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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.

Clifford echoed similar sentiments, stressing that IT needs to be run like a business. “The CIO of today has to be technologically aware, but completely business focused,” he said. He broke down the evolution of IT into consolidation, which is the basics of a working system; standardisation, which worked with efficiency and reduced cost; and finally transformation. “That’s where a company takes the changes in technology and spurs that back into benefitting the business,” he said.

On the bright side, he also consoled the audience that the first two phases were easily manageable with the right software. “When I started at EMC 10 years ago, it was 14 people to manage 10 terabytes of data,” he recalled. “These days, you can manage one petabyte of data with just one or two people. We’re moving to a point where only 40 percent of our business comes from hardware, and the remainder is from software and services.”

Bernard Tan, Principal Consultant, APJ and GCN, Schneider Electric also introduced tools that could help a CIO take his mind off the lights, through proper datacentre infrastructure management. “A well-managed datacentre can save you up to 20 percent on energy,” he said. “One of the biggest concerns among CIOs according to a Gartner study, is space and power.” 

Bernard Tan
Bernard Tan


Besides cost and energy savings, he told audiences that software like this was powerful in reducing the amount of monitoring that was necessary, through proper reporting and automated allocation of resources.

Goeres talked about how CIOs were well-positioned to strategise the business. “Now more and more we’re a catalyst, mirroring the roles of other C-levels, and strategist, because we know the data better than anybody else,” he said. He talked about changing metrics as well, for CIOs, from staying on budget and supporting the business in the past, to current metrics like customer service SLAs and time-to-profitability.

“This is a trend line that’s simmering to a slow boil. It is changing the value contribution of a CIO from a business enabler to a strategist — someone who converts efficiency into effectiveness.” He did, however, say that Asian countries were behind in this mentality, but that they would be catching up sooner rather than later.

He used telecom companies as an example — a technology-focused business that depends heavily on its CIO to innovate its business. “Telcos are in danger of becoming a dumb fat pipe, and that’s why they need to move up the value chain. Who’s in charge of this? The CIO because no one else understands the technology,” he said. 

However, he warned that the balancing act was and would continue to be difficult. “You push something here and something pops out somewhere else,” he said. “If the lights never come on, get on it… but if it’s taking up 90 percent of your time, then let the lights flicker once in a while, if you can use that time to help improve the business.”


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