The evolving CIO agenda
- 29 September, 2014 08:00
Projects, security, mobility are just some of the areas they are expected to work on, he states.
“All of these things have a fair degree of challenges in delivering them,” says Lawrie.
“But what it highlights is that information technology and CIOs play an absolutely critical role in enabling the success and future success of the organisation.”
Speaking at the CIO100 event in Auckland, Lawrie cites IBM’s latest global CEO survey in which respondents picked technology as the single biggest factor that is going to have the biggest impact on organisations.
“If any of you were concerned how you would become more relevant or make IT more relevant to the CEO, let me assure you, you are pretty much front and centre already,” says Lawrie to the more than 130 CIOs at the event.
Related: Who made it to the 2014 CIO100 list?
“When you see CEOs thinking how they will drive productivity more efficiently... they are thinking first and foremost how IT can help effectively with that.”
$19 trillion can be gained in the next 10 years for organisations that are able to harness people-to-people (P2P), machine-to-people (M2P) and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, the ‘Internet of Everything’.
CIOs have an incredible opportunity in front of them to position IT for absolute organisational leadership. And this, he says, is through a technology that is “disrupting everything” – connectivity.
He says the combination of greater connectivity of people and things (the Internet of Things) is creating more data that can be used for smarter operations across sectors, including manufacturing, mining and governments.
Cisco estimates that $19 trillion can be gained in the next 10 years for organisations that are able to harness people-to-people (P2P), machine-to-people (M2P) and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, in what it calls the ‘Internet of Everything’.
A “personal favourite” of Lawrie is agriculture. “We are in front of the curve in New Zealand in our ability to connect our livestock, pastures, and stock processing systems with weather forecasting systems,” he says. “This will help lead us to the most productive agriculture transformation in this planet.”
One of the biggest breakthroughs and biggest secrets of our success has been people power.
Other speakers at the annual CIO100 event – where the results of the research into the top 100 ICT-using organisations in New Zealand were presented – who expounded on leading through various business technology trends include: Marcus Darbyshire, vice president, executive partner, Gartner Executive Programs; Martin Catterall, CIO, St John; Claire Govier, CIO, healthAlliance; Geoff Beynon, country manager, SAS; and Ian Forrester, managing director, Plan B.
Being data driven
SAS’s Beynon says the explosion of data is creating a new role for the CIO, “one that is going to allow you to contribute directly to the success of your organisation”.
The role of the CIO is to go out and bring the data pieces together, to bring a 360-degree view of the customer.
Data assets are potentially spread across the organisation, he says. “The role of the CIO is to go out and bring the data pieces together, to bring a 360-degree view of the customer.”
Data is the single most important and valuable asset of any business, notes Plan B’s Forrester.
In the Industrial Age, he says, the most valuable companies were those with significant physical assets.
“Things are different in the Information Age,” he declares. The value of intangible assets has grown significantly in the past 40 years from less than 20 per cent of a company’s value in 1975 to more than 80 per cent today.
“Data is intangible and the foundation of the growth in the value of intangible assets,” he states. “It is unique and irreplaceable. If you lose your laptop you can go to Noel Leeming and buy a new one. Unfortunately, it is not the same for data.”
You wouldn’t fly on a plane that was serviced by a part-time mechanic. So why trust a partner with backing up your most valuable asset?
The CEO, therefore, is the custodian of a business’s assets, so responsibility for protecting its most valuable asset – data – starts with the head of the company. “They need to lead from the front,” Forrester says.
For CIOs, he says, it is important to let the business decide what risk they are willing to take rather than IT becoming the scapegoat.
“You can’t back up everything,” he states. “Make sure you let the business decide what is important and what is not, what to back up and what to leave out.
“Don’t let a member of your team decide because if that happens to be the secret formula for Coca Cola, you are in trouble.”
It is also important to choose your partners well for data management, he says. “You wouldn’t fly on a plane that was serviced by a part-time mechanic. So why trust a partner with backing up your most valuable asset?”
Be the CEO of your brand
Gartner’s Darbyshire calls on CIOs to take stock of their personal brand.
“We are CEOs of our own companies,” says Darbyshire, echoing the words of Tom Peters, who wrote: “To be in the business today, our most important job is to be the head marketer for the brand called ‘You’.”
