The Future CIO

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ROUNDTABLE RAYMOND SNODDY T he rapid advance of tech- nology has transformed the role of the chief informa- tion officer, propelling the CIO to the heart of the boardroom. It has also expanded the task of the CIO from being a passive guard - ian of an organisation's infrastruc- ture to an executive who is often leading change and creating new business opportunities in their own right. For Richard Cross, who is both CIO and chief digital officer of the construction and engineering group WS Atkins, technology has enabled moving systems into the cloud, using social media inter - nally to encourage a sense of com- munity and sharing, and getting more and more data on to hand- held devices. "We are using a whole bunch of techniques and ways of working that have come out of internet start - ups that enable an organisation to be agile and adaptive, and it's a case of digital by default in everything we do within the department, but also across the organisation," he says. Now instead of asking surveyors to map a site by hand and eye on the ground, WS Atkins sends out drones, which can provide a de - tailed 3D laser scan of a site in half an hour, and then check progress every day. "We have iPads with augmented reality and you point at what is just a piece of land and superimpose what the buildings will look like," says Mr Cross. For Andy Williams, CIO of Save the Children International, digi- tal technology is not just chang- ing the CIO role, but the charity's overall strategy and its ability to help marginalised children in 120 countries. Over the past three years, Save the Children has been able to make a good start on connecting its front - line humanitarian workers in the field using a wide range of network communications, from basic sat- ellite telecoms to modern mobile technology using fibre. Mr Williams is also working on automating the key processes in his vital supply chain to make sure "we have transferred the right re- sources to the right people at the right time and place, and to give our auditors and regulators both confi- dence and transparency". Save the Children, which sees it- self as an advocate for children's rights as well as a provider of hu- manitarian aid, wants to go one step further. Mobile and the cloud are impor- tant, but to Ms Scott the key thing is data, though not big data in the conventional sense. "I am saying data in terms of sensi - bly integrating data into every part of decision-making in the company, looking at marketing, advertising and product development, but also using data to drive operational ef - ficiencies," explains Ms Scott. Data can also help with journalistic work- flows "getting the story out faster in the best possible way", she adds. Bill Wilkins, CIO and chief tech- nology officer of First Utility, an in- dependent energy provider to one million homes, has been at the com- pany almost from its launch eight years ago. Without having to worry about legacy systems, Mr Wilkins, who POSITIVE CHANGES TO THE CIO'S ROLE SURVEY OF SENIOR IT DECISION-MAKERS Source: BT 2016 Share this article online via Raconteur.net is in charge of digital strategy, has been able to build a digital platform for interacting with consumers, giving them detailed information on how they use energy and how charges are calculated. "Consumers who use our digital platform and interact with us are less likely to leave us and are there - fore more profitable customers," he says. All four executives believe they have moved from a passive posi- tion – a cost centre often report- ing through the chief financial officer (CFO) – to a broader, more creative role engaging with the chief executive. Ms Scott says she wouldn't work for a company where the technology role doesn't report to the chief executive. "There are still a lot of compa - nies where the CIO reports to the CFO and then the chief operating of - ficer. They are the companies that haven't got it yet. It's a symptom of how technology is viewed where it's seen only as a cost as opposed to an opportuni - ty," adds the News UK executive. Mr Williams at Save the Children believes the CIO role is "starting to be one of the key change enablers in the executive team" where a collaborative leadership style is more important than re- porting lines. As for the future, Mr Cross of WS Atkins believes the role will expand to include the way the whole organisation looks at and uses technology. "It will become more and more central and important to organi - sations. It will still get the basics right on infrastructure, that's im- portant and essential, but it will also use technology to differenti- ate and create revenue and value," he predicts. For Mr Wilkins of First Utility there will be a further blurring of all the roles in the executive corri - dor driven by important underly- ing dynamics. The lead technical person in an organisation will also spend less time "turning and operating the crank " and more time trying to predict the impact of changing technologies. And that role could produce the greatest value for the organisation. Mr Williams is also looking over the next decade to technology be - yond mobile and social media to transform what his charity can achieve, includ - ing the internet of things and 3D printing. People are going to be able to print prosthetic limbs, he believes, and stories are start - ing to emerge about the possi- bility of printing clothing, shelter and even food. "In my lifetime I think that will be possible – I am an optimist although now we are concentrating on mo - bile, social media and the cloud," he says. In this time frame, top quali- ty CIOs will emerge increasingly from Asia and Africa, concludes Mr Williams, who is perfectly hap- py with the title of chief informa- tion officer. Technology has expanded the task of the CIO from being a passive guardian of an organisation's infrastructure to an executive who is often leading change and creating new business opportunities Boardroom role set to rise for top CIOs Four leading UK executives discuss the rise of the chief information officer and predict the role's future trajectory "It's early days, but we are thinking about how to create a digital advocacy and campaigning platform for chil- dren to be their own advocates. There is nothing more powerful in terms of children's rights than the voice of the child – being able to deliver their own messages to the policymakers of the world," says Mr Williams. The very different, and until re - cently, traditional world of national newspapers is being transformed by digital technology. Christina Scott, chief technolo - gy officer of News UK, publisher of The Times and the Sun, who spent the past three years in a similar role at the Financial Times, has seen the change from sending out printed news to readers, where you get a few letters back, to a digital world of in - stant feedback. 8/10 CIOs said they were either ' fulf illed' or 'very fulf illed' with their role in 2015, a slight increase from 2014 Source: Har vey Nash 51% Greater influence on the board/in business and strategy decisions 47% Greater opportunity for adding value to the business 45% Greater opportunity for innovation/creativity 41% Greater opportunity to formalise and consider company-wide IT policy 40% Introduction of multi-speed IT RICHARD CROSS ANDY WILLIAMS BILL WILKINS CHRISTINA SCOTT WS ATKINS SAVE THE CHILDREN FIRST UTILITY NEWS UK CIO & CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER CIO CIO & CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER RACONTEUR raconteur.net 15 THE FUTURE CIO 26 / 05 / 2016

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