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CIO SUMMIT: Innovate on Processes

T.C. Seow | Aug. 23, 2012
One of the highlights of the CIO Summit held early last August in Singapore was the panel discussion that delved on the theme "Building a Successful IS Organisation".

Wu: My attitude is, as CIOs, we have to be very in tune with technology and industry development. But I find it kind of odd to say when a [piece of] technology is ready for deployment because it's driven by business needs. I can't say "cloud is ready, so let's move in". That doesn't ring a bell with business. Most technological developments allow us to do a few things: one, allow us to do things faster, cheaper, better; if you're very in tune with technological development and with business requirements there's always opportunities to bring those technologies into the organisation -- not because they're ready for deployment but they bring tremendous benefit to the business.

There are also other areas where technology allows you to do things you've never done before. Those tend to be more leading edge, more experimental. But if it is ready for deployment, it's already mainstream -- then your business gets very little competitive advantage by adopting mainstream, but you may be a leading fast follower. In some areas, I think even when it's nascent and experimental, if there is a business problem and there is tremendous benefit from this nascent technology, I will bring it in. Because otherwise, how do you stay ahead of your competitors? In short, I think it depends on the class of problems (you're facing). Do you want to run things faster, cheaper, better; or do you want to stay ahead of competition? Then bring the technology in because you don't need to wait till it's mainstream.

What are your views on sustainability versus innovation of IT initiatives?

Devabalan: The simplification part such as core banking, GL, etc. is built on robust sustainable platform. Innovation is for the customers outside, the touch points. The difference between these two is what's inside and outside. Really, it's for the CIO to manage internally while ensuring innovative solutions for external parties.

Kuai: Cost is a big concern for us and sustainability is an important issue. In terms of innovation, that can be driven in a couple of instances. Business itself is innovating, so technology is to support new areas [of business]. Second is, technology providing new capabilities, which in turn drives business thinking on how to start innovating.

Wu: In B2C model, innovation is very unsustainable -- it's very easy to copy. The only way to make it difficult to copy is [to ensure] your processes -- backend processes that make your business run cheaper, faster -- are very difficult to copy. Innovative processes are the most sustainable; innovative technology is least sustainable. Others can buy the latest and they are already more innovative [than you]. What you want are innovative service offerings, backed up by very innovative world-class processes that are actually more sustainable. If all you want is to buy the latest toy, the moment it is deployed, it is already obsolete.


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