Content thumbnail Born to be Digital

“ I spend little time on back office and a lot on what you could categorize as digital.” Herman de Prins, CIO, UCB Swanepoel has sometimes engaged external management Digital-ready CIOs move beyond consultants to help bring a fresh perspective on what the core of operations and infrastructure. the narrative ought to be: “If you are working in IT all day, you’ve 5 got to concentrate on lifting the conversation to a level at which the board can be comfortable. But sometimes the story is just too complicated, and you need some external help to tell it in a Something common among many of the CIOs interviewed for this compelling fashion. That was definitely an inflection point for me.” report is a desire to prevent their roles from being taken over by the An important factor that can further put weight on CIOs’ operations and infrastructure elements. As Sanofi CIO Bruno communication skills is their relative position within the business. Ménard points out, it is a question of CIOs deciding where they This is extremely vital for those CIOs who don’t hold board-level really want to invest their time. “If you want to run the operations positions. With a seat at the top table, you have greater authority to yourself, that is a huge management demand, so it will affect your push through changes directly. But others must rely more on their abilities on strategy and innovation. You cannot do both,” he powers of persuasion, which makes a closer link to the CEO or other explains. key executive stakeholders more vital. At the French-Japanese car This isn’t to suggest that leading CIOs think that operations and alliance Renault-Nissan, Managing Director IT/IS Celso Guiotoko infrastructure are not important, but rather that they see these as makes use of his strong relationship with the CEO, and of more foundational elements that should be run as efficiently as possible, informal approaches, to garner the necessary influence. “The fact to free up their time for the more strategic aspects of their role. that we have the corporate executive cafeteria is very useful for “The first thing for digital CIOs is to move spending away from ‘keep me, because I can sit with some of the corporate officers and talk the lights on’ kind of operational stuff that doesn’t make their about any issues and opportunities, or about how they can get companies any money or serve their customers any better,” argues more value from IT,” he says. “In addition, I have a very good InformationWeek’s Rob Preston. “Those who focus solely on this are communication line to the CEO: we meet on a monthly basis.” just chief infrastructure officers, and that’s not a good long term At the same time, digital-ready CIOs are using media channels to career prospect.” drive influence. You can talk up the potential of IT and to help foster A lot of CIOs agree, noting that many of the traditional IT leaders momentum internally. “That is one of the reasons why we go public they meet at conferences appear to be no more than infrastructure on certain things, so that the media can come back and ask where managers. “They typically don’t come close to having board-level we’ve gotten to on this. It puts a bit more pressure on us to get discussions, and usually lie several layers away from the CEO,” things done,” says Guiotoko. The use of social media can also help notes Zooplus CIO Richard Alan Herz. Nedbank’s Fred Swanepoel to build a greater presence both internally and externally, and to adds: “In our business, sorting out the operational and efficiency make the CIO more approachable. For example, UCB’s Herman de side is just the foundation for reliably delivering excellent client Prins, who prefers to keep work-related topics out of social media, service. We build on that foundation by focusing on innovation to uses his passion for cycling as a source for non-work-related drive sales, deliver product breakthroughs, and fine-tune pricing updates and links them to technology, which in turn has helped him models to influence changes in client behavior.” to forge a range of positive connections across the business. 26 | Born to be digital

Born to be Digital - Page 31 Born to be Digital Page 30 Page 32