Session Name: A View From the Bridge.
Thank you, gentlemen. In the immortal words of James Brown, “Can we take it to the bridge?” Our next topic is A View From the Bridge. That’s going to going to be a discussion moderated by Jon Collins. He’s an analyst with Inter Orbis and an analyst for GigaOM Research. He’s going to be talking with Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute and Simon Short, CTO and Head of Digital for Capgemini. Please welcome the next panel to the stage.
Jon Collins 00:33
Hello, everyone. I’ve got this huge, great big clock here. We’ve got 16 minutes and 47 seconds to go. This session is all about control. It’s all about the fact that we don’t have it anymore, working in IT. There’s a number of reasons we don’t have it. I think we’re all very familiar with the kinds of areas that are pushing this lack of control. We’ve got the Cloud stuff. We’ve got “bring your own device.” People are talking about consumerization, etc. To help us understand – not so much about the problem, but more about what people can actually do about that – I’ve got Simon and Matthew with me. Simon is with Capgemini and he’s looking at helping companies get on top of their IT. We’ll ask him more about the “bring your own device” and consumerization side of things.
Jon Collins 01:30
Matthew works with Interoute on the Cloud Service Provisions side. The external control and how organizations are responding to that. Hopefully at the end of it, if anyone’s got questions as well, we can take those. Hopefully at the end, we’ll have worked out how to get through this lack of control or we’ll decide that we’re going to descend into chaos, which is an option. Simon, if we start with you, what are you seeing out there in terms of how organizations are facing up to proliferation of technology, personal use, and so on?
Simon Short 02:13
I think it is probably the most interesting challenge in the dynamic of everything that’s going on in our industry at the moment. If you kind of went back just two or three years, everything in IT and the way a company operated was in the domain of the CIO. All IT was bought by the CIO, devices that were issued to people who work in the organization was from the IT department and it was all controlled. The proliferation of Cloud, different ways of working, different people coming into the organization, has seen a complete loss of control. People coming in with their own devices and expectation that you can do your own thing, and being able to utilize Cloud services, being able to get your data from all sorts of places. Being able to take what was secure in the organization outside very easily without anyone knowing, that’s what you’re doing. It’s not just “bring your own device” for people in the organization, it’s also inter-departmental. So, the CMO going off and buying their own Cloud services and other departments buying their own services and things being scattered across the organization, leads to that whole lack of control. A real challenge for the classic CIO role is “what are you going to do about it?”
Jon Collins 03:23
And the CIOs, they’re delighted by this situation? How’s it going down in CIO land?
Simon Short 03:29
I think we see, when we go into organizations, almost characteristically two types of CIOs. You’ve got the ones that are still fighting the battle which is lock everything down, get control, don’t allow “bring their own device,” don’t allow those services. Try and make things controlled and organized. And a different type where people are actually saying our job is about enablement. Our job is about how do we actually enable the different departments to do different things, the workforce to be able to use their own devices. How do we change the culture of IT so that it becomes enabling people to be able to do things? If you enable, you then also retain control, because you’re seen as a service provider.
Jon Collins 04:10
Matthew, part of this is your fault, isn’t it? Matthew is entirely responsible for the breakdown of all the power and control in the IT department across the world.
Matthew Finnie 04:23
We take full responsibility.
Jon Collins 04:24
Broad shoulders he has, he’s still able to smile. That’s great. How are you seeing it from outside in?
Matthew Finnie 04:29
To Simon’s point, you have two very different views. It depends on whether you see it as a battle or a war. From a CIO’s perspective, it’s really about–I think the idea they’re going to regain control– I was asked last week – with the iPhone 5 announcement with the Biometric security on the device, the thumbprint – “will this make it ready for the enterprise?” It’s sort of irrelevant, really, right? Because the biggest issue with that is can you hand the phone to your mate to answer a text for you while you’re driving, right? Does it make it more secure for the enterprise. The idea that people are going to somehow give up the freedoms they’ve had with a Smart phone, the access the they have with the Smart phone, the sophistication they have, to come into an environment where you’re almost being asked to part it somewhere. That’s an alien device. I think that battle is completely and utterly lost.
Matthew Finnie 05:24
I think for the CIO, his challenge now is he either – to Simon’s point – starts to say I’m going to retrench. And instead of having my marketing guys with Salesforce over here, my finance guys with SAP Online over here. And data sets starting to prop up not within the confines of your own data structures, but somewhere else, right? Which is actually arguably a kind of worse problem to have then the one you’ve envisioned having with a bunch of rogue users. Is for them to really say how do I define what’s useful, what’s critical to us to control? And then how do I almost assume that all my users are mobile? They’re going to want to have access to this information. To that point, you are becoming almost like a mini service provider. The progressive enterprises we work with, are starting to say, “give us an infrastructure that gives our users freedom, but allows us to control the bits that are important to us.”
