Tag Archives: CIO

New York’s new CIO to create centre of excellence to prevent failing IT projects

By David Bicknell

New York’s recent problems with IT projects have been well documented.

Its latest solution: appoint a new CIO, with a wide remit that includes innovation and the setting up of a ‘centre of excellence’  to nail down failing projects.

Rahul Merchant joins with a background served at US mortgage and housing specialist Fannie Mae and at financial services company Merrill Lynch.

He will become the first Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications reporting to New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg.

His role will involve overseeing New York’s information technology development and management, with a focus on delivering technology projects on-time and on-budget.

Merchant will succeed Carole Post, who recently announced she will be leaving for a position at New York Law School.

“By bringing the City’s IT infrastructure and development under one office, we can ensure we are using best practices across agencies, leveraging the City’s enormous IT infrastructure to our maximum advantage and holding contractors accountable for delivering results,” said Bloomberg. “Rahul is a seasoned executive who has proven himself time and again as a leader and an innovator in the industry.  He is going to do an outstanding job as New York City’s first Chief Information and Innovation Officer and we are excited to add him to our talented team.”

Merchant will be responsible for New York City’s IT infrastructure, as well as oversight of the implementation of key technology initiatives that enable the City’s various agencies to serve 8.4 million New Yorkers.

What will be worth watching is seeing how he tackles New York’s reputation for troubled IT projects by creating a Centre of Excellence that will  “standardise business processes for the implementation of large technology projects, institute a system of vendor evaluation to hold contractors accountable for meeting project milestones, and update the City’s technology contracts to focus on the delivery of established milestones to meet agency business needs.”

According to Bloomberg, Merchant will work closely with agency commissioners and chief information officers “to ensure that IT projects leverage existing infrastructure and software to the maximum possible extent, and that the City’s overall IT budget meets core agency business needs and the City’s overall technology objectives.”

He will also spearhead the New York’s efforts to remain a leader in technology innovation, by leveraging its  technology assets and partnerships with academic institutions, technology firms, and entrepreneurs.

He won’t be short of people to help. Merchant will lead a 1,200-strong staff responsible for managing the City’s information technology infrastructure as well as serving the information technology needs of 45 mayoral agencies, dozens of other governmental entities, and nearly 300,000 employees.

Here’s how local sites reported Merchant’s appointment:

Crain’s New York Business: Major taps Merrill Lynch vet to tame tech projects

Tech President: New York City just radically changed who manages its IT projects

Government Technology: NYC names Rahul Merchant to CIO and Innovation role

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Change division helps Bendigo Bank transform IT project outlook

By David Bicknell

A report from Australia has suggested that scrapping the chief information officer’s (CIO) role and replacing it with a change division enabled Bendigo Bank in Australia to slash its IT project failure rate.

According to an article in ITNews, establishing the change division  prompted better project delivery priorities and outcomes over the past two years, and may have  improved the rate of successful projects by 50 percent.

ITNews reported that, “In early 2010, the bank’s CIO Andrew Watts became the executive of a new ‘change’ division, which included 140 technologists, such as business analysts and project managers.

“Those technologists joined some 60 staff from elsewhere in the business, with the division aimed at overseeing business architecture and project delivery across ‘people, process and technology’.

“Other technologists formed a rebranded ‘technology services’ team, led by general manager Gary Doig and charged with managing the bank’s IT operations.”

Bendigo Bank believes that high business ownership across its projects has become  one of the most important foundations to deliver project success.

Related Links

Reuters: Banks team up to cut tech spend burden

ITNews (Australia) site

Has the CIO become the Chief Invisible Officer?

I read an article in the Wall St Journal today all about the role of chief financial officers (CFO) in increasing investments in IT to maintain a competitive edge.

The piece refers to a Colorado company, CH2M Hill, which is cutting back on expenses like corporate events and bonuses for employees, yet it plans to boost its $100 million-a-year IT budget by upto 20% this year. In part, the money will go to fund new systems that will make it easier for workers to use a variety of mobile devices on the job.

“We’re very concerned about the economy and trying to take some measures to cut costs,” says Mike Lucki, CH2M’s chief financial officer. “But this is an investment that we need to make to stay competitive. If you don’t do it, you’re not in the game.”

The thought struck me that when I read that quote that how often do you ever hear a CFO talking about getting a competitive edge? Shouldn’t that be the language of the CEO? And, aspirationally, what the CIO should be saying?

There’s nothing in this Wall St Journal piece about the role of the CIO. That’s not a criticism of the piece at all, simply  the fact that CIOs seem to be anonymous in the corporate culture.  As the article suggests, ‘CFOs are often the executives calling the shots on tech purchases. According to research firm Gartner, for instance, 44% of IT departments report to CFOs.’ The article seems to suggest that there are IT departments – but no IT leaders. (Or at least, in this case, none that the Wall St Journal deemed noteworthy enough to speak with)

Has the CIO become the Chief Invisible Officer? Perhaps, to take a line from Mike Lucki’s quote, it’s time CIOs made a strategic investment (in their visibility) to stay competitive, because, to nick another line, “If you don’t do it, you’re not in the game.”

