CIO priorities 2012: Richard Hall, business advisor

As an advisor to a company that specialises in restructuring and turning struggling businesses around, Richard Hall gets to see a of a lot of IT departments. He is an expert in helping businesses make their IT operations more cost-effective.

As an advisor to a company that specialises in restructuring and turning struggling businesses around, Richard Hall gets to see a of a lot of IT departments.

Hall, CEO of consultant CloudOrigin and advisor to professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, is an expert in helping businesses make their IT operations more cost-effective.

The real cost of IT

Hall said it is surprising just how few IT departments have a real idea how much they actually spend on IT.

"Sadly, we have to spend a lot of time just to get a picture of what the IT cost is to begin with," he said in an interview to accompany the 2012 Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT priorities survey

When the costs of power, energy, security and real estate are factored in, IT can cost businesses more than they think.

Of course, in the current economic climate, we are typically looking for ways to grow and expand offerings and geographies without increasing fixed cost.

Reducing costs with cloud 

Cloud computing, particularly software-as-a-service (SaaS), is the best strategy to reduce IT costs, according to Hall.

Typically, most enterprises are looking at infrastructure-as-a-service blended with the existing IT as a hybrid. But ideally, we are looking to large-scale shifts to software-as-a-service. 

The availability of higher-speed internet access has made it easier for multinationals to roll out new cloud services, such as managed print services, he said.

We can try out new solutions and go to market with them without having datacentres in the cloud. That is a big plus, said Hall.

On a bigger scale, Hall is an advocate of business process outsourcing (BPO), which involves transferring not only the IT, but complete business processes, such as human resources or invoicing, to a third party.

Tablet PCs will take off 

Windows 8 will attract huge interest this year, particularly from businesses that are looking to invest in mobile computing, Hall predicts.

A lot of people are looking at the strategy of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and hence to offset the cost to the employee. That is extremely attractive to employees and employers, he said. 

Windows 8 is going to be the big push in terms of deployment, refresh and form factor, particularly Windows tablets. A whole platform of different mobile devices and the technologies to manage those devices are going to be key.

CIO role will disappear 

But, ultimately, as more IT functions are outsourced, the CIO role and the IT department is likely to disappear, he said.

Increasingly, the CIO and COO roles will merge. Many good CIOs I know have become COOs. And I am not sure that in 10 years time there will be many independent CIOs, or indeed an IT department that we would recognise, in large corporations, he said.

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