Jon Collins 06:26
I hear you. I’m hearing empower them.
Matthew Finnie 06:31
We would say that.
Jon Collins 06:32
You would say that? I’m kind of wondering. Is it kind of just diminishing the role of the CIO? Should he just kind of go, “Oh, well,” and give the job to the PA and I’ll go home and set up a sandwich shop or something.”
Simon Short 06:45
I think this is actually the most interesting and exciting moment for a CIO, to actually get the job which is about a business job. Which is about working at the business level about enablement of the company to achieve what they want to achieve, and not being a CIO. You get the kind of classic CIO’s role as about cost reduction, controlling your estate, working for the CFO with a set of objectives that were based on that, to actually becoming the board member that’s actually enabling the company to do what they want to do. The classic “every company is now digital.” You don’t operate anymore where some companies work in the Internet space and some companies work in the High Street space or whatever it might be. All companies have to do that. If you haven’t got somebody with a role, whether it’s a chief digital officer or a chief information officer or whatever title you want to give them, whose job is about enabling the organization to be able to do that and be able to work at a faster speed. We classically see CMOs who say, “the reason I’ve gone off and bought whatever it might be – Salesforce or whatever it is – is because I asked the IT department and their answer was I can have it in 18 months’ time. Actually, I bought it, and it was up and running in three weeks.”
Jon Collins 08:02
Because we all know what technologies can look like in 18 months’ time, don’t we? It’s going to be that simple. This sounds fine. We can send a message out to CIOs and just say change. Is it going to be that simple? Oh, great. I’ll just start enabling the business now. Forget all that operational efficiency stuff.
Simon Short 08:20
No, I think what they’ve got to do is stop trying to almost exert the traditional end-point control they’ve always had. Which is, to some extent, a lot of IT policy that you want to lock down the end-point be it the desktop, is driven out of a world whereby people would come to an office. They had a phone which was pretty much fixed to a desk and a PC which was fixed to a desk. You’ve got to make the assumption, to some extent, the whole “bring your own device” is a fill-it for the CIO to– if you embrace and in return, what he’s going to do is try and take back the data. To a larger or lesser extent, the CMO may go out and get some kind of CRM somewhere else. Everybody’s happy and it all goes along well until something goes wrong. Then they say, “Why didn’t you tell us it was going to go wrong? Why didn’t you tell us if I had my iPad and I was using XYZ Wi-Fi provider and then I bridged it somehow into what we were doing, I would leak data sets all over the place? You didn’t tell us this stuff.” I think the CIO’s got to give a little and then in return, he’s then got to focus his energies in saying, “I’m going to control this critical piece and I will then give people the opportunity to work off it.”
Jon Collins 09:47
I’m going to “fess up”, by the way. I used to be an IT director and I was absolute rubbish at that kind of enablement stuff. I wanted complete control. To this day, I still have sympathy for people that become traffic wardens and end up shambling around streets, becoming more and more looking for cars. It drains it out of you. I’m going to put it you that it’s not necessarily as simple as just saying the expectations have changed. Maybe not all CIOs are up for this.
Matthew Finnie 10:15
You’ve got to think. When was the last time your CIO, or more over your IT director – you can answer this question – got a phone call from someone saying, “I’m just ringing up to just say I’m having a great day with you guys.” [laughter] It doesn’t happen. “I just love the help desk. I just thought I’d let you know, I love your guys on the help desk.” It never happens. You get the phone calls, “I sent a ticket in five minutes ago and no one has responded.” They’re not a loved organization, generally speaking. They’ve got to kind of give back the love. Maybe you bribe over the employee with a nice Smart phone that always helps.
Jon Collins 10:54
I think we need self-help groups for CIOs. Genuinely, I think it would be a really useful service to the IT industry.
Simon Short 11:04
Part of it is it isn’t just the CIO, it’s the culture of the organization that they operate in. I’ll give an example of an organization I won’t name. It had been trying to get the CIO and the CMO to be able to work together in what they were doing. After a year of trying, very publicly sacked both of them on the same day and sent a very strong message to the organization that said the reason I’ve sacked these two is because they can’t work together. We will move further down the tree unless the rest of you get the message. That starts with the CEO saying we’ve actually got to create ways of being able to do business that is working in this digital space that isn’t about the old-world control.
Jon Collins 11:47
One of the things that anyone taking control and bringing control in, is therefore taking control away from someone else. The CMO wants control as well and wants to be able put in place better services and website and so on. If anyone has got any questions, I’ll have a quick scan from time-to-time at the microphones. Please do stand up and put it on these guys. Meanwhile, I want to pick up what you said about data. Maybe we can build on that as a theme. Ultimately, is the CIO the one immutable element that can’t be changed, is the CIO’s role?
