The Strategic Value of the CIO
Mykolas Rambus, the Chairman of the marcus evans CIO Summit Spring 2010 shares his insight into cloud computing and the solutions to some of the challenges facing IT leaders today.
Interview with: Mykolas Rambus, Former Chief Information Officer, Forbes Media
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) role in the organization is transforming from one of running IT to that of thinking of and establishing the technological solutions to power the company forward in a competitive marketplace. However, CIO’s constantly need to prove their value to the organization and remind other executives the strategic significance of their role. Running data centers is not the greatest value that CIOs offer, says Mykolas Rambus, Former Chief Information Officer at Forbes Media, but being able to apply technology to the immediate business challenges. The Chairman of the marcus evans CIO Summit Spring 2010 taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 11-13, 2010, Rambus offers his perspective on cloud computing, cost reduction and the IT executive’s strategic value.
How is the CIO’s role in the organization changing?
Mykolas Rambus: In no time has the CIO more needed to be someone who is engaged in understanding the organization’s customers and trying to innovate and improve the products and services that the company sells. Historically the role was a steward of technology. CIOs must now be very much focused on being customer advocates and engage with executives in the C-suite to take their companies out of this global recession. All C-suite executives need to be thinking broadly about how they can contribute to the organization’s success and that is truer than ever for CIOs.
What are the most prominent challenges facing CIOs in the US at the moment?
Mykolas Rambus: The CIO’s challenges are relatively straight forward: cost reduction. There are great new ways of running the information technology units in more cost effective ways, whether that is applying cloud computing or managed services. A lot of the models for service delivery continue to evolve, so the opportunities to be aggressive about cost cutting are not rare.
One of the challenges we are facing, as in many of the organizations, is continuous insight into our business. At Forbes we are continuously making enhancements and improvements to provide as much intelligence from the data sources that we have in the organization. We think the future is rosy but as we look ahead, there are risks as well as opportunities. And of course, motivating, engaging and training our team is a perennial challenge as the battle for talent continues.
What initiatives to reduce costs and improve efficiency have you undertaken?
Mykolas Rambus: As IT executives think more about being creative, cutting costs and innovating to enhance customer experience, they should engage more with the vendor community. Vendor management is an area we are going to focus more on this year. We have found that the close strategic partnerships we developed last year really paid off in dollar terms. This will require joint innovation, between us and our vendor partners. Last year was also a great time to buy. Most people sought out ways to reduce costs, sometimes by simply asking a vendor for a cost reduction on software or hardware licenses. We made a substantial investment in our voice telecommunications infrastructure, whereby we replaced an aging system with a platform that costs us less. We were also able to outsource the management of that system in a very cost beneficial way.
What IT strategies or initiatives could transform the ICT landscape?
Mykolas Rambus: I cannot point to an initiative per se, but I could point to a strategy - IT should be focused on critical business processes and customers. Yes, we are the people who know technology best and can run data centers, but that is not our greatest value to the organization – our value is figuring out how we can apply technology to the immediate business challenges. We should employ strategies that focus more on innovating, in terms of process and customers rather than simply running IT. The strategy we are employing this year is to shed or outsource the processes that are not critical to our business, and enhance those that are.
What are your thoughts on the opportunities offered by cloud computing initiatives?
Mykolas Rambus: Cloud computing is a broad term - software as a service can also fall under this umbrella. We have several key business applications which are run in that way. Building a physical or virtual server for each new instance takes time, people and resources – clouds are a solution to creating more capacity for a platform as needed. That is another essential factor for us. There must be some overhead devoted to risk management with all systems, and using clouds reduces that to some degree.
What IT developments do you expect in the next few years?
Mykolas Rambus: We are going to start seeing CEOs and peer CXOs who were brought up with technology to an increasing degree. The understanding of technology in the C-suite will be heightened, with evermore pressure to stop dealing with the bits and bytes of technology and instead focus on applying IT to business processes and customer innovation.
I do not think there will be any major disruptive technical innovations coming through anytime soon - most of the technology will be an improved version of the same. The cloud model will be huge. In the next five years we will see a shift in the way work gets done, thus changing how we provide basic services to employees.
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About the CIO Summit Spring 2010
This unique forum will take place at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 11-13, 2010. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The summit includes presentations on harnessing the power of infrastructure as a service, practical applications of cloud computing and safeguarding company data.
For more information please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the event website.
Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.
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