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Two days of revelation: a world of innovation

Cloud transforms the CIO's role

By Jacob Nthoiwa, ITWeb journalist

[Johannesburg, 4 Feb 2011] -
CIOs are strategic leaders, focused on bringing IT capabilities to bear on critical business challenges; they are no longer mere managers of the data centre; their role is changing rapidly in the cloud era.

These were the words by the EMEA CTO and senior vice-president at CA Technologies, Bjarne Rasmussen, when delivering a keynote address at the CA Southern Africa IT Management Symposium.

In his opinion, the advent of cloud computing has the potential to accelerate the transformation of the CIO's role. “In the cloud era, every CIO will have to rethink their business model to deliver their organisation's business goal and gain competitive advantage,” he said.

Previously, the role of the CIO was to reduce infrastructure costs, consolidate and virtualise resources, as well as to ensure business process management, Rasmussen pointed out.

“This is no longer the case, as they are supposed to drive the business transformation, lead the IT and business convergence as well as become technical strategic thinkers,” he said.

Today's CIO

“Today”, Rasmussen told the conference, “The CIO's job is to ensure that the organisation derives competitive advantage by continuously optimising an IT supply chain across internal and external resources.

“A supply chain is a system of organisations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.”

He explained that supply chain activities transform raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer.

He also pointed to the idea that the new role of the CIO will be to strategically manage an IT supply chain, pulling in resources as needed – everything from complete applications to massive amounts of cloud-based processing capacity and data storage and focus on the end-result: the business service.

According to Rasmussen, the paradigm shift in IT management that cloud computing brings is that IT departments must now rely on the IT community in new ways.

“There are just too many options out there for any one group to have all the right experience and the ability to keep it current so that the right choices can be made,” he said.

Business enabler

Business sees IT as the enabler for growth and the CIOs must focus on this to stay relevant for the business and at the moment attention is focused on how cloud computing can reduce IT costs and help companies meet pressing computing needs, Rasmussen told the conference.

Rasmussen's remarks are in line with what the analysts predicted for 2011. They said CIOs will continue evolving beyond an operational focus, spending more time transforming business processes and setting strategy.

It was also predicted that this year cloud computing will move from an over-hyped theory to an adopted practice in mainstream business. Private, public or hybrid clouds, when applied to the right business need, will be game-changing in some industries.

According to Rasmussen, one of the challenges is that non-IT business users are out ahead of enterprise IT.

“These users are completely comfortable with IT, having grown up 'networked' in many cases – indeed many comment that they have better IT systems at home than in the office. The buffer between technology and the business user that IT filled is no longer required.”

He told the symposium that these users also feel empowered to make their own technology decisions.

“Right from their desktops, they can find and implement a huge array of IT services via the cloud; and they don't hesitate to take advantage of them. IT tries to 'stamp out' this behaviour, but that's a losing strategy.”


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CA Southern Africa is the sole representative of CA Technologies in sub-Saharan Africa and is a member of the EOH group of companies.
CA Southern Africa utilises international innovation augmented by locally based exceptional expertise, in the delivery of turnkey solutions that simplify IT and unify complex computing environments.


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