It seems that the CIO may even need to wear a financial hat these days. "Two of our IT staff took courses in accounting, so they could maximise their understanding of the ERP system," noted Khanna of CMGRP.
Predictive analysis of unstructured data is an emerging trend. "I met a lady from a global bank," said Seow, "who said they wanted to recruit a risk manager to predict irregular bank account use, such as money laundering or excessive borrowing, by analysing the transaction data for diagnostic patterns."
Social media is another source of unstructured data that it pays to analyse. "Philips has a kind of internal Facebook, and employees can have their own account enabling them to offer their views on products or policies," said Lee. "The program helps to collect the views and present them in a more organised way, like a story. Although we continue to emphasise data privacy, we are now much more open. For example, now I can pick up my iPhone and use software called Link and communicate with my staff. The world is changing and we have to make use of this technology."
Next-generation CIOs will have to be team players creating business innovation.
"Alongside the traditional SAP values, we are putting increasing emphasis on innovation," said Gu. "We are working to improve the software in performance and also make implementation easier for users. But now, we are able to gather information from a whole new world of social media and mobility. This is a very hot topic and the stakeholders are not yet well-defined, but marketing, customer care and IT people all want to know what the customers are saying about the product, the company and the latest campaign. Combining information from vendors, partners, customers and their staff adds up to a new approach which we call co-innovation," continued Gu. "Individually, nobody knows all the answers but together we can assemble the building blocks of a better outcome."
Rapid deployment of corporate apps is just one more responsibility for CIOs. "For our SAP implementation, we employed HKPC (Hong Kong Productivity Council) as a consultant to help manage the vendor," said Paul Lau. "As a result, we had good project management and we went live on schedule within 21 months. The overall cost was no higher, and we are very satisfied."
SAP acknowledges the need for continuous improvement. "SAP's ERP has a Germanic heritage and its thorough design incorporates a remarkable flexibility," said McKinnon. "We never stop developing the application's performance so that users can spend less to obtain a high confidence solution. But my main role is to make implementation quicker and more reliable."
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