Or has the corporate balance of power so shifted in current times that the corporate officer that pays the piper is so clearly now calling the tune?

Is it time that CIOs started to shout more from the rooftops about their value?

Heads of finance hate big-bang IT projects

CIOs and marketing leaders may be competitors for critical role in harnessing customer data

By David Bicknell

It’s a sign of the times that by  2017, according to the Gartner research group, organisations’ chief marketing officers will be spending more on IT than the CIO. It is departments such as marketing that are helping drive consumerisation within the organisation with healthy purchases of tablet computers – usually iPads – outside the remit of the IT department.

There are good reasons for that. As this article in Ad Age points out, data was once ‘the domain of tech geeks and direct-marketing gurus’, while chief marketing officers focused on loftier things like shaping brand perception.

Not now. Thanks to an explosion of data from social-media platforms, call centres, customer transactions and loyalty programs, CMOs ‘who want a seat at the table will have to harness customer data and leverage it – or risk being relegated to chief promotions officer.’

The article suggests a key alliance – or will it be a battle? – of the future will be between the CMO and the CIO to become a de-facto chief customer officer.

As Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff puts it, “The only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers. Brand, manufacturing, distribution and IT are all table stakes. The only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption, an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive … are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.”

Welcome to the Age of the Customer

G-Cloud – it’s starting to happen

By Tony Collins

Anti-cloud CIOs should “move on” says Cabinet Office official, “before they have caused too much harm to their business”.

For years Chris Chant, who’s programme director for G Cloud at the Cabinet Office, has campaigned earnestly for lower costs of government IT. Now his work is beginning to pay off.

In a blog post he says that nearly 300 suppliers have submitted offers for about 2,000 separate services, and he is “amazed” at the prices. Departments with conventionally-good rates from suppliers pay about £700-£1,000 a month per server in the IL3 environment, a standard which operates at the “restricted” security level. Average costs to departments are about £1,500-a-month per server, says Chant.

“Cloud prices are coming in 25-50% of that price depending on the capabilities needed.”  He adds:

“IT need no longer be delivered under huge contracts dominated by massive, often foreign-owned, suppliers.  Sure, some of what government does is huge, complicated and unique to government.  But much is available elsewhere, already deployed, already used by thousands of companies and that ought to be the new normal.

“Rather than wait six weeks for a server to be commissioned and ready for use, departments will wait maybe a day – and that’s if they haven’t bought from that supplier before (if they have it will be minutes).  When they’re done using the server, they’ll be done – that’s it.  No more spend, no asset write down, no cost of decommissioning.”

Chant says that some CIOs in post have yet to accept that things need to change; and “even fewer suppliers have got their heads around the magnitude of the change that is starting to unfold”.

“In the first 5 years of this century, we had a massive shift to web-enabled computing; in the next 5 the level of change will be even greater.  CIOs in government need to recognise that, plan for it and make it happen.

“Or move on before they have caused too much harm to their business.”

He adds: “Not long from now, I expect at least one CIO to adopt an entirely cloud-based model.  I expect almost all CIOs to at least try out a cloud service in part of their portfolio.

“Some CIOs across government are already tackling the cloud and figuring out how to harness it to deliver real saves – along with real IT.  Some are yet to start.

“Those that have started need to double their efforts; those that haven’t need to get out of the way.”

Cloud will cut government IT costs by 75% says Chris Chant

Chris Chant’s blog post

Katie Davis for new Health CIO?

The Cabinet Office’s Katie Davis, who takes over next month, on an interim basis, from Health CIO Christine Connelly,  is ex-Accenture.

But that shouldn’t be held against her.  Accenture left the NPfIT in 2006 with its reputation untarnished.

A profile of Davis appeared in The Telegraph in 2007. The newspaper described her as a yank at the court of King Tony, set on excellence in IT.

Though it could be assumed that Davis has a “big company” approach, and so would welcome the continued dominance of the NPfIT, she told The Telegraph she found her time at Accenture highly satisfying but after a while she stopped having fun.

“The overheads of working for a huge corporation had slightly impaired my ability to deliver. By overheads, I mean travel and the demands of process. My needs and those of the corporation did not overlap so well.”

She also said she worked in the NHS.

“I had worked with the NHS before, and was seconded to work with some of the cleverest and most committed people I’d ever been in a working environment with. It opened my eyes to the challenges and the excitement of working in the public sector.”

Davis has the advantage of having started her career as an engineer (electrical). Which makes it sound as if she’s more practical and realistic than visionary and idealistic. She may make an excellent (permanent) Health CIO.

Telegraph profile of Katie Davis.