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CIO Conference: Shifting Roles

Tao Ai Lei & T.C. Seow | March 28, 2012
Some 150 industry leaders gathered at Singapore’s Marriott Hotel last March for the CIO Conference to deliberate on the current hot IT issues.

Best of all, IT would become the best-run function in the company, earning its place in the overall organisational structure as a main contributor to productivity and cost efficiency.

Wu’s fourth question to the audience was: “Do you truly believe IT alone creates sustainable competitive advantage?”

“Technology leadership alone is not a sustainable competitive advantage for most companies and most industries,” she said. “Sustainable competitive advantage comes from a combination of business models, business processes, people, technology, culture and values. CIOs can lead technology-driven innovations as a proof-of-concept, but they need to quickly hand them over to business to make them mainstream.”

Finally, she asked: “Are you and your team still surprised by requirements change and scope creep?” She added that traditional application software development mindset would not work in organisations today, simply because realities have changed. “Business environment is dynamic and volatile, and business models, structures and processes must change and adapt rapidly,” she added. In NOL, she said, IT spends 80 percent of time and money to finalise the last 20 percent of requirements, and no one could “freeze” the world for 15 to 24 months while IT would design, develop, test and implement the system.

Social Media and Labour Movement
Dr. Kwong Yuk Wah, CIO of National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), took the stage next to talk about “New Media Communications for Labour Movement”.

The NTUC is the umbrella group representing 61 different labour unions in Singapore. Under the NTUC, there are 12 social enterprises, the best known are FairPrice chain of supermarkets, and the NTUC Income life insurance entity.

Dr Kwong Yuk Wah
Dr Kwong Yuk Wah

According to Kwong, NTUC strives to engage its members through new social media channels. There are three channels through which NTUC interacts with the public: the UPortal for one-stop labour movement content and common e-services; social media as a new way of relationship building and communication with members; and mobile platform for leveraging on mobile devices to interact and engage members on the go.

Social media such as Facebook has been particularly encouraging for engaging the public, said Kwong. She cited the example of NTUC’s Facebook account to drive membership through referrals — asking them to become friends to “like” NTUC in order to win cash prizes and tickets to events. In a short span of 11 days in February 2011, its Facebook membership grew from about 2,000 to 7,175 fans. Currently, it has almost 46,000 fans following. That massive number would not have been possible without social media, she said, the platform has become an important one to not just attract eyeballs but to disseminate information as quickly as possible when there is a need to do so. On the mobile front, there is My NTUC location-based mobile app for NTUC news, directory, resources and membership promotions.


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