Friday, 16 September 2016 07:13

Australian CIOs focus on money-making products Featured

By Jennifer Foreshew
Bridget Gray Bridget Gray

New products and services are now the number one board priority for IT in Australia despite not rating highly globally, data shows.

Australian chief information officers were more focused on products that add value and growth to the bottom line than their global counterparts, who ranked it seventh as a priority. The latest findings come from the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2016 presented at a recent event in Sydney.

The study, which surveyed more than 3000 tech leaders, including 200-plus Australian CIOs/IT leaders, also found 70% of local organisations prefer IT to "make" rather than "save" money, compared with 63% globally.

The data revealed 69% of Australians surveyed believed the CIO role was becoming more strategic, ahead of 67% globally.

“With Australian CEOs now looking to make money out of technology, there is a natural increase in demand for the strategic skill set of the Creative CIO,’’ Harvey Nash Asia-Pacific managing director Bridget Gray said. “It is impossible now to write a technology roadmap without it being completely in step with the broader business strategy. The exciting observation now is that technology is leading business strategy, not the other way around.”

Guy Holland, who is partner in charge of KPMG’s Digital Consulting, Technology Strategy & Performance practice, said transformation had become synonymous with revolutionising the way organisations interact with and service their customers.

“Digital innovation, and by implication technology innovation, is the driving force for transformation,” he said.

The survey, which is now the largest IT leadership survey in the world, found compared with the global average, a CIO from Australia was more likely to promote diversity. Forty per cent have a formal gender diversity program, compared with 33% globally.

The new findings coincided with the Australian Creative CIO launch event attended by about 160 global technology influencers.

A panel discussion heard the key to a successful large scale transformation started with good business sponsorship and also required experienced talent.

“I look for the right person to be in the right role,” Transport NSW group CIO Tim Catley said. “Are they passionate about what needs to happen? Have they got the ability to influence at the executive level? Have they got the relevant experience to make it a success? Often that is the first thing.”

He said finding the best talent fit was critical.

“My experience is when I don’t have the right people in the right roles with the scale experience, the ability to deal with ambiguity and senior stakeholders, it makes being successful very difficult.”

Simon Farrell, chief technology officer at online gift and experience retailer RedBalloon, said one of the biggest lessons was learning acceptance to fail.

“This is a bit clichéd, but ‘fail fast’ and learn from your mistakes,” he said. “At RedBalloon, we are very lucky to have a really trusting board. I have rolled a few things out that haven’t worked, but I have been able to quickly turn it around and make a change so it obviously came up better.”

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