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Guest view: The role of the Asian CIO

John Hines | Feb. 11, 2014
How the role of the CIO has evolved and how the cloud has facilitated the transformation.

John Hines
Photo: John Hines

New technologies such as mobile and cloud computing have revolutionised the way companies operate and, at the same time, modified both the expectations of senior executives and those of the employees. The confluence of technology and business has seen CIOs gone from simply managing the cost center to conducting the business.

According to Deloitte, IT budgets in Southeast Asia on average allocate 52 percent to activities that would enable change and growth to the business, compared to the global average of 42 percent. This indicates a growing recognition of the IT function in actualising business objectives.

Today, CIOs are doing more than simply providing basic services and applications for the organisation's operations. The role of IT has expanded from infrastructure provision to becoming an integral part of the interaction process between organisations and their stakeholders.

The modern CIO is thus obliged to shift IT focus from operationalisation to the next level—pursuing quality for the organisation by adding value and increasing efficiency through the use of technology.

For CIOs and their IT teams, this means going beyond the simple management of IT infrastructures such as storage, computer systems and networking to direct management of the performance of mission-critical applications. As a result, the management process is more streamlined, making the CIO and the IT team directly responsible for the performance of critical applications, such as sales management and e-commerce.

How cloud is facilitating this shift
Cloud computing has a significant part in facilitating the transition of the role played by the CIO and the IT team, from technology management to the dissemination of strategic technologies.

According to Deloitte, 77 percent of CIOs and senior IT executives in Southeast Asia are either researching or piloting a cloud solution, with a further 11 percent having already adopted it.

With cloud, operations that used to be manual are now automated. This has allowed CIOs and IT teams to focus more on initiatives that can increase efficiency and add value to the organisation.

An example might be a request by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for the CIO to procure a new database that maintains consumer data, with the aim of being able to contact the same customers again at a later time to offer them additional services.

Prior to the emergence of cloud computing, the traditional solution would be to buy and allocate new servers—usually in-house—for the database. With cloud computing, a good vendor would be able to offer a solution that requires far less in terms of cost, implementation and deployment compared to the traditional solution.

Given this better solution made possible by cloud, the CIO is able to make decisions based on quality. By opting for a cloud solution, the CIO achieves two quality objectives: firstly, value is added by equipping the CMO with a new database that could potentially lead to an increase in earnings; and secondly, the decision to deploy a cloud solution, instead of buying and allocating new servers, increases the overall efficiency of the data management process.


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