Delivering on organisational goals in a digital world that never seems to sleep is a challenge so many of us can relate to. CeBIT Australia 2017 delegates were given a rare insight into the challenges and opportunities that five brilliant CIOs across varying industries have experienced while chasing this pursuit.
Moderated by iTNews Editor-in-Chief Glenn Rees, the CIO Panel: Delivering on organisational goals explored topics such as digital disruption, how IT is driving change in business, workforce skill sets, using automation, and how each industry decides on business goals. Interestingly, despite the differing industries the challenges faced by all CIOs were intrinsically similar.
Everybody’s job is changing
Rees asked the panel about skillsets needed and it was clear that the age of ‘you’re only accountable for what your job title says you are’ is long gone. Ramsay Health Care CIO John Sutherland said versatility is a must, “It’s hard for analytical people like me to be versatile.”
The BPay Group CIO Angela Donohoe said teams are now multidisciplinary as such, job titles were being made more simple to evoke an attitude and willingness to try new things. “So far so good,” she said. “We focus on what’s best for the customer and everyone’s accountable… we've been introspective and we’re pushing our people to go out to start-up meets and conferences.”
Fairfax Media CIO Robyn Elliott said in the media industry everyone’s job is changing, at Fairfax specifically “we’re pushing our tech out into the business units and that requires a different governance - who continues to own and tidy that up?”. She said the media conglomerate was undergoing a large-scale tidy-up across its large network to systemise. The approach is backed by cross-functional teams who are focused on outcomes and empowered to make their own decisions. “We’re working faster,” she said.
Yahoo7 CIO and CTO Paul Russell said his focus was on changing processes in the organisation and keeping his team accountable by making them understand what they’re doing and why they do things. Paul further said his team are partners, not providers, and they sit within their own project teams.
He said a priority for the organisation was to be ruthless with existing products, and trying to see what life would be like without them “We’ve got a lot of benefit from that,” he said. “We’ve changed the way that team sees their job and in our industry it's hard to keep down turnover but, for the last 18-months, we’ve had less turnover.”
Strategy dictates business goals
All panelists identified strategic planning as the overarching factor that determines business goals. However, it was interesting to learn how each company approaches the subject. Johnson & Johnson Director Business Technology, Medical Devices Angela Coble said as a whole, Johnson & Johnson had a Focus 4 plan that aims to align and empower everyone toward the same direction - no matter what country, business line or department. Donohoe said at BPay there was a strong innovation agenda, and while there was a strategy, the company is working toward being more adaptable and making it ok to abandon things. “We’ve been very committed to seeing things through but now we need to pivot,” she said. She agreed it can be challenging to people in the organisation but said it was happening.
Russell said at Yahoo7 the annual strategy is broken down into top 5 goals to be delivered per quarter, all of which are data-driven. He said the impact is beneficial as it aligns teams. Elliott said FairFax had a similar process where they have a quarterly review cycle that helped to re-orient everyone. Sutherland agreed, saying for his team it was a continuous and ongoing process of reviewing goals.