Recent developments in technology are consuming more and more of the CIO’s attention in businesses around the world, and there’s a growing momentum to bring on the Chief Automation Officer (CAO) to make sure the business and IT are cooperatively strengthening the business overall.
“When organizations look at automation in a holistic and focused way from the highest level, they can regain control and value from their existing IT enterprise while they move ahead of the competition,” says Tijl Vuyk, founder of Redwood Software in Tech Decision Maker. “To do this effectively, they will need a CAO.”
“The CAO will be responsible for organizing and coordinating all of the enterprise processes under a single value chain and one set of governance rules,” he explains. “Much like an enterprise architect, they will be responsible for the architecture and implementation of an enterprise-wide approach to automation.”
Like CIOs, CFOs or CEOs, these CAOs must understand the fundamentals of the business, as well as the technical requirements to keep it moving ahead. “They’ve got to be extremely practical,” Vuyk adds. “They will have decision-making abilities for the business and IT. Their job will be to make sure that the company uses automation wisely, correctly and pervasively.”
Vuyk believes installing a CAO can enable CIOs to better focus on technology for transformation of the company, which is now vital in the rapidly changing digital world.
Keeping critical business data onsite is now regarded as one of the biggest dangers facing businesses. Specifically, intellectual property is at risk from outages knocking out file servers, servers failing completely, and problems with backup routines resulting in failed data recovery.
“If a fire, flood, or other disaster hits the office, the backup hard drives or tapes will be destroyed along with the computer systems,” according to Bloomberg Business Week. “Physical hard drives and onsite computer servers can fall prey to viruses and other equipment failure. Employers or outsiders can steal equipment from the office or while it is in transit to a safe location.”
In a recent Symantec SME Disaster Preparedness Survey, 44 percent of respondents said their businesses would lose 40 percent of their data if a disaster struck the onsite data center.
“Far better is to use outsourced services to move your company data into an enterprise-grade data center, devolving responsibility to qualified experts who can maintain uptime and recover data with minimal downtime,” writes Mark Walker, an expert on outsourcing and managed services, writing on Business2Community.com. “Your business will save cash and guarantee its intellectual-property protection.”
With new technology creating big overlaps in IT and Marketing budgets, one prominent industry analysts sees CIOs and CMOs becoming a “C-suite power couple.” But, says Forrester’s Sheryl Pattek, the duo “is in need of serious couple’s therapy.”
One reason is that the goals of the two positions are not always compatible. “While on the surface, CMOs and CIOs seem to agree, only one in 10 marketing and IT executives in an Accenture study said collaboration is at the right level,’’ she writes. “True collaboration remains a long way off in the areas of technology selection and joint project implementation.’’
Pattek said a 2013 survey performed jointly by Forrester and Forbes magazine, revealed differing priorities among CIOs and CMOs. The former is focused on back-office operations and on controlling costs, while the CMO is looking only at the breadth of marketing goals.
She said the industry is still in the early stages of developing effective marketing technology. “A company’s ability to succeed depends on how customer-obsessed they are and how much they understand their customers and their wants and needs,” she explains. “And to do that, what’s needed are great insight, an understanding of the market and really good technology.”
Well, with nearly 10 percent of EasyStreet employees driving an electric or hybrid electric vehicle, plus many other neighbors in our business park — not to mention our customers — the answer is, “a lot.”
Here’s a picture taken last week of four Nissan Leafs huddled together for a free charge.
Earlier this month, The Oregonian ran a nice retrospective about Rich Bader’s long tenure as a local technology executive. It provides a nice overview of EasyStreet’s history from ISP to Cloud provider. In the article, Rich confesses to enjoying his retirement as he is going through “a period of self-indulgence.”
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Cloud computing is breathing more life into IT outsourcing around the world, which consultants at Ovum say will grow about four percent in 2014.
Thomas Reuner, principal analyst at Ovum, says that while some commentators have predicted the death of outsourcing, it is remaining a strategic tool for businesses. “I don’t see a reversal of outsourcing, I see more flavors,” he told TechRepublic.com.
