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Highlights and insights from the 2013 CIO Summit

This year’s CIO Summit was once again packed full of valuable insights from international speakers and practical lessons from local IT professionals.

It’s easy to get information overload at these events, so I jotted down a few thoughts and highlights from the event, which I’d like to share with you.


The Third Platform

Opening the summit was Crawford Del Prete, IDC’s US-based Executive Vice President of Worldwide Research Products & Chief Research Officer.

Crawford revisited an idea IDC and other analyst firms have been talking a fair bit about over the past year – the so-called Third Platform made up from the combination of cloud, big data, mobile and social media.

While it was interesting talk, it seems the discussion about this Third Platform and the confluence of these four factors hasn’t advanced much in the past year, which to me begs the question: What will the ‘Fourth Platform’ be?

My belief is it could be Artificial Intelligence, and that it could help make online and cloud-based tools more responsive to people’s needs.

As technology becomes ‘smarter’ and requires less human intervention to analyse and interpret big data from online and social interactions and behaviours, we could see more responsive applications that adjust automatically to the needs of users.

Crawford also got me thinking how you measure ROI on social media investment. He offered potential new ways of thinking about social media, explaining social media activity is moving from mere transactions to facilitating decisions and to building relationships.

I certainly think the best value most businesses can get from social media is using it to develop better relationships with their customers and industry.

A final worthwhile point from Crawford was his advice for IT teams that best practice is for them to work with the business units to prioritise projects rather than working in isolation.


The new role of the CIO?

Paul Strong, VMware’s Chief Technology Officer – Global Field, meanwhile posed one of the most relevant questions at the event, asking: “What does CIO mean today? Chief Infrastructure/Information/Innovation Officer?”

It certainly seems to becoming a combination of all three.

Strong suggests we’ve returned to the client-server model where applications are just cached instead of being permanently installed on the local device, which in my mind is how most cloud tools like Psoda work anyway.

He believes in the future we’ll see software defined data centres on top of a software defined network.

Organisations will need to decide what software and applications are core to their business versus commodity applications, which he suggests should be outsourced.

This will change the role of the IT department to curator and integrator of technology, says Strong.


Project case study

But the CIO Summit wasn’t just about theories. One session in particular offered good practical project management lessons – a talk by the NZ Transport Agency’s (NZTA) CIO Craig Soutar and PMO Manager Dean Thompson on the agency’s recently completed modernisation programme.

As part of the project the team transferred over 1 billion records from a legacy system to a new system over two weekends!

The discussion covered the top three reasons why projects fail and how the NZTA project team were able to overcome these. These challenges were:

–       Issues with business ownership within the organisation

–       Changes in scope

–       Conflicting assumptions and dependencies between projects

The project has laid down the foundations for enabling customer centric change at NZTA in the future, and also caught the eye of the CIO Awards judges, with Soutar named CIO of the Year for 2013.


The innovation spectrum

Day two of the event featured Dr. Peter Wilton, Senior Lecturer of the Haas School of Business at University of California talk about constructing an innovation framework.

For Wilton, innovation starts from a vision of success. He also described an innovation spectrum with sustaining innovation or evolution at one end, and reframing innovation or revolution at the other.

But despite all the experts presenting, I was perhaps most impressed by a short demonstration by Pt England School which showed the rest of the country (and world) what a low-decile school can achieve with technology and the collaboration of their community.

Bruce Aylward

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