In your role as CIO, what was one technology challenge you faced and how did you resolve it?
One of the biggest challenges in the past two years has been simplifying legacy systems and integrating them, and ensuring data integrity between one app and the other. We took a few critical decisions like making all new developments only through agile technology. We developed a hybrid agile model to ensure that user interaction was very intensive before we implemented any change. Then we brought about a very robust change control system for these disparate systems so that when we made a change in one place it didn't hurt in another place.
Subsequently, we brought a discipline to release management: Emergency changes and planned changes were done ever quarter, instead of carrying them out every month. With these, our apps enterprise architecture has become simpler, compared to two and a half years ago. As a result, app availability has gone very close to 100 percent in the last one year. We have not had a single case of failure of our ERP packages or our major app systems.
What factors, in your opinion, have to be met for a CIO to be able to successfully perform his role?
Today, the requirements for the CIO role are very different from what they were when I became a CIO three years ago. Today, the CIO is certainly seen as a value deliverer to the business. How he delivers the value to the business, using what technology, whether legacy, transform, cloud, or mobile is not relevant. Business is getting greedier--like an individual IT consumer, who, like an adolescent, knows all the vital info in the market. There are so many options available to them. So business users are also expecting a similar kind of agility of options, low cost, and speed in enterprise IT, which is a challenge because consumer IT does not provide you the kind of security and compliance levels that an enterprise requires.
With this, even the clients' expectations are changing dramatically. Everyone wants things quickly and on a scalable and flexible model. A key area for CIOs' success is in being seen as a value deliverer to business, and not as a tech support entity. So there is a clear difference between how the business was looking at the CIO earlier and now. Therefore, the value I deliver to business has to be in the form of getting them to do whatever they are doing, only faster. The requirements now are speed, user experience, and IT simplification.
Hence, the most important expectation from CIOs is that they should continue to innovate. What worked consistently last year might not be adequate this year. The expectations of business users, employees, and clients keep changing all the time.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.