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Consulting Archives - Page 3 of 4 - CIOstraightalk
Corporate Boardroom Tech Challenge

Corporate Boardroom Tech Challenge

Are Chairpersons Preparing their Boards for Technology Readiness

The shocking truth about the lack of technology awareness on many corporate Boards in top British firms is exposed!

Executive directors are usually selected for their leadership qualities; they often have experience with general management or leadership experience rather than narrow expertise or technical acumen. So the big question is why should knowledge of IT be an exception?

“Scouting the net to see what topics I could find on the subject of bringing the CIO to the Board table I came across an interesting article from Jean-Louis Bravard, Chairman for DotLondon.” States Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London-based CCServe Consulting. “I could not agree more with some of the findings from Jean-Louis so Non-Executive Board members should be actively targeting sound Technology experts.”

A few months ago Jean-Louis decided to look into the professional experience of non-executive directors at the major banks listed in Britain. Like almost every other major industry today, banking relies on hugely complex, enormously expensive technology.

Jean-Louis goes on to say; So I was curious as to whether the individuals charged with corporate governance would have any more than a layman’s knowledge of IT. I discovered that only one bank had a board member with some direct experience in technology and in that case it was as a sales executive.

I’m afraid this is typical not just in banking but across most major industries. Technology is the most important agent of change today; hardly any industry is immune to both its value-creating and disruptive potential. Yet I perceive a large gap between the direct experience of non-executive directors and the experience required to challenge and support chairmen and CEOs in their quest to bring the best technology to their business.

The truth is that many industries today employ outdated technology. Consumer banking is one — layers of technology have been implemented since the 1960s and almost nothing has been taken out. A total overhaul is required. There are countless other examples. Fax machines remain the preferred way to share health care data in most countries despite the fact that the cloud could theoretically allow clinicians to instantaneously share medical records. Chalk remains the technological tool of choice in most education settings. Utilities have only recently begun to add sensors throughout the electric grid and add smart meters in homes and business.

The main reason for this lag is that the project horizon of most IT overhauls goes beyond executive tenures. The cost of overhauls can run into the billions of dollars, the risk of overruns and even failure is high, and that means that many executives kick technology refreshes into the tall grass. Of course, this leaves too many companies vulnerable to technology-fuelled disruption. Few expected Apple to disrupt the music industry (with the iPod and iTunes), communication (with the iPhone) and now potentially consumer banking with ApplePay. Amazon dramatically impacted not just book shops but shopping; Google is now a verb. Who would argue against a future in which disruptive services continue to impact everything from healthcare to retail to personal finances?

Only a multi-year, board-level sponsored effort can ensure a responsible IT overhaul. But without IT expertise at the director level, how can a board truly make an educated decision and, more importantly, follow it through until the end of the project, adapting the design of the overhaul over the course of years to take advantage of rapidly changing technology and consumer behaviour?

The Remedy

Craig Ashmole goes on to suggest, “We need to ensure that corporate governance includes sufficient oversight of technology, and companies should be following basic principles” such as:

  • Hire a technology expert to your board. That is probably the most difficult task and it is very industry dependent. Give priority to individuals with experience scars, both success and failures and who continue to be involved with technology. This means look ‘Outside the Box”, be receptive to new talent, perhaps those new to NED or Board roles. Technology moves too fast for “stale” talent, however well-informed innovation leaders should be sort who can rapidly educate the board. Be prepared to rotate this role every few years.
  • Don’t rely entirely on Big-5 advisers. Many boards rely on technical advisers and Big-5 consultants to assess their firm’s technology needs. Too often the corporate advice these advisers offer is generic. It’s often focused on the competitive environment — used to reassure management that it is not falling behind rivals. This leads to the predominance of the lowest common denominator.
  • Ask tough questions about technology spending. Using Moore’s Law, zero-based budgeting would call for technology spending to fall each year by about 30%; in most companies spending goes up by at least 5% annually. Part of the reason is that CIOs are not rewarded for taking out old code and old hardware; instead they “layer” old technology on top of ancient technology, bad on top of worse.
  • Understand the cyber threat. Unfortunately, new technology opens up vulnerabilities even as it creates value. Total security is not possible, but understanding the risk-benefit trade-off is essential. A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by Raytheon, found that 80% of boards do not even receive briefings on their company’s cyber security strategy.

