How long have you been in your current role?
I have been with IVI Services for almost two and half years, the first two as the Head of Channel and Strategic Alliances, and most recently as the Commercial Director.
What are your day to day responsibilities?
As Commercial Director, I am focused on growing the footprint and adoption of the IT-CMF framework. As an open source framework, we are always looking for new members to bring fresh insights and perspectives to our body of knowledge. At the same time, we seek out the best consultancy firms across the world, to take the IT-CMF into their clients, growing our footprint, and helping to raise IT maturity across the globe.
What is your professional background?
My background began in Sales, but over the past 15 years, I have been focused on channel and partner development.
How do your particular areas of expertise manifest themselves in your current role?
When you work with the Channel, you must always be looking for the Win-Win-Win outcome. The win for your partner, the win for their client, and the win for you. This is hugely relevant for IVI. We’re not building a body of knowledge for our own gain.
The goal of the IT-CMF framework is to build a body of knowledge that will aid IT across the globe to drive true value to the business. We want our partners to have the best tools they can possibly have, to reduce the time to solution delivery with their clients, and give them an edge in a competitive marketspace. And finally, we want to position our framework as a global standard, highlighting the strength of Irish research and positioning Ireland as an international hub for innovation.
How do you see your role developing in 5 years’ time?
A timely question! It is an exciting time for IVI, and we have significant plans for the next few years.
The nature of knowledge consumption is changing. How people interact and learn is already radically different than it was five years ago. As we develop, I see my role being less about traditional customer and partner acquisition, and transitioning to leading a community of the best and brightest in Irish IT and Business who are dedicated to solving the IT problems of the future, providing them with a structure to work in, an environment to share, an a channel for business and IT insights, to aid them in their decision making.
Our strength has always been our open source nature, and as we go into the new digital world, I see us doubling down on that.
What advice would you give to someone adopting a CIO role for the first time?
The CIO is without a doubt one of the most challenging roles in the C-Suite. CIOs need to be people leaders, change leaders, business leaders and technology leaders. That’s a huge burden to carry.
From our IT benchmark of nearly a thousand organisations across the globe, we see the same problems occurring time and again.
1) Separation between business and IT
2) A lack of focus on the traditional IT backbone in favour of business led focuses on latest trends (I’m looking at you, digital)
3) IT employee capability is never developed fast enough to handle IT change in a timely manner
If I had to summarise,
1) Focus less on technology, focus on people.
2) Build the relationships with business, focus on that alignment between the two sides of the house.
3) Never forget the traditional aspects of IT, keep your house in order. Enterprise Architecture Management will never go out of style.
4) Build continuous capability development plans for your people. Keep them fresh.
And if I could offer one final piece of advice, adopt IT-CMF!
What are the greatest challenges facing modern technology leaders?
So much has been said about this. The technology leaders of today and the next few years have so much to focus on, including the digital transformation, big data, security and people management. I doubt I could add more to that.
If I had to focus on something through, it is the cultural change that is coming down the line. We often talk about millennials, but I am far more interested in Gen Z, the generation that grew up never not knowing the internet. Gen Z grew up with omnipresent personal communication and social networking, with services and knowledge instantly or near instantly on hand. Already, they’re beginning to hit the job market.
How will they adapt to entering organisations with legacy IT systems, idiosyncratic policies and rules, and delayed response times? This isn’t just a technology problem, this is a technology/leadership problem. Our benchmark shows that cultural issues exist as a problem in every organisation as it stands. How will they resist this massive change, and how many IT and business leaders are thinking about this right now?
How do you think a CIO can best support company revenue growth?
Firstly, understand the business, just as well as the COO and the CFO. Understand their needs, and the customer needs.
Secondly, once you have that insight, help business understand your business. I’ve seen it too often, business expecting IT to deliver miracles at the drop of a hat, forcing IT into either committing to a course of action with a sub-optimal outcome, or saying ‘no’ and reinforcing the stereotype of ‘the land of slow and no’.
Once both sides understand each other, then begin to ask the questions about technology and which projects can help meet the customer needs and business objectives.
Ensure that the projects are actually business accelerators. Even in my brief time in IVI, I have seen organisations engage in massive projects, that on the surface appear to be worthwhile, but ultimately are doing nothing to aid the business in revenue growth.
Business invests in IT, when IT delivers results for business. Pick your battles carefully, commit when you truly believe it’ll make a commercial difference, and step back from anything that detracts from your core business of making your IT department serve your customers more effectively. If you’ve done a good job building understanding between business and IT, they’ll understand when you say no, and support it.
The Innovation Value Institute are sponsors of the CIO & IT Leaders Summit on September 12th in Croke Park. Tickets for this important national event can be purchased at www.ciosummit.ie