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REPORT: State of Asian CxO Survey 2013

T.C. Seow | Oct. 16, 2013
Rapid changes notwithstanding, the Asian CIO is still expected to be malleable and flexible enough to be in the driver's seat to champion the use of IT in his or her organisation.

Take proving the value of IT for instance. It's an old issue but given today's context, the value of IT has to be its adaptability to suit the needs of not just traditional IT users but also the businesspeople who want to be as close to their customers as possible. IT has to be seen as an enabler to help drive the business, not just for ensuring processes run like smooth silk.

Perhaps more perplexing is the issue of proving ROI on deployments like BYOD or Big Data, where risk management on the one hand poses great difficulties, and the dearth of analytical skills makes it hard to see where the money should be put. And on top of all this, the pressure to keep costs down, or worse, a tightened budget caused by funds flowing into non-IT departments.

The question about the lack of key technical skill sets with IT is another tough nut to crack. Technical training, especially in software development and project management, is widely available, yet CIOs continue to face a shortage of qualified personnel to join the IT department. Part of the reason perhaps is the changing outlook of the younger generation of workforce entering the IT profession. No longer keen to commit to long hours of training, they often lack the attention span nor the tenacity to stick around a job for long to gain the necessary experience for more rewarding jobs further down their IT career.

But who is to blame for unrealistic expectations of the IT department? As mentioned earlier, accessible technology is easy to procure and adapt, even without the blessings from the CIO. The perception gap is bound to grow wider so long as the IT department does not pander to demands from business or other users who want to possible improvements disruptive IT can bring.

Table 6

What do the CIOs have to say? Table 7 lists their five biggest concerns, and they are not surprising. At the top are the unrealistic expectations from superiors and possibly from their peers too who hold on to the belief that the CIO should be the one to enable possibly anything they want. CIOs too have to shoulder the blame to some extent, since they see increasing complexity of the business environment as a concern. They shouldn't.

Table 7

Close below these top five concerns are two others: the lack of executive teamwork and sharing of responsibility, and risk and uncertainty due to volatile economic conditions. Executive teamwork is possible only if there is good understanding of one another's roles—an issue that the CIO has to address. As for accountability, project sponsorships are a way to assign ownership and accountability, but this will again rely on how well understood are all the parties concerned in implementing a project to full success.


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