Massachusets Institute of Technology professors discuss the ‘impossible’ role of the CIO

Top academic researchers Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross will lead the interactive workshop as part of the The 2014 International Conference on Information Systems next month in Auckland.

Two of the world’s top academic researchers on information and communications technology leadership – Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross of the Massachussets Instititute of Technology – will run an interactive workshop on the ‘impossible’ role of the CIO next month in Auckland.

The panel discussion on December 12 is part of The 2014 International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) that will be held for the first time in New Zealand, on December 14 to 17.

ICIS is the major annual meeting of the Association for Information Systems (AIS), which has over 4000 members representing universities in over 95 countries worldwide.

It is the most prestigious gathering of academics and practitioners in the IS discipline, and provides a forum for networking and sharing of latest ideas and highest calibre scientific work amongst the IS profession, says Dr Mike Myers, head of the Department of Information Systems and Operations Management at the University of Auckland.

Myers says more than 1200 academics from across the globe will be attending the conference which includes about 60 sessions and 180 presentations, in addition to keynotes, CIO panels and research panels.

The theme of ICIS 2014 is Building a Better World through Information Systems and will be hosted by The University of Auckland Business School.

More than 1200 academics from across the globe will be attending the conference which includes about 60 sessions and 180 presentations, in addition to keynotes, CIO panels and research panels.

Dr Mike Myers, University of Auckland

New Zealand CIOs are invited to register to attend the CIO panel discussions, says Cecil Eng Huang Chua, associate professor of information systems and operations management at the University of Auckland.

Chua, who is one of the chairpersons for the IT workshop and CIO panels, talks about the theme for the for the half-day CIO workshop on December 12 that will be held at the Westpac on Takutai Square in Britomart.

“When you are a CIO, you are largely torn between a number of different duties and all those duties end up taking up your time, energy and focus,” he states.“It is about managing all of that tension.”

Part of it is keeping the lights on, he says, but the CIO also has to provide strategic value to the business. “As we are pushing into this particular area of our strategy, these are technologies we need to look at, these are the ways we can use our technology to move forward, this is how we want to do.

“The infrastructure we have today is not the one we will deal with tomorrow.”

A classic example, he says, is moving to the cloud.

You have a huge amount of physical infrastructure, costing us in terms of depreciation or maintenance, he states. “Do we actually move to the cloud? If move to the cloud, there are obviously security implications. It is not just a question of being reliable from the perspective of electricity, it is from the perspective of the legal dimension.”

The infrastructure we have today is not the one we will deal with tomorrow.

Cecil Eng Huang Chua, University of Auckland

CIOs, he state, also have to take gambles, make the tradeoffs between depreciating the existing technology versus looking at the technology of the future.

How they will manage these ‘tensions’ of the role will be tackled in the workshop.

At the CIO workshop, Jeanne Ross will talk about the “the value proposition of the IT Unit.”

In recent years, IT units have been working to ensure world class Run and Build services. As external partners take on more responsibility for IT services, world class Run and Build services become table stakes. And as companies become more digitiSed, many capabilities (e.g. analytics, digital product creation, mobile apps) are moving out of the IT unit into other groups.

Ross will start the session by asking the participants to rate how good they are on the four key capabilities of an IT unit: Commit, Run, Build and Exploit. Then, she will explore how top performing companies such as USAA, 7-Eleven Japan, TetraPak and Campbell’s successfully move their IT unit's value propositions from run and build to commit and exploit.

Peter Weill will talk about the “The Next Generation Enterprise: Increased Customer Intimacy and Digital Ecosystems”.

With digitisation rapidly transforming business, the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) is trying to understand what the next generation business will look like in five years. A review of 105 breakthrough initiatives in large organisations identified two dimensions of major change enabled by digitisation: getting closer to end consumers and moving from value chains to ecosystems.

The session will begin with a quick self-assessment of the threat to the business model from digitisation. Then Weill will describe examples of breakthrough initiatives (e.g. CBA, Christus Health and Orange Money), share the framework and the financial performance of firms pursuing each strategy and facilitate a discussion on how companies are moving to the next generation enterprise.

Cecil Eng Huang Chua, associate professor of information systems and operations management at the University of Auckland, talks about the challenges of the CIO role. The topic will be included in a CIO panel discussion on December 12 at the 2014 International Conference on Information Systems to be held in Auckland, New Zealand from December 14-17, 2014.

Beyond the academe

Chua meanwhile, explains the choice for the theme of the conference: “As academics, it is our job to help make the world a better place, and we are providing an opportunity for the CIOs of New Zealand to help understand what we do so we can together make the world a better place.”

“It is that if you are not providing that value to the organisation, to the world, to anyone, then there is no point in having the hardware,” he states.

“There is also increasing awareness within our field that it is not just organisational benefit,” but also other issues. One of these, for instance, is green IT.

“Let us not end up creating the technology that is polluting the world, let us talk about the technology for ecological benefit.”

He says there is also a number of people looking at IS for less developed countries. “There are problems related to getting reliable power, reliable infrastructure and providing the education.”

Computer science and information systems are not just building the technology, he states. “It is using the technology and applying it in an organisational context.”

“Within information systems, we are talking about it is not just building the technology but using the technology and applying it in an organisational context.

