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Technology chiefs need to act like CEOs

KPMG Australia CIO Craig Wishart says his counterparts need to start running IT like a business service and that the days of doing large SAP implementations are over

CIOs should act more like CEOs by avoiding technology jargon in their communications and setting clear business goals because they are being held to a much higher standard set by industry disrupters such as Netflix, Google and Amazon.

So says KPMG Australia CIO Craig Wishart, who was speaking at the CIO Edge conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Sydney, Australia, this week.

Wishart is a proponent of the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council for running IT as a business service, rather than a disparate bucket of software, networking, compute and programming assets.

TBM Council has become something of a CIO movement, with members in the non-profit organisation growing from five to over 3,500 in the past five years.

Wishart said there is a new standard out there for CIOs when it comes to how well they deliver business services.

Often, organisations are comparing the modern CIO to how well he or she stacks up against the so-called “Fang” companies – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google – as well as the likes of Uber, Apple and other successful disrupters.

“People are no longer comparing us to competitors,” said Wishart. “We are being compared to how fast the process was in the App Store, or why I can’t measure progress like I would on an Uber map when I order something.

“The comparisons we are now being asked to subscribe to are real-life experiences. The Fang effect is driving the way people think.”

Be more like a CEO

To get their operations up to 21st century standards, CIOs need to begin managing much more like CEOs.

“How well do you really know your business? How well do you really know your numbers? Because it’s becoming increasingly important. There’s going to be huge shifts in the way we operate our businesses,” said Wishart.

With a plethora of hard-driving, technical innovators coming into view, CIOs must carry some risk and place short-term bets on who and what technologies will serve their businesses now.

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“The bets are becoming harder and harder to place. The days of doing massive SAP implementations are gone,” he said.

Wishart also spent some time mocking tech management speak: “Why do we use such convoluted language? Why is it becoming more confusing and far more difficult than it needs to be?”

When it comes to clarity of language and setting clear business technology goals, a well-executed TBM regime helps bring simplicity that all sides of a business can respect.

“Outcomes trump theory; it’s not about being the smartest in the room. Let the TBM framework set the processes and set the way you think. It helps create a common language that normalises tech speak,” said Wishart, noting that TBM could lead CIOs out the pitfall of running a traditional “IT shop”.

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