Fiona Balfour had taken on what many people saw as the biggest CIO challenge in the country when she accepted the role of Telstra CIO in January 2006, just as her contract as Qantas CIO was drawing to an end. In February 2007 she resigned from Telstra for professional reasons
Stories by Beverley Head
CIOs juggle tighter and tighter budgets, longer and longer to-do lists and rapid-fire technology updates that can shift the entire IT landscape overnight. They have to manage the expectations of tech savvy employees who want at work what they cobble together for themselves on the cheap at home; they have to find and retain IT staff and manage their Gen X/Y expectations while engaging intimately with the business; and they have to support 24x7 service demands
Acting as a bridge, spanning the gap between the business and IT, good business analysts are increasingly sought after by enterprises wishing to extract more value from their current and future information systems. But finding a business analyst is not easy: there are only 60 paid-up members of the Australian Business Analysis Association, and the Australian chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis claims a paid-up list of 120 members
The Coles takeover triggered an unprecedented public discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of its IT capabilities
CIO magazine's Beverly Head asked Coles CEO John Fletcher and CIO Peter Mahler about the company's IT and the controversy that arose during the takeover. Here are their answers:
In June, Coles Chief Executive John Fletcher went to bat for his CIO and the company's IT team via a letter to the editor after a comment piece appeared in The Australian Financial Review, which mooted that due diligence briefings had revealed "allegations of IT cost overruns and implementation delays which are said to be threatening the transformation of Coles' supply chain . . ." In a timely interview, Fletcher talks with CIO magazine's Beverley Head about the company's IT and his take on the controversy that arose during the takeover.
The relationship is much more sophisticated these days, throughout the corporate world. In Coles, technology requirements are defined by the business and IT working together, based on the business's strategic objectives.
By the time the board of retailing giant Coles Group recommended Wesfarmers' $21.9 billion takeover bid this week, the company had been in play for over a year. During that time its executives had to steer a steady course; maintaining shareholder value and positioning the business for future growth - setting to one side the knowledge that everything being done today could be unravelled tomorrow by a new owner.
A fifth of America's smallest not for profit outfits spend not a brass razoo on information technology. Most not for profits say they are starved of IT support. IT staff at these organizations are paid less than their peers in corporations and governments.
Seals don't balance balls on their noses for fun; they do it for fish. People don't try to achieve work/life balance for fun; they do it to survive.
Slack-jawed I watched the mother of the groom, seated on the top table, whip out her mobile phone to call a relative at the back of the function centre and chat during the festivities. Admittedly it was a big wedding with guests numbering in the hundreds, but this was a new paradigm at work.
For most CIOs the buck stops with them when it comes to delivering appropriate, robust information services for the business. But for the CIOs of subsidiaries of multinationals, many IT decisions and deals are nutted out overseas by global CIOs. Subsidiary CIOs are left to execute and operate
"Carefully." That was the one-word response from a high-profile CIO about how to chart and survive the political waters of a large enterprise. He did not want to elaborate, even anonymously.
Australia's newspapers are gorging on advertisements flogging special Vista deals. Local computer retailers want a slice of the action promised by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who at the US launch of Vista said "The installed base of PCs is about a billion. To ship a billion upgrades and new machines is not going to be one year and it's not going to be five. It's probably something in between."
Computer vendors still squire CIOs to the opera, to island conferences or fact- finding missions overseas. And, yes, the wife can come too if you'll give up the business seat for two in economy. But what are the risks of such rewards?