With the rise of the cloud and stronger procurement functions, some organisations may ask whether they really need an IT function. The following feature by me for silicon.com explains why many CIOs think it’s vital they move beyond technology implementation and operation:
“CIOs now have a better opportunity than ever before to move beyond the confines of IT,” says Catherine Doran, director of corporate development for infrastructure specialist Network Rail.
In Doran’s case, the old adage that CIO really stands for ‘career is over’ is redundant. She has used the CIO position as a means to demonstrate her broader business abilities. The result is that Doran is judged on her capability to lead transformation across the organisation and not just in the IT department. So, how has she managed to make the transition?
OK, catch-up time. I’ve had a few more articles published on silicon.com and it’s time to update my personal database (in other words, my web site). I’ll spread the joy, rather than publishing the pieces in a long list.
The first was published before Christmas and includes comment from a series of CIOs who suggest why it is crucial to communicate the benefits of IT in terms the business can understand:
CIOs know that you are going to get left behind if you are simply an IT director who’s good with technology. Technology chiefs who make a real and lasting contribution at the executive level are able to communicate the benefits of IT in terms the business can understand. The successful CIO is now, more than ever before, the communicative CIO.
“I network with a lot of CIOs and I see that the successful IT leaders are socially adept and communicative,” says John Adey, chief operating officer and CIO at Star Technology Services.
“The best IT leaders have business influence because of their soft skills – if you can influence people, your technical skills won’t matter. A lot of IT people come up through a technical background but the successful CIOs are business-savvy; they talk about benefits not technology.”
It’s a bumper edition, which features profiles of London Olympics CIO Gerry Pennell and BBC CIO Tiffany Hall. There’s also exclusive content from CIO Connect’s recently held annual conference, ‘Business as Unusual’, and the first part of our annual Horizons research, which explores the future of the CIO role. As ever, thanks to all interviewees and contributors. A full list of featured CIOs and business leaders is provided below:
Gerry Pennell, CIO at London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games
Mark Foulsham, head of IT at esure
Tiffany Hall, CIO at BBC
Rajiv Hingoo, chief operating officer at CLSA
Jon Curry, director of HR and ICT at The Eden Project
Poornima Kirloskar-Saini, head of IT at Women Like Us
Neil Brooks, CTO at Business Monitor International
Bill Brindle, CIO at Hogg Robinson
Toby Clarke, group IT director at Abbey Protection Group
Tim Fillingham, chief operating officer at Torus Insurance group
Neil Pamment, IT director at Denton Wilde Sapte LLP
Chris Miller, CIO at Avanade
David Felstead, CIO at the Forestry Commission
Vincent Kelly, CIO at Orange Business Services
Stuart Curley, chief technology architect at the Royal Mail
Mark Quartermaine, managing director of BT Global Services in the UK
David Bradshaw, research manager at IDC
Barry Jennings, solicitor in the commercial department at Bird & Bird LLP
Ganesh Ayyar, chief executive at MphasiS
Srikrishna Ramakarthikeyan, vice president at HCL
Vin Murria, chief executive at ACS
Nathan Marke. CTO at e2e
Dominic Batchelor, partner at Ashurst LLP
Inbali Iserles, professional development lawyer at Ashurst LLP
Danièle Tyler, solicitor at Ashurst LLP
Nick Kirkland, chief executive at CIO Connect
Nisha Pillai, BBC World News anchor
René Carayol, leadership guru
Chris Hadfield, executive coach
Ellis Watson, chief executive of Syco Entertainment
Roger Camrass, general manager for Europe at Wipro Consulting
David Smith, economy editor at The Sunday Times
Trae Chancellor, vice president of enterprise strategy at Salesforce.com
Jeremy Vincent, CIO at Jaguar Land Rover
Tom Herbich, director of business applications and information governance at Deutsche Bank
Margot Katz, executive coach
Nigel Moulton, director of product and solutions marketing for EMEA at Avaya
Chris Barrow, EMEA solutions marketing executive at Avaya
John Lawler, deputy director of information systems services at Trinity College Dublin
David Valentine, general manager for UK and Ireland at Micro Focus
Here’s another article I’ve produced for silicon.com – this time it’s about whether an entirely new type of leader is starting to emerge. With all the emphasis on understanding the business, is there a danger that IT leaders are losing their focus on technology itself?
Much is made of the suggestion that IT leaders must understand the needs of the business. It’s a reasonable suggestion – any technology chief knows success is dependent on engagement with the demands of senior executives. But in this push to comprehend the requirements of the business, have we started to ignore the importance of technology?
It’s a pertinent question, given that most commentators recognise that IT is now the key building block for organisational success. From on-demand computing to social media and mobile technology, IT chiefs will be expected to give quick answers to crucial investment questions.
While such answers will depend on the requirements of the business, the board will first call on an IT chief for their understanding of technology rather than other operational considerations.
A quick update to my article list for silicon.com – an article explaining why the shift to cloud computing may take longer than CIOs think. Along with the familiar barriers to cloud adoption, such as security and vendor lock-in, there are a number of less obvious challenges giving some CIOs pause for thought:
Listen to the vendors and on-demand computing is presented as an unstoppable force that is set to change technology provision quickly and irrevocably.