“It is not just, here is the database. It is, how we employ the database so that we can get actual business value out of it.”

These are issues that can be explored from the academic perspective, he states.

CIO panel discussions

On December 15, there will be five CIO panel discussions hosted by academic experts and New Zealand CIOs. These will be held at the Next Generation Health and Racquet Club at 1 Tennis Lane in Auckland.

IT Governance IT Governance is an enigma in our industry. In some places, IT governance is one of those “behind the scenes” activities that often go unnoticed and is grudgingly managed as just a necessary administration task - until something goes wrong. In others, IT governance is strategically prominent and part of the culture. A company’s IT governance body sets and oversees IT investment strategy and performance, manages IT-related risks and opportunities, and monitors IT’s strategic alignment with the business. IT governance also encompasses compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. It includes policies and procedures for enterprise data management, security, and staffing. It has become an increasingly important component of corporate governance as Directors of the Board become increasingly IT savvy and look for improved results and business transformations through the leverage of new technologies. Yet it is exceedingly hard to get right, as it is often set at the wrong level within the organisation so that decisions are not always followed, or staff circumvents the process. Just what is “good” IT governance? How does an effective IT governance body operate? How does it affect the evaluation of new IT capabilities such as big data, BYOD and cloud computing? How do IT and corporate governance interplay? The panel will answer these questions in light of the challenges IT governance faces in today’s global economy.

This panel will be led by Jane Fedorowicz, Chester B. Slade Professor of Accounting and Information Systems, Bentley University. She will be joined by Russell Ambrose, Group Manager Information Technology, Vector; Thomas Hyde, Group Director, Beca; and Colin Smith, CIO, Fisher & Paykel Finance.

Panel 2: Outsourcing Dilemmas: Problems and Prospects

Handing over services to external management has a very mixed record, but over 25 years research and practice has provided hard won lessons. The session spells out the major dilemmas that confront those planning and undertaking outsourcing, including what degree of outsourcing, how many suppliers, what not to outsource, how to deal with the rise of cloud computing, the limits of various models, what can be achieved, and what practices emerge as the most successful. The head of the panel will provide a 20 minute summary of the findings of the last 25 years research by IS scholars, and the new findings from a forthcoming book Nine Keys To World Class BPO' (with Mary Lacity).

The panel will be led by Leslie Willcocks, Professor in Technology Work and Globalization and Director of the Outsourcing Unit, London School of Economics. Willcocks will be joined by Kevin Angland, CIO, IAG; Kevin Drinkwater, CIO, Mainfreight; and David Havercroft, COO, Spark.

Panel 3: Program Management

Information system development, implementation of vendor systems, infrastructure deployments, and most organisational efforts in information technology employ project management activities to attain completion. However, in its pure form, project management focused on a limited set of considerations, is driven to complete individual projects and tends to overlook the achievement of organisational benefits for the broad spectrum of information technology initiatives.

Over the years, most organisations have responded to this by moving to a more comprehensive perspective on the management of projects, more commonly called programs and program management. This migration creates a number of issues in governance and management that have been addressed through newer practices, greater awareness, and a general evolution in the thinking of project management. The process of evolution itself, the resulting changes to the structure of organisations or departments, and the impact this has had in managing the development and deployment of information technologies are potential issues to be raised.

This panel will be led by Gary Klein, Couger Professor of Information Systems, University of Colorado. The local panellists will be Bradley Raby, IS Solution Delivery Manager, Auckland Council; Steve Matheson, Group COO, Datacom and Simon Kennedy, Group Chief Information Officer, The Warehouse Group.

Panel 4: Academic/Practitioner Cooperation

More often than not, “academic/practitioner cooperation” is one of those things that is endorsed in principle but hard to realise in practice. Each side believes that there is significant value in such cooperation, but it takes understanding and commitment to achieve a win-win result for both sides. University faculties believe that practitioners are driven by short-term, profit motives and that they are impatient with the pace of university research. Practitioners feel that universities often lack a concern for real-world problems and are ill prepared to convert their research into market-viable products. This panel will attempt to close this gap and hear from both academics and practitioners how they have worked together to achieve the aforementioned win-win situation. We will explore what works and what doesn’t work, what obstacles are encountered and how they have been overcome, and some examples of successful collaborations.

This panel will be led by Ephraim McLean, Regents' Professor, the G.E. Smith Eminent Scholar's Chair in Information Systems, and the Director of the Center for Health IT at Georgia State University. He will be joined by Arron Judson, ICT Sector Innovation Manager, University of Auckland and Candace Kinsler, former NZTech CEO and Chris Somogyi, General Manager Accelerator Services, Callaghan Innovations.


Panel 5: Change Management

The CIO is often relegated to plumbing functions and keeping the lights on. CIOs are seldom in a position to take an active role in change management or change leadership in the crucial transition in many organisations towards becoming digital organisations. The panel will discuss the challenges in change management based on some concrete examples, and we shall discuss how the CIO might take a more active role in change leadership.

The panel will be led by Niels Bjorn-Andersen, Professor of Information Systems, Copenhagen Business School. He will be joined by Jonathan Iles,CIO,Carter Holt Harvey; Vanessa Pye, consultant, Culture Change by Design; and Myles Ward, Chief Technology Officer, IRD.

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