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Out in front

Divina Paredes | Feb. 18, 2013
“Change is the constant, change is the known. You know whatever you are doing in technology is going to change significantly every couple of years,” says Ben Robinson, CIO of Paymark.

Change is the constant, change is the known. You know whatever you are doing in technology is going to change significantly every couple of years, says Ben Robinson, CIO of Paymark.

The same can be said for what is happening to the CIO role itself, according to the State of the CIO Survey 2013.

This year, more CIOs report they are simultaneously working if not leading non-IT areas in the organisation, and taking on the role of business strategists. They are at the forefront in advising the business on the possibilities of technology in cutting costs and developing new revenue streams. These meetings with executive colleagues meant developing their lieutenants who can step up on acting or full-time CIO roles.

More and more of them also find themselves working across agencies, sometimes with competitors, on joint ventures. And, as this years report shows, more of them are working with customers through face to face interactions or working on systems that will make it easier for customers and industry partners to deal with them.

CIOs across sectors share their experiences as they step to these new leadership challenges. 

Rise of the business strategists

 Tofigh Alizadeh, chief operations officer, NZPM (Plumbers Merchants) Group, says the findings of this years survey resonate with him. We are working more and more with our shareholders, who are also our customers, says Alizadeh.

NZPM has around 1000 shareholders all plumber business owners who are customers of the groups subsidiary Plumbing World.Alizadeh joined NZPM from Turners Auctions, where he was both CIO and general manager of business strategy and planning. But at NZPM, and even at Turners, his focus was beyond IT strategy.We were focusing on how to increase market share, how to develop shareholder spend, how do we develop shareholder numbers.

What are the strategies that you need to put in place? Alizadeh also looked at optimising the supply chain and inventory management. I made recommendations around joining business units for better efficiency, better transparency of information and lowering the number of touch points that we have, from buying, to actual retail stores we have, or to customers.In 2011, the group launched the concept of NZPM Extra, a loyalty programme for shareholders.

NZPM partnered with selected suppliers that can provide discounts and corporate buying rates on a range of products and services like petrol, software, telecommunications or computer hardware.

But as Alizadeh worked closely with the shareholders, the focus shifted to how to help them develop the business rather than just supplying them products. We put a package together for our shareholders so that they can start managing their business effectively and to develop a business rather than just becoming a trader. We want them to develop a viable or sustainable business.


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