Check the research and that representation certainly appears credible, with analyst house IDC estimating that companies spend £10.7bn a year on cloud IT services worldwide and that the market will be worth £27bn by 2013. But while the numbers might sound impressive, IT leaders wishing to transfer services to the cloud face significant challenges.
Executives rapidly discover a dark side to the cloud, where concepts of on-demand technology are confused, trust is constrained and understanding is limited. “I find the whole debate about cloud as interesting as the debate about service-oriented architecture,” says Stuart Curley, chief technology architect at the Royal Mail. “It doesn’t keep me awake at night but it does send me to sleep.”
I’ve just finished putting together an eight-page special supplement on CIO Connect‘s annual conference. The supplement will be available in the next edition of CIO Connect magazine, which is out in a week-or-so.
The annual conference, ‘Business an Unusual‘, was a splendid mix of interaction, debate and networking. As many as 150 people attended the event, including 115 CIOs.
While putting the supplement together, I drew on automated polling results from IML that gauged the opinions of attendees across a range of areas. The following CIO poll results cover leadership:
75% of CIOs work for organisations that encourage creativity
On a scale of one to four, the majority of CIOs (77%) rate themselves on the creative end of the spectrum
77% of CIOs believe they receive recognition for the work they do from their company
The conclusion? Creative leadership is crucial for the modern IT leader – and most CIOs work for organisations that encourage, and then recognise, the significance of that creative leadership.
What type of skills does the CEO want from his or her CIO? My latest feature for silicon.com draws on the experiences of a group of senior executives to discuss the leadership traits that will make a CIO stand out from their peers:
The starting point, says Jardine Lloyd Thompson CIO Ian Cohen, is to understand your personal attributes or strengths and those of your team. Rather than worrying about potential weaknesses, an outstanding leader will focus on their strengths – and those within their teams – and look to exploit them.
“We spend way too much time trying to turn people into something they are not and fix their weaknesses,” he says. “It’s complete nonsense to think that fixing something bad will create something great. If you take ‘bad’ and just invert it – you get ‘not bad’, which is light years away from ‘great’. Find the activities that strengthen you personally, and the people you lead, and look to do those activities more often.”
When it comes to personal capabilities, Cohen is well aware of his own strengths. He says he happens to be good at technology because of the chronology of his career and an employment path that has included senior IT positions at media giants Associated Newspapers and the Financial Times.
Here’s another piece I’ve recently had published on silicon.com, this time about the importance of data security and the potential requirement for a chief information security officer:
Mike Newman is an IT leader who is one step ahead of some of his executive peers. The CIO of Towergate, Europe’s largest independently-owned insurance intermediary, appointed a full-time head of IT security 18 months ago as part of a higher-level strategy to prioritise the integrity of information.
“Data security simply has to be fundamental,” says Newman of the decision to hire a head of information security. “As a services-based organisation, the key asset is your customer – you have a real duty to look after your assets. We need smart security guys to stop the potential exposure of data and to make sure that the corporate use of information follows best practice.”
The good news is that, for the most part, technology workers recognise the importance of employing a dedicated security leader. As many as 62 per cent of IT professionals believe the most valuable governance measure an organisation can undertake with regards to data security is the appointment of a chief information security officer (CISO) or other high-level security leader, according to research from the Ponemon Institute.
I’ve been on holiday for the past week. Well, I say holiday – I live in London and we visited Leigh-on-Sea for a few hours one day. The main point is that I haven’t been at work. And during that time away from my desk, a piece I wrote on the social CIO for silicon.com was published. The piece suggests that not enough IT chiefs are championing social media and collaboration:
There might be 500 million Facebook users around the globe but that still leaves almost six and a half billion non-users. What lies behind such figures is a broader socio-economic change. The number of people using Facebook has doubled year-on-year and the up-and-coming cadre ofyounger employees expect to use social technologies in the workplace.
Such expectations create significant challenges for the executive team. The CIO, as the individual with responsibility for organisational IT, should be at the apex of that challenge. That, however, is not necessarily the case.
Summer’s recently released CIO Connect magazine featured a profile interview with Deloitte UK partner and CIO Mary Hensher, a people person with a passion for the potential of IT to change business. The feature covered the following areas:
Deloitte UK CIO Mary Hensher is only too aware of the fact that she remains a scarcity amongst the rarefied air of UK business leadership; a woman with a responsibility for technology at a leading firm.
There is hope that the balance will once again shift towards women, and that hope comes in the form of social media: “Technology used to be anti-social; now it’s social,” says Hensher, referring to the increasing prevalence of collaborative technology.
“You need pioneers to prove that new models of working are possible,” says Hensher. “Part-time employment will not work in every job but IT should be more accommodating. Employees need to be as flexible as they can. A good working relationship can make new models work.”
Information is everything. It is crucial that a central core of IT experts are retained in-house to ensure that client data is secure: “We can’t afford ignorance and managing secure data is essential,” says Hensher.
Hensher says issues of security and mobility come together and create concerns around connectivity: “The challenge is to connect your people effectively,” she says.