Poor corporate governance remains a problem at many companies and is a complicated challenge that goes beyond a shortage of technology expertise. But this scarcity of technology experts is one of the easiest problems to fix.

The Board Chairperson Challenge

The Board Chair should test their company’s preparedness to handle technological change by mapping current and future challenges to their current non-executive directors’ pool. They will almost surely discover there is a gap between their team and their corporate needs; using the suggestions above should help the board bridge the gap.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Failing Corporate Recruitment Processes

Failing Corporate Recruitment Processes

Top Frustrations for Interim Consulting and the Divide between the Corporate Recruiting Process

Are Corporate HR addressing the hiring process for Interim Consulting staff in a manner that befits their experience levels and capabilities?

The gulf between hiring Interim Consultants vs Permanent employees

There is a “gulf of expectation” between employers and contractors over how long the hiring process should take. A white paper by a top London recruitment specialist firm looking at maximising the value of Contractors, surveyed over 500 self-employed workers and hiring managers across the UK, it found 95% of interim contractors expect the hiring process to take no more than three weeks. However, over half (52% of employers) expect the negotiations to take much more than this, leading to frustration among the interim and self-employed candidates.

The ‘gulf’ is in the HR functions recognition of remuneration method between Interim versus Permanent. Permanent roles once hired enjoy ‘gardening leave’ income waiting to start new roles. Interim Consultants, on the other hand only invoice for working days actually delivered, while also easily being disposed of without typical employee benefits if programmes are stalled or shut down. The recruiting process fundamentally forgets these key differences when delaying decisions take place.

weeks graph

It’s natural that experienced seasoned Interim Consultants view this approach less favourably. We understand seasoned Interims are typically on the upper end of consulting day rates but often more qualified than the role, which brings real additional value for an employer. If Interims were being placed quicker could these day rates become a little more competitive? Well that’s an interesting angle. Employers risk losing high-skilled, specialist Interim candidates if they drag their heels during the hiring process.

The Hiring process of Interim Consultants and full-time employees should certainly be looked at separately with regard to decision process, delay and skills requirements from both the in-house HR and recruitment firms.

The Pigeon-Hole approach

Something quite common in the corporate hiring process is the HR list of skills and requirements for a position, but sadly this has created what we all know in the recruitment game as the ‘Pigeon Hole’ effect often phrased as ‘the computer says NO’!

Recruitment agents are good at pigeon holing candidates, after all it suits them to place candidates in the ‘holes’ that their clients are looking for because that is when they get paid. It’s also easier to have a robot application throw out 90% of the applicants. I often find recruitment agencies, just don’t get it, when you have a conversation on soft skills like personality management and ability to deliver, which cannot be placed in a category. Agencies, however tow the line HR departments lay out as the competition is so high. The focus on finding senior level personnel or Interim Consultants who can actually get the job done with the ‘right’ business acumen is more often clouded by tick box lists of  superfluous certifications or skills often only required for staff that “actually write the code”, so as to speak.

Corporate HR pushing CV’s back into the Recruitment process

An activity often found in the corporate HR function is; pushing CV’s of candidates received directly from their careers web portal back into recruitment firms to process, and dare I say it, to be “pigeon holed” again, but this time paying an exorbitant extra marked up cost for the privilege. Where’s the logic in that? Please remind me, what was the HR function established to do again!

