Polish-born and Australia-bred, Cathay Pacific's CIO Tomasz Smaczny has a clear sense of where IT is heading --having written papers on IT's changing relationship with the business plus over 25 years of experience in retail and finance. He talks to Computerworld Hong Kong on the CIO's path to transformation and possibly the COO role.
Computerworld Hong Kong (CWHK): So how is the CIO role changing in your view?
Tomasz Smaczny (TS): I believe strongly that the traditional "head of technology" role is dead. You see the most progressive CIOs are fast becoming "chief transformation officers" but you cannot play that function fully unless you move into the COO role in the company.
I come from the view that CIOs today are in a great position to see the whole business and understand how the company truly works. IT has a view of and a hand in every key business process and system, which gives IT a truly unique view of how the whole business architecture and operations work.
And in reality we are the only ones in the company that have such a view as the other departments and functions are much more focused on their own verticals.
CWHK: So what type of CIO do we expect to see take on this role?
TS: CIOs really are the only folks that work horizontally and vertically across the whole company operation. Over the years I've built a hypothesis that the CIO entails a fusion of responsibilities, and is driving a fusion of business, process and technology strategies. The leading CIOs in companies today realize they have this unique view of the company and are moving towards a new role where they are driving change and transformation. CIOs are far more commercially-minded than before and while they still have a clear understanding and view of technology they are much more mindful of the commercial, cost and revenue-profit side of the business.
CWHK: So how do CIOs get to this position? Do CIOs push for this to happen?
TS: CIOs are naturally not seen by the business as executives who fit into in such a role. The whole field of computer science and technology is a relatively young discipline and although we have seen great progress in technological advances we are still growing the business acumen of our IT staff. And while this varies across industries, over the years IT has become viewed in a different light within industries like finance/banking where it holds a position of greater value. Statements like "a bank is a technology company with a banking license" are used frequently to underline IT's importance in delivery of value to customers.
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