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The CIO’s broadening role: Business strategist, futurist, change agent

Divina Paredes | Aug. 18, 2017
Robin Johansen on why CIOs should prepare for the impact of political and economic developments across the globe.

Closer to home, in the Asia Pacific, he cites North Korea as a rogue state that is “behaving very badly”, while China is extending its reach through the South China sea. As well, both nations have been accused of participation in state sponsored cyber attacks.

“It is easy to dismiss these cyber threats as applying only to national security, but recent ransomware attacks have shown just how vulnerable many organisations can be.

“CIOs have got to be aware of these developments when they are conceiving their IT systems.

“It is all very well having ‘everything in the cloud’ but ‘what if’ is the question modern CIOs need to think through,” he says, as well as “to have a fallback or a response, and to remain agile.”

He sees CIOs having to make some big decisions in an incredibly turbulent period, both socially and politically.

“If you introduce a new technology, there can be a political blowback - global, national, or within the company.”

The government may act to slow down or stop adoption of a technology.

For example, he says, there is talk about introducing taxes for automation as conventional employment declines and reduces the government revenue from taxes. “What if that led to the imposition of new taxes on cloud based services from a particular geography?”

For New Zealand CIOs, there is the concern about how to respond in case of events such as earthquakes.

“How resilient will this system be if my world changes? Can you shift quickly? How vulnerable to cyberattack is this system I am creating?”

Thus, Johansen says CIOs also have to think like futurists, more than ever.

He notes another development is appointment of CIOs who do not necessarily come from a strong technology background.

“They are good managers with a strong business sense and reliant on others to fill in the gaps from a technology.

“That is fine provided you have a good technology team behind you,” he says.

“We are entering an era when a CIO’s technical experience may be limited to updating their smartphone or tablet and think that an enterprise upgrade should be no more taxing. They do not necessarily understand the complexity and have little motivation to be better informed.”

“The problem is if you have got someone who is making decisions without any of that understanding, a salesperson can set him or her up a wonderful deal that will bite the organisation in three years.”


Champion of change

“On the day-to-day business, I see too often technology roaring ahead without taking the people with it, and these include customers and suppliers.”

Johansen says he had done recent work assessing one such project with a company.


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