Category Archives: CIO Connect

Embrace transformation for the benefit of the business

Are you ready for the digital future and the ever-continuing flux that will constitute the role of the modern IT leader?

More than anything else, CIO Connect’s 2012 Horizons research of more than 200 technology executives shows the target for high-quality IT leaders in the digital age is getting broader and wider. As the executive responsible for technology, the CIO looking to take advantage of the leadership opportunity must embrace transformation for the benefit of the business.

IT leaders are used to change; in short, they have to be. The mechanics – the basic building blocks of the IT industry – change and flex almost continuously with time. Today’s fundamental business technology has always been tomorrow’s potential legacy system.

But decades of enterprise IT implementations mean constrictions associated with legacy technology have become an issue common to all businesses, regardless of sector or specialism. And the modern pace of change in the digital age could, from the point of view of the sceptic, serve to create more complexity.

CIOs who managed what seemed like the fast-paced transformation associated with distributed computing and electronic commerce, now find themselves confronted with lightning speed change. The confluence of mobile, consumer, cloud and social technologies means the defensible enterprise perimeter has become a nebulous concept.

Our Horizons research shows CIOs recognise employees now demand a free choice of mobile device, and use such tools to draw on enterprise information on-demand. Building a firewall and locking down access is no longer an option because technology, and the knowledge it enables, is being democratised.

Yet the pace of change is no reason to be scared. Savvy CIOs are embracing consumerisation and showing the business how technology can help engage with customers whose opinions were previously hidden. It is the CIO, rather than the marketing director or another c-level strategist, who must grasp the nettle and demonstrate how going digital improves the business.

Responding CIOs also recognise that the cloud, although in its infancy, could help the business to really use IT flexibly and to create an approach to technology that concentrates on value-added outcomes, rather than being constrained by the fears of legacy infrastructures.

Now is your opportunity to finally address the embedded perceptions of the IT department, where the technology team is viewed as practising a dark art that only acts to reduce the potential for change. Leadership in the digital age means the converse is now true and CIOs must show a business-enabled approach to IT that is agile and light-to-the-touch.

Your first step towards success – whether working as a change leader, digital designer or a shared services executive – is to grab the attention of the chief executive and to work with trusted partners to deliver set objectives that relate to specific business outcomes. Now, more than ever before, is your opportunity to change the business for the better.

The above column summarised CIO Connect’s 2012 Horizons survey and was included in the recently released edition (issue 37) of CIO Connect magazine

The digital agenda is now the business agenda

The last few months of 2011 provided an inspiring call to action for all those connected to networking and advisory organisation CIO Connect, and represented a bright counterbalance to the doom and gloom of broader macro-economic pronouncements.

While political and business leaders around the world fought to stabilise the global economy, CIO Connect sought best practice evidence to show how technology can help drive continued efficiency gains in the public and private sector.

Early foresight came at the annual conference in October and left attendees with a sense of how the rise of consumer IT means the role of technology leadership in the modern organisation has never been more crucial.

Further evidence of the significance of the digital agenda came in the weeks following the conference, as CIO Connect magazine secured exclusive interviews with two of the most important men in UK IT.

Issue 37 cover star Rob Fraser of Sainsbury’s provided a string of examples to demonstrate how the retail giant is using technology to create innovative projects that help the business meet stringent targets and deliver ever-improving service for the customer.

Cabinet Office permanent secretary Ian Watmore, meanwhile, took time from his hectic schedule to outline to CIO Connect how he and his colleagues are using technology to help push transformation in central government, an initiative that is producing lasting benefits in terms of efficiencies and cost savings.

Both interviews proved one thing above all else: the digital agenda is now the business agenda and every organisation, whether public or private, needs an expert at the helm that can help make the right decisions regarding technology deployment.

Economic stagnation continues to be accompanied by technological development and 2012 is likely to see more pressure for innovative approaches around a number of key areas, such as cloud computing, social media and information management. The CIO must be ready.

