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The CIO renaissance: From the backroom to the boardroom

Ron Totton, Managing Director of Southeast Asia, BT Global Services | March 24, 2015
Ron Totton, Managing Directorof Southeast Asia,BT Global Services, takes a look at the role of the CIO amid unprecedented change and digital disruptionin the industry

Embracing Shadow IT and Riding Trends
One of the areas in which CIOs can demonstrate creativity is in how they are embracing "shadow IT", a trend that seemingly challenges their position within the company.Shadow IT refers to the growing practice of business departments, such as finance or marketing, purchasing their own IT solutions. Eighty two per cent of CIOs in Singapore,and 76 per cent globally, see such a practice within their organisations.

While CIOs used to possess sole responsibility over core IT systems in their organisations,this status quo is fast evaporating, and in some cases, they appear to be losing control of the organisation's IT estate as individual departments source their own IT products and services, often with little or no input from the IT department.

Paradoxically, this apparent loss of control is an opportunity for the CIOs to reinforce their authority. The growing confidence of departments in buying their own IT solutions allows CIOs to shift their focus away from hands-on IT support and operations to a more strategic role centred on advice, governance and security. Providing counsel to colleagues on how to innovate or boost efficiencies with new technology enables the CIO to assume the position of a strategic business leader rather than simply a tactical gatekeeper of IT systems.

Nevertheless, the appetite for business units going it alone is inevitably adding to the CIO's workload. Given the increasing scale of shadow IT spending,some three quarters (73 per cent) of Singapore IT decision makers shared that they are more concerned about the security of the entire IT infrastructure, with a similar number (76 per cent) having concerns about the security of the entire organisation's data.

Despite worries about security, loss of control, duplication of efforts and sizeable reductions to their overall budgets, the changes driven by shadow IT give CIOs a unique opportunity to evolve their role. For the innovative CIO, this is a platform to be creative in setting standards of governance and developing strategies and best practices to manage risk and ensure security. For example, CIOs can consider new delivery models such as hybrid clouds that allow local business units to innovate regardless where they are located and within a robust framework of corporate IT security standards.

Collaborating with the Right Partners
CIOs can also look at creative ways to maximise their relationships with technology partners and collaborating with them to develop innovative solutions. Over nine in ten (96 per cent) Singapore IT decision makers consider their technology partners to be creative, and a similar majority (94 per cent) say that the creativity of a technology partner makes them more likely to work with that vendor.


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