Matthew Finnie 12:30
Yeah, to some extent. Because if you think that most functional heads of organizations, the reason they go to the CIO or their system guys, they want to automate some element of their organization in terms of data handling, generally speaking, or collection. The CIO, to some extent, has got to see himself as the [inaudible] equivalent of the CEO. He’s got to be structuring while the CEO is thinking about his organization, from his sales guys, his marketing guys, his engineers -whatever. The CIO’s got to say, “Well, hang on. You’ve got data coming in. It’s being served up here. You’ve got a fulfillment piece here. There’s elements we want to maintain, some kind of data integrity and flow such that he’s got to think of himself as I am presenting to this organization an architecture that allows data to come in, flow out, and be accessed and acted upon. And then be reported on in a sensible way.
Jon Collins 13:25
A purveyor of fine information services.
Matthew Finnie 13:27
Jon Collins 13:29
So, question here.
One of the problems I have as an IT practitioner in the field is that often my CIOs and CEOs are actually technically incompetent and fundamentally assume that I should present everything to them in business terms. I’m fundamentally a technology practitioner and there’s no meeting in the middle. My challenge is how do we get CIOs and CEOs to speak technology to an acceptable level? I’m not asking them to be– at the same time as everybody saying why am I not speaking business to the business people? There’s a middle ground here. Why are CEOs so fundamentally incompetent?
Matthew Finnie 14:00
I am horribly biased as a technologist and engineer by training. I think they should be. I think it’s nonsense that a CIO can say I’m just a business guy. What are you doing being the CIO? I can understand if you’re a very large accountancy and they go around the partners and goes, “Who wants to be CIO?” And the poor guy who is looking away goes, “Well, me.”
Jon Collins 14:21
“Where are you going, Harris?”
Matthew Finnie 14:21
I buy it in that kind of thing. The guy with the smallest practice always gets lumbered with the role of being the CIO. I think generally speaking, it’s not acceptable. It’s simply not acceptable for a CIO today – if he’s going to be effective – to sit there. Because the days of you ringing up – Simon will probably say they’re kind of still are like this – the likes of Cap and others to say, “I’ve got a lot of problems. Can you come in with a whole host of people and figure it out and give us a shout when you’re done? That sort of role isn’t really a practical one. You’ve got to have a sense, I believe. You’ve got to have a sense as the CIO – or the CTO is probably more applicable – of saying if I’m going to serve up this sort of data to my organization and think about it that way, look at other comparable businesses who just do that. The person making those decisions invariably is going to have a more technical–
Jon Collins 15:16
Simon, is the phrase “intelligent customer” an oxymoron then?
Simon Short 15:22
I don’t think it should be. I think CIOs should absolutely be technical. They should understand what their department does, and what the capabilities are, and where it is they’re going. But, they also have to have that ability to be able to be able to be a business leader. They have to be in the board room. I think sometimes organizations demean the role by reporting it layers down. So, you find the CIO reports to the CFO and actually isn’t at the board table. I think that creates the same culture of back office control as opposed to front office enablement. I absolutely agree. CIOS, it should be the ultimate technical role, but it needs to be a business leader at the same time.
Jon Collins 16:00
We’ve sort of got one minute left. If no one is going to stand up…no, I don’t think so. I’m just going to ask for a bit of a wrap-up thing here. We did talk about service provider attitude if you like. To me, the key words within that is service. In the same way that you’d use the term service as a butler provides a service. Never forget they’re subordinate of the business needs. I think that’s something else that we can forget. With that in mind, how would you share– if you had one piece of advice to give to CIOs today – other than look for another job – if you can’t do these things, what would it be?
Matthew Finnie 16:37
I think it is simply your job, within the context of an organization, should be to say, “I can make the business processes.â€ And skip the way that word has been horribly mangled over the number of years. But, I can make the job of this organization more efficient, and I think I can do it in the following way.” By making it more efficient, that doesn’t mean that you’ve got to throw a whole load of caveats in the behavior of employees. You’ve got to accept that one of the stipulations of that, is that the employees are totally mobile in the way in which they want to think about things. And your job is to protect it.
Jon Collins 17:14
Last word goes to Simon.
Simon Short 17:16
My piece of advice would be this is a fantastic opportunity, embrace it. The CIOs that really embrace this and get this opportunity to say I’m a business leader and I can actually develop our business are the ones that will be hugely successful.
Jon Collins 17:30
Great. So, embrace, empower, deliver a service, and be bloody good technologically. Thank you very much.
Thank you, sirs. It’s time for an afternoon break. Stretch, get up, stretch, move around a little bit. Grab some refreshments, go upstairs to level one and visit the Serta Box sponsor workshop in the Sydney suite. Stop by the GigaOM research table and find out about all the great things they do there. Have some water, hydrate. That’s important before you attend the reception this evening at 5:00 PM. We’ll meet back here at 4:05 PM, 16:05 PM. Thanks, everybody and have a good break.