While accepting the different levels of candidates required for hire across an organisation there should, in my humble opinion, be a more recognised respect within the HR process for the senior end of the spectrum especially with regard to Interim Consulting roles. These roles often support the executive CXO layer or head of departments, so perhaps a little more respect from the HR function as if they were hiring their own Executive layer. It’s not  difficult to pick out the quality of seasoned Interim Consultants, especially those that might have approach firms directly. Interims very often spend substantial time researching target clients, before reaching out to key members of the organisation for consideration. The HR function seems to have missed an opportunity here, and that’s to use basic common sense in recognising which CV’s need to be pushed out to recruitment firms and which should be channelled directly to the HR Director – there’s a massive cost implication to corporations based on the action taken here.

So is hiring the right skills too robotic?

The 2015 recruitment market is certainly a buyers’ market and sadly that depicts the way skilled resources are being treated today. In my experience, including views from many Interims I have spoken to, we all feel the same; There’s very little respect of the experience and skills Interim candidate can bring by both HR departments and the recruitment firms.

The buyers’ Market has tarnished the Interim process too, as agencies become more blasé and have less time to read the true value of soft skills Interim candidates bring. As an Interim Consultant, I often try to establish and build a relationship with agencies that one sees as professional enough to put your resume and credentials forward, but that’s becoming an impossibility when one cannot even get a call returned. We are seeing a washing away of valuable soft skills like executive layer stakeholder management, empathy and people impartiality so often required in programmes to get the ‘job done’.

I would go as far as suggesting that senior level Interim roles require more than the 40 second CV scan more junior roles get from agencies today. Along with this, the demand for CV’s to be short means Interim CV’s are harder to garner the wider capabilities, usually due to the number of roles they have typically engaged. I very often find myself following up with a skills matrix and a more detailed introduction letter to try to raise profile visibility.

Who are the winners and who are the losers?

Well that’s an interesting debate indeed. Trying to put a fair spin on this I would suggest the recruitment firms are really the winners, the losers are the corporates. Corporations tend to pay way over the odds for the senior layer of employees or Interim Consulting resources. Remembering that the interim market look reduce gap between assignments, so added delay in the hire process will inevitably get reflected in day rates. You will always get more qualified Interim than what’s actually being sort so corporates should look to take advantage of that, but pushing CV’s back unnecessarily into recruitment firms to process will increase day rates to justify all the recruitment firm activity.

“This is not a witch hunt on the recruitment firms out there,” states Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London based IT consulting CCServe. “I have many good colleagues in that field, but I do question the lazy approach the corporate HR function takes for not recognising senior level skills that come to them in the first instance.”

Many executives have said, ‘The rates that Interim Consultants charge makes hiring these skills so much more difficult to justify’, which does pose the question, what will be the ramification to Consulting? I fear that the losers with be the corporations for not getting their HR house in order, from a cost and access to skills perspective.

Balancing the argument, recruiters and hiring managers are often not on the same page. Yes, there are the small percentage of hiring managers who are savvy about hiring and deeply involved in the process. However, the large majority of hiring managers could do a much better job of “participating in their own roles” and understanding the processes. The amount of times I have heard a corporation has gone out to source an Interim role draining both candidate and recruitment firm time only to say; “We have decided to source internally”.

Hiring managers, the corporate recruit firms and the HR function all working together can lower the cost of hiring, improve the quality of skilled resources while reducing the time to fill.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Whos running corporate tech strategy

Whos running corporate tech strategy

Gartner’s views on who will be running corporate technology

CIOs are fully aware they need to change in order to succeed in the digital business, 75% of IT executives say that they need to change their leadership style over the next three years

In August 2013 Gartner came up with three distinct roles that it thought would much more closely define the job of the digital chief or CDO in a rapidly changing tech world. So where does that put the CIO now in 2015.

According to a report that Gartner produced on the topic there were three new executive roles potentially filling the gaps left by CIOs who are more interested in ERP than accepting the challenges of the broader digital strategy of the business.

Gartner’s survey of 2,800 CIOs in 84 countries showed that CIOs are fully aware that they will need to change in order to succeed in the digital business, with 75% of IT executives saying that they need to change their leadership style in the next three years.