The above editorial introduced the recently released edition (issue 37) of CIO Connect magazine

Issue 37 of CIO Connect magazine

The winter edition (issue 37) of CIO Connect was posted during the Christmas break. The magazine features two particularly big hitters from private and public sector IT, both of who’s best practice will help shape technology transformation through 2012.

Cover star Rob Fraser,  head of IT at retail giant Sainsbury’s, explains how a successful strategy ensures technology skills are connected to business objectives.

And in an exclusive interview, recently-appointed Cabinet Office permanent secretary Ian Watmore says the increasing importance of technology means good leadership is more crucial than ever before. As usual, thanks to all participants and contributors:

  • Ian Watmore, permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office
  • Rob Fraser, head of IT at retail giant Sainsbury’s
  • Hakan Carlbom, CIO at EQT
  • Peter Erceg, chief security officer for UK mobile operator Everything Everywhere
  • Katherine Coombs, IT director and information security officer at buyingTeam
  • Andrew Bover, head of ICT at 1st Credit
  • Bill Limond, CIO at the City of London
  • Piergiorgio Grossi, IT director of the Ferrari Formula 1 racing team
  • Eugene Buyakin, chief operating officer at Kaspersky Lab
  • Alexander Erofeev, director of market intelligence and insight at Kaspersky Lab
  • Christian Christiansen, vice president at researcher IDC
  • Phil Everson, leader of the IT effectiveness team of Deloitte
  • Matt Peers, CIO at Deloitte
  • Sandeep Phanasgoankar, president and CTO of Reliance Capital
  • Chris Webber, senior editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Sheree Lacy, programme transformation director at BT
  • Steve Sturr, executive director of global services at Dell
  • Julian Self, group operations and IT director at IPD
  • Wayne Smith, head of IS at Birmingham Airport
  • John Bates, CTO at Progress Software
  • Frank Land, former chief consultant at LEO
  • Jim Norton, president of the British Computer Society.
  • Geoff Colvin, writer and Fortune senior editor
  • Nick Kirkland, chief executive at CIO Connect
  • Alistair Russell, advisory practice director at CIO Connect
  • Dominic Batchelor, partner at Ashurst LLP
  • Inbali Iserles, professional development lawyer at Ashurst LLP
  • Danièle Tyler, solicitor at Ashurst LLP
  • Rudy Giuliani, New York City Mayor from 1994 to 2001
  • Deepak Jain, senior vice president at Wipro Technologies
  • Roger Camrass, independent consultant and former CIO
  • Mike Gualtieri, principal analyst at researcher Forrester

Autumn 2011 edition of CIO Connect magazine

The autumn edition of CIO Connect magazine hit CIO desks during the last week of October. Cover star Dan West, IT director at, talks about his priorities for transformation and innovation at the online retail giant.

The release of the magazine was held back to include a special report that summarises the best practice evidence on consumerisation emerging from CIO Connect’s annual conference in London. As usual, thanks to all participants and contributors:

  • Dan West, IT director at
  • Cliff Burroughs, group IT and lean director at United Biscuits
  • Bill Chang, executive vice president at SingTel
  • Rajneesh Narula, professor at Henley Business School
  • Neil Farmer, IT director at Crossrail
  • Adam Gibson, CIO at Odgers Berndtson
  • Rob Gibson, director of business systems at the Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • Michael Chui, senior fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute
  • Jon Page, advisory principle at EMC Consulting
  • Sanjay Mirchandani, global CIO at EMC
  • Tony McAlister, CTO at Betfair
  • Jonathan Earp, CIO at Informa
  • Julian Self, group operations and IT director at IPD
  • Simon Meredith, UK and Ireland CIO at IBM
  • Mark Foulsham, head of IT and operations at esure
  • Mark Leonard, executive vice president at Colt
  • Steve Jeffree, operations director and group CIO at the Law Society
  • Mark Settle, CIO at BMC Software
  • Marcus East, CIO at Comic Relief
  • Alistair Russell, advisory practice director at CIO Connect
  • Andy Bristow, director at Hays Information Technology
  • David Head, director at La Fosse Associates
  • Lewis Martin, change manager at Brit Insurance
  • Sean Harley, technology operations manager at Sky IQ
  • Adam Banks, CTO at Visa Europe Services
  • Deepak Jain, senior vice president at Wipro
  • Dominic Batchelor, partner at Ashurst LLP
  • Inbali Iserles, professional development lawyer at Ashurst LLP
  • Danièle Tyler, solicitor at Ashurst LLP
  • General Sir Mike Jackson, former head of the British Army
  • Roger Camrass, independent consultant and former CIO
  • Katie Bell, marketing director at Middlesex University
  • Sally Fuller, director of strategic propositions at Kcom
  • David Fosberg, vice president at Samsung Electronics
  • David Smith, ex-people and IT director at Asda
  • Ian Watmore, chief operating officer at the UK government
  • Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks
  • Jason Hill, business solutions strategist at VMware
  • Ian Sherratt, director of corporate business strategy at SCC
  • Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist

