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CIO Conference: The many hats of today’s CIO

Lau Chak Onn | March 27, 2012
At this year’s CIO Conference, delegates and speakers gathered to discuss the growing responsibilities of CIOs and how their jobs have grown to encapsulate other C-levels.

MY conference crowd


The days of a CIO being viewed as head of IT may finally be numbered. In today’s business world, CIOs spend less time in the server room and more in the board room, looking to contribute to business growth in meaningful ways. Last month, CIO Asia organised a conference at the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur to pool industry specialists and delegates to share their thoughts on the growing responsibilities that today’s CIOs claim, the new challenges they face, and the tools and methodologies by which to manage them. 


Consumer appliances in the office
One of the common themes amongst the speakers was in accommodating new usage models amongst its users, primarily in devices such as tablets, and social networking websites to facilitate work.

In his opening address, TC Seow, the editor of CIO Asia talked about the change in scene from Blackberry and Nokia to Android and iOS devices. “The crux of the problem is conforming to new user needs. The CIO is expected to know not only what technology can bring but how business can grow, and provide services to match these new needs,” he said.

In his presentation on getting support and buy-in for projects, Andy Tan, Senior General Manager/CIO Informational Technology Department, EPF Malaysia mentioned how you need to get buy-in from senior management in any way you can. “Today, all our board and procurement papers are electronic. Even some of our 70-year old board members are forced to use the iPad,” he said. “That’s why I have two dedicated people to help them, for instance when they forget their passwords."

Andy Tan
Andy Tan

John E. Goeres, Managing Director, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practice, at Deloitte Consulting SEA called it the ‘consumerisation of IT’, or bringing consumer devices from our homes into the office. “The mentality these days is more of ‘Why can’t I use this device?’ More and more it’s thrust upon us to figure these things into our infrastructure,” he said.

John Goeres
John Goeres

In this regard, John Clifford, Director Executive Briefing Program Asia Pacific & Japan, of EMC, summed it up best, by separating today’s workforce into two categories – Digital Natives and Digital Migrants. He described the Natives as people who were born after 1990, who grew up with the Internet, and Migrants as people who were born before, and had to be accustomed to the new technology-driven lifestyle.

“These Digital Natives are about to hit the workplace and they’re changing the way we do business – forever,” he said. “In certain instances, they’re an inspiration to us, like, the way they embrace cloud computing is entirely different to us.” However, he warned that CIOs would need to anticipate their arrival and find ways to accommodate their needs. “For instance, them being not connected is the equivalent of us losing our phone, ID card, or glasses,” he said.


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