There has been much discussion and blogging on where the businesses were going with regard to their CIO existence and this was driven largely by CIOs not prepared to move away from historic comfort zones like application services and ERP. There is no doubt that the evolving digital world has exposed gaps in digital leadership and has in many cases led to the creation of the chief digital office (CDO) role, which the analyst house said would exist within 25 percent of enterprises by mid-2015.

“The exciting news for CIOs,” says Gartner, “is that despite the rise of roles, such as the chief digital officer, they are not doomed to be an observer of the digital revolution.”

According to the survey, 41% of CIOs are reporting to their CEO. Gartner notes that this is a return to one of the highest levels it has ever been, no doubt because of the increasing importance of information technology to all businesses.

So where are we now? Is that percentage correct? Probably not far off but Gartner see that figure rising to 50 percent in heavily regulated industries such as banking and insurance.

Gartner believed 18 months ago that the role of the CDO would need to be broken down even further into three distinct roles rather than just one, into digital strategy advisers (DSAs), digital market leaders (DMLs) or digital business unit leaders (DBULs). In effect these roles replace three distinct ones from the pre-digital technology age: The back office, front office and head office.

The Digital Strategic Adviser (DSA) is there to advise the board, CEO and executives on the question, “How will we survive and thrive in an increasingly digital world?” Gartner said this exec “may also lead teams executing on this digital vision particularly when combined with another role, such as CIO or digital business unit leader”.

The Digital Marketing Leader (DML), will ensures that the end-to-end marketing strategy and its execution is as good as it can be with top-notch design and creation of digital products and a focus on new markets and channels. The DML will have a special responsibility for market retention – holding on to customers, and so may have a marketing background.

The Digital Business Unit Leader (DBUL) is “the CEO of online/digital business units”, Gartner said. The DBUL is defined as focusing solely on online or digital channels and digital products and services. The business model and products sold by this business unit “may or may not be the same as those sold by other business units”. says Gartner. This could be a role filled by the CIO — at a stretch.

Reports from the Gartner Symposium in 2014 highlighted another Gartner finding: While CIOs say they are driving 47% of digital leadership only 15% of CEOs agree that they do so.

Similarly, while CIOs estimate that 79% of IT spending will be “inside” the IT budget (up slightly from last year), Gartner says that 38% of total IT spending is outside of IT already, and predicts that by 2017, it will be over 50%. This is a “shift of demand and control away from IT and toward digital business units closer to the customer,” says Gartner.

One of the interesting shifts noticed is being driven from outside the company’s control, as Gartner further estimates that 50% of all technology sales vendors are actively selling direct to the business units, not IT departments.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Boardroom Technology time bomb

Boardroom Technology time bomb

Board member time bomb for those not focused at Technology

We should actually be concerned about things boards are ‘NOT’ discussing

There have been many articles written about placing IT technology agendas on the boardroom table and also many recent blogs about the potential demise of the CIO role as the CMO or CDO leap forward into the limelight of corporate awareness. This is not surprising as in many corporations today the CIO or technology officers still do not have a voice let alone a seat at the boardroom table.

CEOs and their executive leadership teams should recognise that if they don’t have the technology knowledge at their fingertips then they are making corporate decisions in the dark. Boards should be building technology agendas into the core of their medium term business strategy, if they don’t want to be overtaken by their competition. The digital agenda does drive business growth and in turn revenue and market share – so this is why CEOs should be consciously recognising technology does have a say in the way that the business grows.

“One area of change I see in the corporate executive shuffle of today’s businesses is the aspiration to own the digital space”, comments Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London based IT consulting CCServe. “Marketing executives understand the digital needs and CIOs feel threatened that they do, but it is Technology that’s required to make it all happen”.

Technology executives need to move with the times supporting marketing initiatives, being creative while efficiently using technology and becoming enablers rather than gatekeepers, then gaps wont develop within the executive ranks nor will ‘shadow IT’ proliferate over the corporation.