Twitter and customers: Talk like friends, but without swearing

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, who went to great lengths to explain to a select audience why business leaders must recognise how a continual focus on the customer help keeps executives honest.

Reed was speaking at the CIO Connect annual conference that took place in London last week. There was loads of insight from speakers about the best way to deal with the increasing influence of the consumer over business technology, most of which will appear in the autumn edition of CIO Connect magazine.

But Reed had a particularly strong take on engagement. His entire organisation is focused on simple, honest communication with the customer. And when it comes to creating a social media strategy through Twitter, Reed’s advice is simple: “Talk as you would talk to your friends, but without the swearing.”

Rather than confusing customers with acronyms and double-speak, Reed encourages executives to “keep it natural”. Which I think is a pretty concise summary for how businesses should approach all forms of communication.

Information, not technology – the CIO as a top table executive

Read the media, or speak to any number of so-called industry experts, and you will still hear the same line: the CIO needs to be more aligned with the needs of the business.

Now is the time for the use of such clichés to stop. If a CIO really isn’t engaged with the business, what on earth is the executive responsible for technology doing on a daily basis?

The answer is quite a lot, actually. What becomes clear is that CIOs do not spend hours talking of the need to spend more time with other functions because such connectedness is a given.

The context to this new level of interaction is change. Perceptions of technology within the business have altered rapidly over the past decade or so, shifting from being seen as a dark art that is best left to the geeks in the basement, to an essential backbone of business success that must be widely understood in order to create competitive advantage.

Such perceptions continue to alter on an almost daily basis, with the business forced to confront challenges across multiple technology fronts. These battlegrounds include cloud computing, social media and consumer technology.

But across all fronts, the CIO has to be in charge of one crucial component: information. Now, more than ever before, the executive responsible for business IT truly is the chief information officer.

For far too long, CIOs have been forced to justify the relevance of technology to the business. Brought into board level debates on an ad-hoc basis, IT leaders have then been asked to explain why spending on hardware and software is important.

More fool the business that still takes that closed approach. In comparison to other c-level executives, the CIO is the individual with the broadest view across all business functions. That great view across the enterprise should, in itself, be enough to guarantee the CIO’s regular seat at the top table.

But there is more. CIOs have long recognised what the rest of the business has only just started to comprehend; your success or failure as a modern organisation relies on your ability to understand data.

From structured data stored in stove pipes to unstructured data floating round on social media, successful businesses will be able to take data and create useful information that can help improve decision making and boost customer engagement.

The CIO, as the guardian of this information, is the person who will ensure data becomes useful knowledge that provides a business advantage. Now, then, really is your time.

The above editorial introduced the recently released summer edition of CIO Connect magazine

Summer 2011 edition of CIO Connect magazine

The summer edition of CIO Connect magazine should now be making its way to the desks of IT leaders. The edition profiles some of the great work being undertaken by CIO Connect’s Hong Kong network, including profile pieces of Jockey Club CIO Sunny Lee and internet guru Vint Cerf.

