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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.

So far the initiative has been successfully implemented, but Sundi Balu, CIO, Telstra Global, said that there was no secret to success in transformations and cloud projects of this nature.

Balu noted the importance of presenting the initiative as a business transformation rather than an IT transformation. "If we started this as an IT transformation I guarantee it would have failed," Balu said. "Transformations must be business-led so that the outcomes are business-owned — IT is the enabler."

Expanding IT playbook
Balu likened these initiatives to power-plays where business leaders own the budgets — something CIOs are accustomed to — and now can seek a variety of options to fulfill their needs either from in-house IT or from external providers.

"In many ways, it has become easier for CEOs and CMOs to circumvent IT as you can source almost any business and technology capability from outside the organization," said Balu.

The emergence of cloud and rapidly evolving delivery models means a whole new ecosystem of technology providers has emerged, and CIOs must think of this ecosystem as part of their overall strategy and work within it.

"The trick is to make sure these transformations are business-led and owned and — as a CIO — enable them through a technology ecosystem that is not controlled by IT but very much influenced by IT," said Balu. This approach ensures the outcome is enabled by IT and IT remains clearly involved in delivering this wide ecosystem to the business.

"Leverage technologies such as cloud not because it's 'cool' and trendy to do so, but because it's essential to delivering the best solution for the business and it's also essential to your survival as a CIO," Balu said. "If you ignore the potential of this growing ecosystem, your power will shift as your view of technology will be limited."

The power of data
Lockton's Kwok added that for traditional-minded CIOs, the danger is to try and hold onto everything. "CIOs must be proactive and be willing to transform [because] if you don't do it, your budgets will go elsewhere." She added that very few people within organizations have the capability and opportunity to enable transformations — given their skill-sets, CIOs make excellent transformers of the business."

As for the hot technology trends making headlines today, each of the panel speakers had a number of predictions for the year ahead.

On the topic of cloud computing, all agreed that cloud is no longer a new trend but something that is already part of business today. "We can all predict that there will be more cloud to come," said Kwok.

For Telstra's Balu, harnessing the power of analytics and data is the big item for 2014. "Without having to use the term 'big data', I think that now is the time that companies will be able to reap rewards for the millions spent on data warehouses and complex data analysis by becoming proactive in the way they use data," he said.


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