Board members should take their quota of responsibility to open up wider discussions around how the company grows its business efficiently using technology otherwise they are likely to fall behind. As a counter argument the CIO or technology leaders need to do their bit, which requires them to better understand how to be a commercial business leader not just a ‘tech-na-geek’ hiding behind technology – the CIO role needs to be a commercial business leader who understands where innovative technology will make a difference.

When a company grows through acquisition or chooses to carve-out non core elements of its business, this is another compelling reason to have ones IT technology ‘in-shape’ enabling the ease of separation or reducing merger ‘join-up’ time, which obviously reduces cost of acquisition.

So some areas of food for thought!

How well is the present IT Technology strategy delivering?

By putting the CIO or the technology agenda on the agenda of the boardroom table will enable all executives to better understand their position in the marketplace. The CIO needs to be able to articulate this in business language not technical language.

Can you clearly establish business efficiency from ones technology?

The CIO should be making rapid change or transformation within his department, moving day to day functional utilities services, like IT desktop support, software application management, Network / Telecoms services into more efficient engagement models some of which may well be outsourced service partners. The focus for internal resources can then be more effectively focussed at innovative solutions or applications that will drive corporate business and revenue growth. In other words move away from the old school technology ‘Ivory Towers’ and massive IT departments to mean lean agile innovative technology enablement.

If you are an ecommerce organisation; have you addressed a payments, mobility strategy?

One of the biggest areas of growth/change presently is in the mobile payments and Near Field Communications (NFC) areas. With Apple and the mobile market place looking to drive payments with your smart phone and the Credit Card banking players trying to open up automatic payments by NFC and chip-and-pin touch payments there’s a lot going on.

With the likes of electronic payments company’s such as the traditional PayPal and SagePay we are also seeing the big power houses of both Amazon and Google engaging and driving electronic payments strategies. More recently the major European region the acquisition of Skrill by Optimal Payments has created a new power house payments group which will see rapid technology advancement.

Do your customers have the tools or applications needed to do business with you?

The CIO or IT Department has for so long been inwardly focussed and this has to change. The old school approach of saying that the service or application has not been approved or developed by the IT dept. so it is not permitted to be used; has to go. IT should be the enabler when users bring new ideas to the forefront while looking to how they could efficiently bring new services or applications into the business in a controlled and security conscious manner.

Is security a worry for you? If it’s not then you are in trouble already.

This has to be the one area that you should never say never. The likes of the recent hacks like Ashley Maddison, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Apple iCloud should be a constant reminder that one should never be complaisant when it comes to data security and in keeping your customer data or PII Personal Identifiable Information (email, tel numbers, credit card and passwords) secure. This is a wide subject but should in all respects have a dedicated leader within the business driving this department ensuring that you keep your business safe from the world of hackers and fraudsters.

“So the time bomb that needs to be subdued is the ever widening gap between corporate board members and the understanding of the value technology brings to a corporation.” Craig goes on to say, “Corporate decisions; like where to expand the business geographically or whether to go through with an acquisition should not be made in the ‘dark’, and it is technology that could potentially make the difference to success or failure with those corporate board decisions.”

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Merger IT Survival Tactics

Merger IT Survival Tactics

Survival tactics during a business merger

When engaging in a merger or acquisition the complexity of issues for consolidation of staff and technology becomes a highly charged and often underestimated undertaking.

Apart from the obvious joining up of financial and fiscal systems in an acquisition, IT plays a major role as different IT systems must be consolidated and made to work together, in order to reduce acquisition cost creep. Bringing in senior consulting skills from outside the company to manage the Transformation programme or IT change could be as critical as the target acquisition for the business.