Other CIOs featured in the magazine include Malcolm Simpkin, UK CIO of general insurance at Aviva, and Jim Slack, business leader of IT operations and development at Co-operative Financial Services. As ever, thanks to all participants and contributors:

  • Sunny Lee, executive director of IT at the Hong Kong Jockey Club
  • Vint Cerf, chief internet evangelist at Google
  • Malcolm Simpkin, UK CIO of general insurance at Aviva
  • Jim Slack, business leader of IT operations and development at Co-operative Financial Services
  • Trevor Didcock, CIO at easyJet
  • Sean Whetstone, head of IT services at Reed
  • Pat Kolek, chief operating officer at eBay Classifieds Group
  • Cris Beswick, managing director at Let’s Think Beyond
  • Rebecca Jacoby, CIO at Cisco
  • Derek Drury, CIO at University of Salford
  • Jo Stanford, group IT director at De Vere
  • Dan Morgan, IT director at General Healthcare Group
  • Jeff Smith, CIO at Torus Insurance
  • Glyn Evans, director of business change and ICT chief at Birmingham City Council
  • Paul Green, head of IT at Prism DM
  • Mike Harris, entrepreneur and founder of Egg, First Direct and Garlik
  • David Head, director at La Fosse Associates
  • Raj Samani, CTO at McAfee
  • David Longson, CTO at IBM
  • Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at Mimecast
  • Francesco Violante, chief executive of SITA
  • Jane Kimberlin, former CIO and head of Creaton Consultants
  • Dominic Batchelor, partner at Ashurst LLP
  • Inbali Iserles, professional development lawyer at Ashurst LLP
  • Danièle Tyler, solicitor at Ashurst LLP

Consumerisation is the elephant in the room for CIOs

I’m just putting the final touches to the summer edition of CIO Connect magazine. As usual, there’s a strong focus on IT leadership but there’s also a take on consumerisation, which will be the topic for CIO Connect’s annual conference later this year.

Entitled Power to the people?, the scene for the conference was set in the spring edition of the magazine, from which the following slice of the editorial is lifted:

Now people have access to better technology at home than in the office, it has become almost de rigueur to be able to show off a bunch of cool apps on your latest Steve Jobs device.

One CIO mentioned to me recently how his 10-strong board had been given iPads. It was, he believed, the epitome of forward thinking. Other companies have taken a similar strategy, giving devices to executives on the move.

Some IT leaders are honest enough to admit that the device is mainly used to keep their children happy playing ‘Angry Birds’. Others, however, are convinced the device provides the future of enterprise connectivity.

But there is an elephant in the room: consumerisation, which turns the traditional model of IT procurement inside out. Increasing number of users are buying their own devices and expecting the business to provide secure connectivity.

Another CIO mentioned to me recently how he was surprised that Apple seemed less concerned by enterprise than consumer concerns. But why should the technology giant’s focus be the enterprise?

A purchase order of 10 iPads for a single company looks diminutive next to global consumer tablet sales. Estimates suggest that by year-end 2010, Apple had sold somewhere near 15 million iPads.

It does not stop there. Analysts expect the technology giant to ship as many as 30 million units of its second-generation iPad during its first year of sales. In short, Apple and innovative technology peers such as Google are helping to break the traditional model of enterprise computing.

Rather than licences and devices being purchased internally, employers are picking their own technology and expecting to be able to plug and play. It is a development which creates new and rapidly emerging challenges for the CIO. Are you ready?

Spring 2011 edition of CIO Connect magazine

Finding the right combination of skills, and a balance between IT and business, forms a key element of the forthcoming spring edition of CIO Connect magazine. The cover star is Catherine Doran, who is that rarest of breeds: a successful IT leader who has managed to leap beyond the confines of the CIO role and assume a business-focused position.

In an exclusive interview, the director of corporate development at Network Rail explains how CIOs can move beyond the confines of the IT leadership role. She has simple advice for executive peers wishing to make a similar move into a broader executive position: “If you’re already a CIO, and you’re only thinking now about how to get on the board, you’re too late – the desire to contribute to the business has to always be deep within you.”

The theme is continued later in the magazine, where three IT leaders explain how the CIO of tomorrow will have to take a broader view of internal demands and external trends. The pace of consumerisation has quickened considerably, meaning everyone has a view on IT capability and patience is a much more limited quality.

