CIOs need to end 'monopoly' thinking

By Divina Paredes, CIO New Zealand |  IT Management

"What is going on out there, what are the possibilities? We understand the technology, we need to be visionaries in our organisations. Transformation won't happen without our output."

He says this type of transformation is exemplified by the experience of Salman Khan, a hedge fund analyst in Boston who posted the videos of his tutorials to his niece on YouTube. Khan had the option to share it privately with his niece or share his lessons with the world, he chose the latter. Longhurst says over millions of people have already viewed his video lessons on YouTube. He has since quit his job and established the Khan Academy.

For Andrew Dutton, senior vice president, Asia Pacific and Japan at VMware, the transformation for the IT organisation is the idea of IT as a service function, competitive and able to relate to the competitive nature of business.

"It should be able to drop things that don't work anymore, and take commercial based risks," says Dutton.

Agility is important. Agility, Dutton points out, is the ability to stop doing things that are clearly not serving the business. "That is so hard for IT," he says. "Just say 'no', it is not going to work."

Dutton says he has shift a shift over decision criteria within the IT community in the last 18 months. "More and more CIOs are trusting other CIOs," he says. Their conversations are around "how did you do it? Show me."

At the same time CIOs are also changing their focus. "I am getting out of IT, I am becoming a business person with deep skill in IT. I am a business person first," says Dutton on the new IT leader transformation.

Les Williamson, vice president, for Cisco Asia Pacific, advises utilising the CIO's business technology insights for the board. Not everyone has the ambition of being a board director, but he suggests ICT leaders to polish their resume and get a director's course. "Eighty five percent of public boards need IT skills at that level," he says.

But he says ICT executives also have to speak the language of business. "We have to change the way we communicate," says Williamson who relates his own experience on this issue.

Five years ago, he was talking to the CEO of a major bank in Australia and mentioned the word 'bandwidth'. He says for the CEO, the word 'bandwidth' was "not in his comfort level" and told him it is best for him to talk to the CIO.

"We need to make sure who we are talking to, that is a skill we need to invest," says Williamson.

Trusted advisers

For Shane O'Neill, infrastructure and systems architect at Tourism Australia, the transformation of the IT organisation is reflected in the questions it gets from business users.

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