“Board members all know that a merger has risk which needs to be managed — not only politically but technically. It’s about how to reduce, what I call, post-merger ‘Join-up time’ that really makes a successful acquisition.” Suggests Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner at London based CCServe Consulting. “In my opinion an executive or board appointed key ‘Point-of-Contact’ is required, bridging the Board with the Operational side of the merging companies, and someone without emotional ties to those same employees.”

In a post-merger situation making the right choices and decisions and pushing the right buttons to get things done on time and under budget are key objectives – not easily made when one is personally professionally close to individuals that you might be releasing as a result of consolidation. This is where the independent approach works best; as senior skilled Change consultants don’t carry baggage, they carry the ability and gravitas to understand what needs to be done, make tough decisions, and to attempt to do it under budget.

“In a recent M&A due diligence exercise I was engaged, one of the key factors observed and what ultimately resulted in a successful acquisition was ‘being transparent’ in dialogue between the acquirer and the acquired parties, so ensure to have a functional communication strategy in place”, Craig goes on to say.

Reading an interesting article by Mary Shacklett I found some key and not-so-obvious points which endorse what I consider key actions while driving an acquisition or carve-out, namely:-

1: Understand what is really at stake

Mergers aren’t just “clinical” projects that convert systems so they work together. For IT and throughout the organisation’s involved, mergers mean that some jobs are likely to be consolidated as well. Some staffers are going to keep their jobs while others might not. Then there comes the bun fight of who’s more skilled or who has more value for the business. Not forgetting IT staff also have technical allegiance to systems that it may be familiar with. So if a favoured system is designated for termination, there could be fear and bitterness especially if it eliminates particular technical skill sets required. IT engineers are often creatures of habit.

2: Consider sabotage in your risk management strategy

Consolidation between two companies often creates a “victim” company whose systems are going away, where IT staffers may be uncooperative or withhold vital information needed to safely convert their systems to the new platform. This is a subtle form of non-cooperation, so not really pure “sabotage” but one done to try to hold on to their positions and in some cases where severe elements of this happen as pure anger and desire for the acquisition to fail.

Something not to be missed is the inherent risk of converting what I call bespoke unprotected and unsupported applications or “black box” solutions without clear documentation. If it’s a high dependent application then this is high risk for open standards conversion.

3: Communicate the “Good” the “Bad” and the “Evil”

When project news is bad, give it to the people in what I refer to as no-nonsense straight-talking and as quickly as possible once it’s been brought to your attention. Some project managers struggle to deliver bad news, then small problems fester until they become insurmountable. Seasoned interim business executives understand how difficult system consolidations are, so are usually strong executive stakeholder managers. A seasoned Business Change consultant will also quickly see the development of out of place staff actions or activities which may well prevent corporate data loss or fraud. I have even seen IT staff loading servers and PCs onto trucks when moving departments and then selling them on from their garages.

4: Lay out your staffing plans as soon as reasonably possible

If some staffers are going to lose their positions because of the merger, ensure to negotiate reasonable settlements and provide employment assistance for them as part of the cost of acquisition. This should be managed and actioned as early on as possible to prevent disruption of those staying on. Get new organisational structures communicated sooner rather than later as this provides untold stress and drops staffing moral the longer it is left.

5: Ensure that there is a vendor strategy

Vendors don’t like to be the ‘fall-guy’ in an acquisition so be prepared for some vendors to be unusually and sometimes unreasonably slow to respond to requests for de-commission programs, especially if they start to throw their contract terms at you.

The vendor contract should be reviewed early on to understand the risk factors for a de-commission. Also in my view you can use the ‘stick and carrot’ approach as no vendor wants to have the market told that they have lost a key account and in the carrot method giving a vendor more of the ‘pie’ can enable more favourable cost points or better contract terms.

So in Summary

One cannot ever overdo visibility in a Change Transformation project so keep the executive stakeholders appraised on the complications and sensitivities, and of course, the achievements as they come – weekly communication in my view with the use of visible colour coded charts and a big favourite of mine the RAG chart ( Red Amber Green; charts on all workstreams) as most often project success is when the executives are in knowledgeable control and there are no sudden curve balls thrown in their direction.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Dual paths of the CIO Role

Dual paths of the CIO Role

Why do we spend so much time scrutinising the role of the CIO?

