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CIOs in prime position to be transformation agents

Chee-Sing Chan | Feb. 12, 2014
Transformation is the hot topic today--IT leaders see businesses more dependent on technology, but face the growing possibility that CIOs may be cut out of the technology decision-making process.

Transformation is the hot topic today — IT leaders see businesses more dependent on technology, but face the growing possibility that CIOs may be cut out of the technology decision-making process. Fast-moving technology and shifting business needs mean change is inevitable for CIOs and their organizations.

Hong Kong technology leaders gathered last month at a Telstra-hosted executive discussion to debate how heads of IT and their organizations can become enablers for business transformation while simultaneously making significant changes to their outlook and their teams to stay relevant.

With technology trends — cloud, big data, mobile and social media — changing business processes, many enterprises find themselves making technology decisions that often bypass IT altogether. Many IT leaders feel overwhelmed by the speed and growth in demand for technology, and other businesses leaders are left wondering whether to take technology matters into their own hands as IT struggles to keep pace and deliver what users demand.

Jason Chiu, CEO of mobile apps company Cherrypicks, implored CIOs to avoid becoming defensive as new technology demands emerge and more executives come to them with requests. Chiu works with business leaders across the C-level suite, and he believes that disruption should be viewed as an opportunity for CIOs.

Glass half-full
"CIOs are being asked to support CMOs and other business leaders more as businesses seek to explore new technologies and deliver a better user experience," said Chiu. "These are great opportunities for CIOs to get more involved in key business initiatives."

He said that while marketing departments will drive new customer initiatives, the IT department must articulate what's required to execute these successfully. "In many ways," said Chiu, "CIOs will have a bigger role to play in the near future."

Kwok Suk-Wah, regional CIO at insurance group Lockton Companies, agrees. "I already detect that my popularity [as CIO] is growing," she said in jest. "But on a serious note, CIOs in this age should be sought more and more," added Kwok. "The challenge is that many CIOs are not always customer-facing and not the most aware of customer- or user-needs."

Transformers at work
At Telstra, a transformation has taken place to cater to the changing and increasingly disruptive needs of customers. The service provider recently underwent an organizational shift to support new and changing business requirements, said Andrew Wildblood, head of Asia Pacific, Telstra Global.

This shift was enabled by a multi-million dollar transformation exercise to create a cloud platform. "As an organization, we believe that cloud is the key technology platform that will deliver IT to companies in the long term," said Wildblood.

The initiative involved the total replacement of a number of legacy systems to solve business problems of business agility and flexibility. The new systems will ultimately serve customers better.


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