Sage Africa Newsroom

CIOs: it’s time to be less engineering and more pioneering

13 June 2017

CIOs are struggling to come to grips with a world changing at an exceptional pace – this was the picture that was painted at the recent IDC CIO Summit 2017 series that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria.

Customers now expect much more – better, faster and more personalised service – and businesses need to use the information and insights provided by new technology to provide this, or risk falling behind.

IDC predicts that financial services will continue to lead the adoption of mobility solutions mainly due to the inherent benefits and cost savings from the reduction in branch footprint and improving customer experience.

CIOs must lead this change to transform their organisations, but as the Summit’s key speakers revealed, they face many challenges.

Challenge 1: The talent problem

The speed at which technology is evolving means that the skills required to stay ahead are constantly changing, and CIOs are struggling to find the right people to join their teams. “We speak to CIOs across the world about digital transformation, and their top challenge is always finding the right talent to keep up,” said Joseph Pucciarelli, IDC’s Group Vice President and IT Executive Advisor.

Research has revealed that 49% of organisations are actively seeking millennials. Some of the most challenging roles to fill are: Data scientist, IoT Engineer, Information Security, Change Manager and Business Analyst.

Challenge 2: Keeping data tidy

The Internet of Things will mean CIOs can benefit from access to new and large amounts of data, Pucciarelli said. By 2025, there will 30-billion IoT connections and 160 zetabytes of data in the world. At the same, CIOs are inhibited by a shortage of skills, data siloes and legacy systems.

But many CIOs are still struggling to make sense of the data they already have.

Challenge 3: Rate of change is accelerating

Mike Rosen, VP Global Research, IT Executive Programme at IDC also added that by 2020 the cloud will allow for better coordination and result in 100billion in savings. He added “The rate of change is accelerating dramatically. Companies not only have to be digital transformers to survive, but they must do it while improving adaptability. The most important attribute of long term viability will the ability to change…quickly.”

Rosen also noted that survival of the fittest is not size or strength, but the ability to change.

Challenge 4: Avoid more siloes

One of the risks of encouraging constant innovation across the business is creating a forest of new technology siloes that don’t work together, says Pucciarelli. CIOs can avoid this by building a scalable, modular, reusable, plug-and-play portfolio of architectural components, including platforms, processes, governance and talent. CIOs need to understand how technology is already being used in people’s daily activities.

Challenge 5: No time to innovate

Another key insight revealed was that CIOs are struggling to find the time to innovate – with IT departments worldwide spending less than 15% of their time on innovation, according to Jonathan Tullett, IT Services Research Manager at IDC.

“It’s hard to get legacy leaders to focus on ideation and new ideas when they’re so focused on maintaining the basics,” said Engen CIO, Peter du Plooy. This puts smaller companies, that don’t have a big legacy, at a huge advantage.

“Constant experimentation is usually associated with start-ups and small companies but it’s a philosophy we all need to embrace now – and its finally possible thanks to new cloud technologies that don’t require huge investments,” said Keith Fenner, VP: Sage Enterprise Africa & Middle East. “Thankfully, optimisation and automation of IT processes can help larger companies reclaim some of the time they spend keeping the lights on for innovation”.

CIOs should seize SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies as an opportunity to create new revenue streams, increase productivity and transform their business models.

Industry 4.0 technologies, for example offer the ability to personalise customers’ needs into the production process in real-time, to integrate supply and distributor chains, making it easier to improve quality and reduce fulfilment times. CIOs today should be less engineering and more pioneering to ride this wave of innovation, said Fenner.

*Sage is a sponsor at the IDC CIO Summit series. Johannesburg is currently underway, Lagos will take place on 18 May, Nairobi, 16 June and Mauritius, 16 August.