Much of the reason is probably as a result of the pace of technology change

With every major computing paradigm that comes along driven by vendor marketing departments, CEOs tend to worry when their competitors do well at quarterly fiscal announcements that they are leveraging technology better, potentially asking:-

“We must not have the right kind of CIO!”
“We have an operations person, but we need an innovator!” or
“We have a visionary but our operations are inefficient!” or
“Our CIO is not technical enough!” or “Our CIO is too technical!”

Having recently read a report provided by CA Technologies on the ‘Changing Role of IT’ it is bound to raise even more questions about the role of the life of the CIO role.

According to this research, more than 70% of CIOs are reporting to CEOs, which signals a rise in the strategic significance of IT; however a mere 14% of CIOs see their role as a driver of new business initiatives. Also from the research, many CIOs have finally been able to strike a 50-50 balance between spending on new products versus spending on maintenance; but despite this success in IT investment management, CIOs are giving away their budget: More than 35% of IT spending is occurring outside of the IT department, or what is commonly called ‘Shadow IT’.

With technology now becoming as ubiquitous to a company’s operations as the finance function, we may have to be realistic to the notion of saying farewell to one centralised technology leader in the business. Realistically technology strategy, spending decisions, and resources will extend out of IT into other business functions or external third parties due to demanding digital agendas in order to serve all of a company’s technology needs.

According to the report the CIO role is evolving along two interesting parallel paths:

The Chief Innovation Officer:

One group of CIOs will travel on the innovation path. These CIOs will leave IT operations to someone else as they focus on the convergence between engineering, R&D, and software development. They will build organisations populated by entrepreneurial types who look toward data, software, and even business processes for new revenue ideas. They will meet with external customers, forge partnerships with universities, launch innovation labs, acquire technology services, and lead the charge in getting their business’s executives to focus on the future. These CIOs can create a vision of future products, business models, and customer engagement channels, and they have the credibility to inspire their colleagues to believe them and to follow.

The Chief Shared Services Officer:

CIOs that have spent their careers running air-tight operations might just not have the gene for business model innovation. Or maybe they have the gene, but their CEOs do not see them as innovators. All is not lost for this breed of CIO however. Having spent their careers managing large operations that deliver a complex array of IT services to tough customers, these CIOs will outsource more and more of IT and free themselves up to manage other key business services. Just because IT operations are being commoditised does not mean that “operational CIOs” should be commoditised, as well. If they play their cards right, CIOs who excel at running IT as a support function, will expand their roles into other shared functions, like legal, procurement, and HR.

This CIO might even wind up in the new Chief Business Process Officer role beginning to emerge in the executive suite corridors. These CIOs will hand innovation over to those business executives who are clamouring for a piece of the IT budget. But rather than be relegated to an IT services babysitter, these CIOs will take their considerable expertise with business process change, continuous improvement, project management, and vendor management and bring a new era of leadership to their companies. These CIOs will run IT organisations that are largely outsourced; they will populate their organisations with people who have expertise in vendor management and a wide array of business processes while maintaining corporate process standards and SLA’s.

“Technology certainly is turning the whole businesses upside down, as CEOs everywhere struggle to find the best way to manage and leverage IT.” commented Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London based CCserve consulting. “This is why so many industry experts are talking about the CEO having the CIO at the boardroom table, as IT done ‘right’ will be critical for Digital proliferation and business market growth.”

It makes sense that as technology increases its impact on businesses, the role of the technology leader will evolve. The key for every CIO today is know which path plays to your strengths, and get a grip with the evolution and be the new technology leader of the 2020’s.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

IT role in Corporate Acquisitions

IT role in Corporate Acquisitions

IT role in Acquire, or Not-to-Acquire

The changing landscape of the IT Technology arena within corporate Merger or Carve-out

To acquire, or Not-to-acquire – The question most CEOs ask their CFO is:- Will the transaction drive financial rewards and what are the risks, but really the glaring missing player here is the CIO!

