technologies that may help the airport compete more effectively. "That role could not have be buried under the CFO. It needed to be separate and given a voice at the table to optimise competitive opportunity."

She sees more organisations doing this, and these need not be corporates.

For Luis Carselle, vice president of ISACA, there remains one key goal of the CIO across sectors. "Today, not just in IT, the organisations have to move fast because of all the competition," he explains. "It is very hard to maintain competitive advantage, whether one is in financial or marketing. One day you invent something, the competition will catch up very fast."


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