But why do it? “CEOs expect IT to power the business into new markets and digital channels,” says Darbyshire. “To be successful in this, CIOs must build a strong personal and department brand, as credible providers of both core IT services and digital business solutions.”
The process, takes time, effort, investment, and focus to construct, he says.
CIOs must build a strong personal and department brand, as credible providers of both core IT services and digital business solutions
One place to start is to do a search of your big data footprint, says Darbyshire, who was a CIO before joining Gartner. “Google yourself, sum up your digital life. What does it say?”
Darbyshire says a personal brand has five elements:
• Purpose – why people follow you
• Social style – the way people see you
• Communications – the way people hear you
• History – how people evaluate you over a long period
• Versatility -– the way people relate to you and how you relate to them.
CIOs can use these as tools to reinvent themselves and their brand into a “powerful digital asset” to the enterprise, he says.
Cross border leadership
St John CIO Martin Catterall shares his leadership insights from a 25-year career that has brought him across the globe.
Catterall, the inaugural CIO at St John,started his ICT career at the Department of Labour in Wellington. He has worked in Fortune 500 companies, government and non-government organisations.
Prior to coming back to New Zealand early this year, he was director of information technology and telecommunications at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
“It is not your agenda that evolves, it is you,” he says. “It is critical that you constantly evaluate your own program and try to modify your own behaviour to achieve the results you require.
“As a CIO, I found myself constantly changing my style and approach to be effective. I needed to be seen as a valued and trusted member of the organisation in order to make a difference.”
As for leading across different environments, he says there are two different elements to consider.
First, it is working between cultures, and the second is working across huge geographic distances, says Catterall. “These two dimensions require different skills.”
Successfully working across cultures requires “a strong sense of value”, he says.
“If you are able to treat everybody with a sense of honesty and integrity and calmness, then you get on well irrespective of the culture or the religion.
“You give people the respect and the openness that you would give anybody else and people can sense that in you. Many times it’s about listening rather than talking. You have to be willing to ask simple questions and allow people the opportunity to give their perspective on it.”
It is not your agenda that evolves, it is you… It is critical that you constantly evaluate your own program and try to modify your own behaviour to achieve the results you require.
It is something he applies at St John, which was established in 1885 in New Zealand. “St John has a huge history and many people have been with the organisation for a long period of time,” he says. “So I’ve tried to be a listener and I’ve tried to pay respect to the history and the achievements of St John so that I can better understand where people are coming from here.
“I think that’s really, really important as a leader or as a manager – giving people the acknowledgment and the respect that they have. Clearly, you are there to lead and to affect change, but you can’t do that unless you understand the environment you are in.”
The second element of cross border leadership is working with teams across huge geographic distances.
“You need to have to have a huge amount of discipline in terms of how you communicate and how you track the work that needs to take place,” Catterall says, citing his experience at WHO.
“For example, I would be based in Switzerland, but I would have 100 staff based in Malaysia and I needed to keep in touch and monitor and control what was going on in Malaysia. That required a whole sense of discipline and how often I communicated, how I communicated, how we tracked progress and how we reported activities. And it is certainly doable, but you need to create an infrastructure for success in this respect.”
He says technology clearly plays a part in this. “We would have voice over IP, which allowed us to have telephone conversations without considering the cost. But it also meant that you needed to track action items in a positive way. You needed to track performance on a regular basis. The relationship needed to be there, but you also needed to be very professional in what was being delivered.”
Technologies come and go… but values and behaviour always stay with us.
On his personal style, Catterall does not see himself as a technology person. “I’m a people manager, process manager.”
He believes one of the things that makes people successful is having “a sense of integrity”.
“You have to be honest in your work. I admire people who understand they have a role and they work hard in that role, but at the same time they’re looking for opportunities to do more.
“As a manager, you have a responsibility to encourage that and to notice that,” he says. “One of the real delights of being a manager is working with people and nurturing that value system.
Technologies come and go… but values and behaviour always stay with us.”
The event ends with a synopsis of what lies ahead for CIOs:
Digital, data, disruption.
The imperative is for the C-suite to shift to what the CIO Executive Council calls the ‘D-suite’.
This refers to traditional C-suites remodelling or refining themselves to become digital savvy C-suites or D-Suites. To succeed in this transformation, it states, there has to be a pathfinder or champion. It is a role more CIOs will be taking on in the months ahead. Photos by Jason Creaghan
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