Ask yourself, How many CFOs have you come across that have a full and clear understanding of the value an ‘Open and connectable’ versus ‘out-dated and proprietary’ IT department can make in driving business revenue growth.

This means that Board Executives are negotiating in the dark and potentially loosing large percentages of cost of sale value. There couldn’t be a better time for the CEO to bring the CIO to the table.

Businesses today are under more pressure than ever to deliver value to stakeholders, particularly when undertaking bold initiatives such as mergers, acquisitions or asset disposals. This is true not only for corporate acquirers but also for private equity (PE) or Venture Capital (VC) firms, whose strategy is leaning toward add on acquisitions as a means of growing their portfolio companies.

Under the current economic conditions and the rising cost of debt, corporate business management teams will require additional focus on effort in order to restructure or streamline operations, and specifically the IT departments of acquired businesses to deliver success in the absence of financial engineering. For a while now Information Technology (IT) is fast becoming a key lever which management can use to deliver operational benefits — whether in reducing operational costs, entering emerging markets or scaling their business across multiple geographic regions. With the advances in technology and its impact on today’s business models, companies are increasingly pushing the boundaries to remain competitive. IT is one key area to do this — Technology should be looked at as a business enabler and not look at as so many boards still do today, as a cost to do business.

“The sooner that executive boards put the CIO or the IT department on their monthly agenda as a regular discussion point the better,” says Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London based CCServe consulting. In my humble experience and far too often I see the CIO struggling to get the ear of the CEO or even agendas on the board table; businesses need to view IT as a business enabler rather than viewed purely as a cost centre.”

Part of the reason the CIO is not at the board table is that often they do not speak the language of the business board executive. Technology scares most senior board members and until the Generation Y and Generation X group get into those senior positions we will continue to see a disparity with Technology and Fiscal business matters.

The CIO challenge is to do his/her bit too, they really need to fully engage with the commercial business functions, and stop hiding behind technology to protect themselves. The ‘head-in-the-sand’ CIO will have a rapidly growing threat from the likes of the CMO or emerging CDO Digital Officer. Understanding the business functions that deliver revenue is a key focus going forward.

With the fluid market of M&A today there are two clear distinct areas a corporate or global business can go with this. One; is to look at how costly it will be to split companies up or carve out elements that are no longer key areas of business growth for that organisation and IT efficiency should be at the forefront, not just fiscal separation.

The other area on the acquiring side of an M&A transaction – Many CEO/CFOs look at the cost of acquisition proposed by the big 5 consultancy houses, often building in huge elements of ‘cost of sale’ to mitigate IT integration risk especially where transaction teams are uncertain.

“Making ones own IT and infrastructure easy to connect with while utilising open standards or cloud services could help the process of bringing together two disparate lines of business,” Craig Ashmole goes on to say, “More importantly M&A is about the shortest time to ‘joined-up’ business revenue growth which gets the attention of the CEO. Well prepared IT and infrastructure are key success elements to that joined-up process.”

There is a large growth of non-accounting technology focused personnel being hired into the Big-5 consulting transaction teams as more emphasis is given to IT & Technology within the merger/carve-out transaction process. This however should be a balanced process, in my opinion, with ones own CIO office within the organisation. What an IT department or CIO office may lack however is in the broader wider exposure that seasoned interim independent consultants might bring to the negotiations. Independent interim IT consultants have often engaged in similar situations or have awareness skills from engaging in many other organisations as they move from assignment to assignment.

Whatever the CEO or board choose to do as they grow through acquisition, or transform through business carve-out, they have to put the IT agenda firmly on the boardroom table and should seriously consider taking advantage of the experience and quick turn-round support that so many senior and interim consultants have to offer, to support their own CIOs.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe