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The Quest for C-Suite Harmony

CIO Asia writers | April 26, 2011
The goal of business-IT alignment remains a key management focus, as organisations strive to effectively use information technology to achieve strategic business objectives. Prominent IT expert speakers delved into this longstanding issue at CIO Asia’s annual flagship conference and awards 2011 in Singapore in March.

CIO Asia’s Conference and Awards 2011 came at a remarkable period in the IT industry’s history, according to Ross O. Storey, editor of CIO Asia magazine and managing editor of Fairfax Business Media Asia, in his welcome address.

“Virtualisation, cloud computing, social networking, iPads and the slate computer phenomenon, information mobility, WikiLeaks; the past year has certainly been packed full of innovations and IT surprises,” Storey said.

The annual CIO Asia event - with the theme “C-Suite Harmony: Is Everyone Singing in Tune with Business-IT Alignment’ - attracted significant sponsors including CommScope, APC by Schneider Electric, Hitachi Asia, Intelledox, CITIC Telecom International CPC (Singapore), Savvis and Pacnet.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), Storey said, “expects Asian economies to grow seven per cent this year, almost double the rate forecast for the overall global economy. Asia is now the second highest contributor to global trade and is expected to overtake Europe in a few years”.

Inadequate Progress
Despite the overall positive outlook, he warned there were still issues perplexing the IT industry.

“Inadequate progress appears to have been made with the persistent issue of business-IT alignment,” Storey said. The 2010 State of the Asian CxO survey, by CIO Asia magazine, found that 57 per cent of IT executives believed they were not involved early enough in the enterprise decision making process and only one in five respondents believed that IT was leading innovation initiatives across their company.

With single supply chains located across multiple locations and goods speeding across the world, from manufacturing hubs in Asia to end consumers in the US, Europe and Africa, there is a growing demand for better information flow and visibility of goods in the supply chain, Richard Owens, CEO, Global Customer Solutions, DHL Asia Pacific told the conference delegates.

Owens said it is vital that companies are able to balance operational excellence with innovation excellence, and he listed some of the global brands that have been recognised in analysts firm AMR’s Top 25 Supply Chain Ranking.

Ranked number one was Apple for “transforming its supply chain into a value chain, starting with the consumer experience and designing its network to serve that master first and foremost,” said Owens.

In second place was Proctor and Gamble (P&G), which established new leadership footholds in other areas, including its use of innovation networks to tap external expertise for at least 50 per cent of its new product ideas.

Intelligent Infrastructure
In his presentation, Dr. Ispran Kandasamy vice president sales, enterprise Asia Pacific with CommScope’s enterprise solutions division, told the conference that business objectives can be aligned with IT strategies by focusing on managing networks intelligently. “Unless (organisations) have an intelligent infrastructure, they can’t support business goals,” he said.

Kandasamy said businesses today relied on robust network infrastructure to run a web of business applications. They create and process information at staggering volumes, and therefore demand smarter computing architectures and networks. “Ensuring network reliability, flexibility and efficiency can give enterprises considerable competitive advantage,” he said.
Mitigating enterprise risk is an important factor for CIOs to achieve business and IT alignment, Danny Tan, director, professional services, Hitachi Asia said in his presentation.

He said Hitachi’s JP1 system management software could be an important part of a CIO’s information security strategy.

“JP1’s security measure capabilities cover areas like print prevention of sensitive data, automatic patching, prevent malware invocation, log audits, and quarantine of devices network as well as external media control,” said Tan.

CITIC Telecom International CPC (Singapore) director, enterprise business development, Eddie Chia, told the conference that, as technology becomes more complex, there is a growing demand for enterprises to adopt cloud computing to take advantage of greater external expertise. 

Demand for Cloud
In his presentation, entitled ‘Managed Services Contributes to Business Bottom line’, Chia argued that a cloud and managed services approach was essential in today’s business environment to increase the bottom-line. Today’s CIOs face the challenge of customer-focused innovation and a customer-driven agenda, he said. “Speed to market is key to business survival. High operations cost hinder growth. And the business environment is growing complex.” The answer to all these challenges, said Chia, had to be technology-based.

Today’s CIO has to keep the business running and drive business transformation and enable innovation—all at lower budgets. To rise to these challenges, he said CIOs have to consider cloud computing solutions—software-as- a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service.


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