Key Trends to Help the CIO Enhance Business

By: Cait Snell| - Leave a comment

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We spoke with some top minds here at IBM about what exactly keeps the CIO up at night.

“I see the journey of IT for CIOs over the last 70 years or so has been prominently around productivity,” explains Rashik Parmar, IBM’s technical executive for Europe. “It’s about using IT to increase the productivity of staff in the enterprise, in the business that they serve. And then we’ve evolved from that into building performance.

“So how do I increase the performance [and] reduce the time it takes to do things? First, it’s simply by replacing manual activity [with] some kind of automation, which is what we refer to as productivity. And then, performance is about reducing the time it takes to get things done. And in more recent times, I guess in the last four or five years, maybe 10 years, big data has become so dominant that we’ve seen the emergence of predictability as the next big outcome.

“So for me, they’re the three primary outcomes: productivity, performance and predictability.”

The CIO and the Three P’s

What captivates many leaders is the crossover of these three P’s, both inside and outside the CIO’s office.

For Nigel Reichelt, IBM’s CIO services manager for the U.K. and Ireland, productivity is more than automation: It’s about enabling his people.

“[Productivity means] recognizing what it is that we need to provide to our workforce to make an organization that’s dependent on IT — and let’s be fair, who isn’t these days? — appealing to everybody. But particularly, I think, to Generation X: those who are looking to bring in young, enthusiastic people into their business to rejuvenate it and [who] recognize that the tools — the enterprise tools, the hopefully world-class tools that you can operate in a world-class organization — are obviously key and critical.”

Supporting Staff Through Technology

Cloud is critical, and not only as the server in the sky. The cloud empowers the automation of IT, while IT automates the business. Cloud technology also boosts productivity while simplifying solutions that allow the workforce and the end user to maximize their output simultaneously.

Beyond that, technologies like the cloud develop key skills for the workforce that allow them to grow personally and take responsibility for business needs. Cloud also allows complex journeys and workloads to be mapped out and thought through in a simpler way. And once complexity is removed, productivity increases.

“I’ve got an existing estate of workloads: I’ve got to decide which ones I want to move, which ones I want to keep,” Parmar reflects. “So how do you help the business leaders decide where they want to invest in cloud [and] where to protect the existing investments?”

For Reichelt, the pivotal point of these requirements hinges on where the business actually needs to be.

“This allows you to really step outside of the premise that you’ve got traditional technologies being where you have to build those solutions,” he notes. “[You can] take the opportunity to go understand what you actually need and therefore look to understand how that solution can actually be […] replacing some of those technologies [and] augmenting them, if that’s not the case.”

IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) provides an additional solution to support these business issues. Beyond the products, ITaaS can look at the range of tools and services a business needs to provide that in one digestible package. By enabling a solution to be created specifically for the business, ITaaS works to tailor each package according to the specific needs, requirements and requests of each individual business. This empowers the enterprise to function more efficiently and illustrates how investing in the long term is what enables business today to run smoothly.

Bringing It to the People

So how do the employees tie in with this ethos?

“IT has sometimes got to lead the way in new ways of working,” notes Parmar. “So in performance, a big aspect of that is DevOps. [But] how do we translate that cultural change into the organization?”

Reichelt echoes this perspective.

“[DevOps] is now absolutely the model in which we’re trying to operate: agile practices, looking to demonstrate that we can be responsive to the way the business needs us to be and bringing these new technologies and approaches forward,” he comments.

The other side to DevOps is to embrace the data, enhancing and giving reason to responsiveness. If your method isn’t working according to the data, what changes have been proven to work better?

Internally, IBM works as a massive generator of data. We’re seeing more and more individual teams use analytics as confidence with data grows. Cognitive solutions provide just one way to tackle this challenge.

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