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Bank of England doesn't need a Chief Digital Officer, claims CIO

Derek du Preez | Nov. 14, 2013
John Finch believes that all senior execs in the organisation need to be technology savvy

"One of the things that the BoE does is it runs the banks intra-day payment clearing - when bank A pays bank B, it comes through the BoE to be cleared. It's part of the critical infrastructure for the whole of Europe. We are going to do no experimentation at all on that system - in the two-speed world we are going to manage it in a very conservative way, in a secure way, with a very controlled release schedule."

He added: "But you can imagine a situation where we are going to innovate with this social digital enterprise. You might get in a tool, get in a bit of data in a sandbox, see if it's going to work, send it to someone's handset, and if it doesn't work try a different technology. You can have this two-speed world."

Challenges for SMEs
Finally, Computerworld UK asked Finch where he expects to find the skills and resources to experiment with new digital technologies. He said that he doesn't believe, in most cases, that the traditional IT suppliers are agile enough to deliver the desired services effectively and that the BoE will aim to work with SMEs to achieve these.

However, Finch also warned that there is a significant procurement challenge in allowing SMEs to work with an organisation like the BoE.

"I don't think we have yet worked out how to square the circle on this. In my world there is quite a lot of quite correct legislation that makes us go down value-for-money purchasing decisions. In fact when you think about business moments in the digital world, by the time we have gone through the purchasing phase, the business moment could be over. I think there are some real challenges now for CIOs," he said.

"I firmly believe these bigger organisations [vendors] aren't able to innovate at the speed that we need to in most cases. But these smaller firms can come with a whole set of new opportunities."

He added: "But you put them through our purchasing process - where you are asking companies to guarantee that they have got a certain supply chain, that they can guarantee that they will be trading in ten years etc. I don't think CIOs in all cases have conquered that challenge, because we have to go in front of boards and say why we are changing a contract from a famous brand to people you have never heard of. They immediately get into a risk conversation."


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