“Renegotiation and delivering more for less is the norm, so new technologies come in, like the cloud,” adds Reuner. “The cloud is commoditizing a lot of IT – it’s a not a tool or lever to go to high-margin business. If anything, it’s the other way around. It’s taking out margin.”
“Four percent, given that a lot of other segments around IT are declining, while not spectacular, is still growing,” he says. “We will see different flavors of outsourcing; if you think about cloud there are different flavors of cloud.”
Reuner said firms are not choosing outsourcing just to cut costs, because there are now easier ways to do it. “Outsourcing is not necessarily the tool, especially in the private sector, for driving down cost,” he explains. “It’s a more complex picture out there now, and people are not looking for a silver bullet any more.”
IT has been transformed in recent years from a department that fixed networks and kept desktop computers running, to one that interacts regularly with front-line business strategy.
“Rather than having an IT department sit back and wait for something to break down within the company’s technology, the tech employees are actively involved with day-to-day business strategies,” writes industry commentator Adam Kinsey. “Whether it’s sitting in on meetings or actively engaging with other departments, it’s happening.”
“It’s common nowadays for an IT manager to be in on executive meetings, discussing things like how data processing is affecting product delivery at the beginning of the week,” he continues. “The reason is that with customer demands at an all-time high, it’s no longer adequate to get the package to a client’s door. It needs to get there quickly, and be tracked in real time over the internet the whole way.”
Clearly, this raises the profile of the IT manager, while also levying responsibilities unlike anything associated with the position just a decade ago. Today, Kinsey says, “IT managers must have an analytical mindset and be willing to integrate it into his or her everyday routine. This directly influences the way that every member of an IT team impacts a business model.”
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Through much of 2013, there was much talk of IT as an endangered species soon to be gobbled up by corporate marketing or whittled down to a nubbin due to the invasion of cloud computing.
But for all of that talk, budgets and headcounts for most IT organizations participating in the TechTarget IT Salary and Careers Survey for 2013 remained at the same level or experienced growth during the year.
Of the IT executives included in the survey, 38 percent said their budgets grew for the year and another 38 percent said they remained flat with 2012. Similarly, IT headcount grew in 29 percent of the organizations and remained flat in another 47 percent, for a total of 76 percent having escaped downsizing.
For now, reports of the IT organization’s demise appear premature, according to Nicole Laskowski on SearchCIO.com. “Indeed, data suggests 2014 will provide another year of stability and even growth for IT departments, with 32 percent of respondents indicating they’re fully staffed and another 39 percent indicating they’re looking to make new hires.”
The salary survey was launched in September and remained open through October, attracting 1,711 participants in total. Senior IT executives were defined as CIOs, chief technology officers, executive vice presidents, and directors of IT and information security.
According to a survey from the Ponemon Institute, The average cost per minute of unplanned downtime is now $7,900, up a staggering 41 percent from $5,600 per minute in 2010. Part of the increase is attributed to the fact that today’s data centers support more critical IT systems than ever before.
Some interesting highlights of the study include the average incident length and the percentage of survey respondents who had an outage in the past 24 months.
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In a world where it’s impossible to stay ahead of the technology curve, the very way a CIO thinks must become highly adaptable, says columnist Samuel Greengard in CIO Insight.
“Once upon a time, a CIO orchestrated the use of elaborate enterprise systems and helped ensure that chunks of data were fed into and out of these behemoth systems. IT clearly ran the technology show in the client-server era,” he explains.
“Today, the employee tail often wags the enterprise dog,” he continues. “BYOD, for example, is more than a way to eradicate the hassle of buying and managing gear for employees. It’s a fundamentally different way to operate IT and run an enterprise. It drives consumerization which, in turn, profoundly alters IT and changes the way people interact and work.”
The constant flux makes the CIO more dependent on everyone from senior executives to entry-level employees. “CIOs must think like a futurist but dispense technology like a pragmatist. It’s also critical to approach IT with a level of creativity that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.”
“More than anything else, today’s environment requires CIOs and other tech leaders to embrace the right brain in order to think whole brain,” Greengard says. “In this new order, creativity is just as important as knowledge, and a vision is just as critical as a view of IT.”