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The only constant in IT is change and in September Lance Fisher, CIO of SThree and Winner of the CIO of the Year Award 2014, and Ade McCormack will be sharing insight into the Future of IT and what it means for IT departments.

About the event:

About the speakers:

Lance Fisher:

  • 2014 - Voted in UK top 50 CIO's by CIO Magazine
  • 2013 - European CIO of the Year 2013
  • 2012 - Finalist it BCS Computing UK CIO of the year

Ade McCormack

  • Market expert in the future of BI and the digital economy
  • Author and contributor to the FT.com, CIO.co.uk and www.businessvalueexchange.com
  • The Digital Strategist blog – www.the-digital-strategist.com

For more information please get in touch here

The Future of IT report

Senior IT practitioners from across Ireland attended Computer Futures' recent seminar The Future of IT: Views from the CIO of the year and UK Digital Strategist.

The event featured insights from Lance Fisher, CIO of SThree and Winner of the ICT European CIO of the Year Award 2013, and Ade McCormack, digital strategist, who shared insight into the future of data and what it means for IT departments both now and in the future.

This first article, based on a keynote address by Ade McCormack, looks at the emerging themes for CIOs.

12,000 yrs ago man was highly mobile and highly social. He was outcome-oriented, and work and life were very much integrated. People hunted in packs and the nature of "work" was such that it was inextricably linked to the "social" aspects of life.

This remained true until the Industrial Revolution, where man was no longer mobile and worked in a stationary environment. This meant work restricted the social nature of people. There was a new dichotomy, where work competed with "life" rather than complimenting it, giving rise to the notion of work/life balance.

The arrival of the digital economy has brought us back to the nature of people. Collaboration is linked not just to work but to the notion of all social interaction, and technology is the major facilitator of change.

What does this mean for IT departments and the role of the CIO?

Organisationally

  • IT departments are no longer command and control centres. Their focus is now about innovation, creating efficiencies and improving decision-making across organisations. In other words, their role is to enable employees to behave more like their true characters and less like factory workers from the Industrial Revolution.
  • Although operational efficiency is still a key driver for IT departments, information and technologies are leading the evolution of the department to focus on enhanced agility, providing better engagement with employees and customers, and harnessing data to provide strategic insight and direction.

Personally

  • The CIO is in itself becoming a new brand within companies. They've been on boards for some time now, but their relevance within boardroom discussions has changed significantly.
  • The focus for CIOs has moved from technology to strategy, on proving value not spending money, on becoming a transformational leader not a manager.
  • What's driving this change and has become integral to the development of the commercial CIO is the focus on Information rather than IT.

So what are the key drivers for the future CIO?

Cost & Agility

CIOs need to anticipate rather than react. To enable this they need to put data at the heart of what they do and be able to adapt to what data tells them.

Collaborative Consumption

The emergence of the sharing economy (aka peer-to-peer economy, mesh, collaborative economy or collaborative consumption), where the human and physical resources are shared. This includes creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services. Technology and information are used to empower individuals. They also help corporations to increase cost-effectiveness and efficiencies through better distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity.

Reverse Innovation

Hyper efficiencies, driven by cost-effective technologies and solutions emerging from the new middle class in places such as India and Africa are driving change across the world and no more so than in IT departments.

Creativity

Creativity, not previously thought a factor in IT, is becoming increasingly critical to the Future CIO. They increasingly have to retain creativity if they want to "stay in play". Creativity is increasingly being linked to competitiveness.

Encouraging adventure and learning to fail

Many entrepreneurs are scared of failing and that can lead to safe solutions and lack of innovation. The Future CIO needs to encourage smart failure and be willing to Fail Fast. By encouraging exploration and accepting failure, companies will learn from their mistakes and evolve.

Asymmetric Business Models

The nature of collaboration and asymmetric development is such that the few are increasingly paying for, or at least supporting, the many. Companies like Google, who use sponsorship and their PPC model to support the development of their search engine, are at the forefront of this trend but increasingly IT will look to similar models to drive organisational change and technical innovation.

Race to the Bottom

Banks typify this trend change and are using technology and automation to streamline their operations. This move towards aiming for zero margins means that banks are becoming more like IT centres.

The SThree Story:

Lance began by looking at what data the company had and what data it truly needed, including using candidate profiling, financial and sales data. It was only then that he could put business intelligence across all data to help make the group as efficient as possible and to be able to look at processes and procedures to see what worked and what needed improvement.

Putting business intelligence across all the organisation’s data enabled it to start to achieve efficiencies. By spotting, and then fixing, broken processes Lance was able to achieve more efficiency. As he says, that was ‘the obvious and the easy bit.’

For the new markets, trends and opportunities the company needed to take a different approach. This meant looking at the database containing 9 million CVs and candidate records.

As a result of this activity SThree can now:

  • Skill and job code all its CVs globally
  • Structure the data so it can be easily searched and used for insight
  • Extrapolate trends to allow the company to predict market trends.

Immediately the data showed that SThree is much more successful when it specialises in niches and markets. They can also now identify emerging trends, allowing them to continue to be ahead of the curve when it comes to evolution of the markets.

What’s more, turning documents into coded data means consultants around the world can now search the huge database for any skill and skillset. This makes recruiters faster and more accurate than anyone else, which can be crucial in a fast-paced and competitive search for the perfect candidate.

What SThree learnt from this process

  • Be cautious about collecting oceans of data for the sake of it. It is crucial to understand what will add value and then build a data strategy around that.
  • Understand how data can add value and how insight can drive change before you start collecting it. If that means structuring it and building again from the ground up then it can still be worthwhile
  • It’s critical to figure out what you want/need to know to be able to commercialise data into strategic drivers
  • And most importantly, think about how data can give you competitive advantage and be willing to adapt so that remains the case.