Technology is no longer just a key element of how a business runs, it is also an integral part of the products and services that an organisation offers to its customers. The CIO of tomorrow will have to behave more like a head of marketing than an introverted IT manager. And their leadership style will be challenged by the increasing globalisation of the world.

The magazine should be hitting desk in the next week. As ever, thanks to all interviewees and contributors. A full list of featured CIOs and business leaders is provided below:

  • Catherine Doran, director of corporate development at Network Rail
  • Colin Rees, IT director at Domino’s Pizza
  • Karl de Bruijn, IT director at Specsavers
  • Chris Farmer, group IT director at Halcrow Group
  • Mike Bell, group IT director at Kingfisher
  • Gerry Pennell, CIO at London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games
  • Patrick Adiba, chief executive for the Olympics and major events at Atos Origin
  • Stuart Hill, vice president of central government at BT Global Services
  • John Shaw, CIO of Mainstream Renewable Power
  • Andrew Turner, group IT director at Hiscox
  • Peter Breunig, general manager of technology management and architecture at Chevron IT
  • Ailsa Beaton, CIO at the Metropolitan Police
  • Clive Selley, CEO of BT Innovate and Design and group CIO at BT
  • John Lawlor, head of management information systems at Trinity College Dublin
  • Robert Thorogood, CTO at hurleyplamerflatt
  • Poornima Kirloskar-Saini, head of IT at Women Like Us
  • Karl Deacon, CTO of infrastructure services at Capgemini
  • David Chan, director for the Centre for Information Leadership at City University London
  • David Head, director at La Fosse Associates
  • Keith Collins, CTO at SAS
  • Kevin Streater, executive director for IT and telecoms at The Open University
  • Stephen Hand, former group IT director at Lloyd’s Register
  • Dominic Batchelor, partner at Ashurst LLP
  • Inbali Iserles, professional development lawyer at Ashurst LLP
  • Danièle Tyler, solicitor at Ashurst LLP

Creativity is only significant if it does not entail excessive risk

Your working life should be a continual learning process, from your first day of employment to your inevitable promotion to the top table.

Any employee who makes the mistake of thinking they know everything is bound to fail. A good worker listens, talks and learns – and the same methods for success exist across every sector and individual business.

Take technology journalism, where novice business reporters are traditionally given the storage beat. It is a dry, technical area but any reporter who proves their worth in storage is likely to flourish at the front line of IT innovation and implementation.

The moral, I guess, is you need to do the right ground work. And the same principle holds true in the real – rather than reported – world of business technology, where CIOs are expected to put years of technical experience into practice for the benefit of the business.

Once at the top, it is easy to become sidetracked by ephemeral talk of alignment and agility – and to forget that lasting success is all about policy and process. A true technology leader recognises that the governance helping maintain day-to-day IT will not be forsaken for the more exciting areas of implementation and innovation.

The winter edition of CIO Connect magazine (from which this editorial is taken) shows that successful technology chiefs find a balance between creativity and risk-taking.

When it comes to how the CIO should develop novel techniques for intractable challenges, Marks & Spencer’s director of IT and logistics Darrell Stein says he only gets excited about business cases, sales and costs.

Change attempts are set by a business agenda, an approach echoed by Paul Forester – IT director at fashion retailer Monsoon Accessorize – who is looking to create an IT planning function to focus on innovation.

Creativity, it turns out, is only significant if it does not entail excessive risk. And that propensity for the business to cope with risk relies on the well-learned basics of policy and process.

With strong governance, CIOs are much more likely to see projects succeed. Like storage, governance has a reputation for being dry and staid. But it involves a learning process that must not be forgotten.

Tom Herbich, now director of business applications and information governance at Deutsche Bank, has spent three decades honing a unique and effective approach to compliance. In a special feature on the finance industry, Herbich offers advice which is true for CIOs across all sectors.

“You must implement solid business controls,” he concludes. “You need to know how to manage and you need to understand what is really important.” As ever, experience will see you right.