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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.

Bobby Varanasi from Matryzel returned by highlighting the importance of information. “Without the information, it doesn’t matter if the CEO keeps shareholders happy. The intelligence today has become a slave to technology and none of us can live without it. The ability to distinguish between raw data and structured data and the intelligence that can be derived from it – this is the ability of the CIO.”

Cheah Kok Hoong from Sunway Group then gave a memorable rebuttal using the analogy that CIOs were girls and CEOs were boys, which registered more laughs than votes with the audience. To transform a girl to fit into a boy’s shoes would be impossible, he implied to the chagrin of the audience.

Tony Wong from IGB argued that CIOs already had that knowledge from managing their own P&L’s. “And not just our own, but approving budgets for our users’ projects as well. It’s practically like managing an entire company,” he said. 

Rob Cayzer from MDeC then replied that by that rationale, all C-levels should become CEO, and went on with more rebuttals on why CIOs cannot become the top executive in their organisations.

To this, John Clifford replied for the YES team with the experience CIOs have with getting buy-ins from other C-levels. “If you look at the characteristics of any good CEO, it’s not your technical knowledge or financial knowledge — it’s leadership,” he said.

John Atherton from Scheider Electric then concluded for the NO team arguing that there were no parts of a CIO’s job tied specifically to revenue generation and communication, which was key in managing a company. “Their track record for cross-departmental communications is not fantastic,” he argued. “How often do you see a sales director who is 100 percent satisfied with their sales CRM application? Hardly ever.”

After the votes were counted, the YES team won with approximately 65 percent majority of votes.


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