Hosted by CIO Australia's associate editor David Binning and its editor Byron Connolly, The CIO Show boasts the most candid, entertaining, and informative conversations about enterprise technology today. Australia's chief information officers and other senior technology and digital leaders discuss the key issues that shape the business of IT.
Will your COVID-19 transformation stick?
Was COVID-19 really been as transformative as many people – especially vendors – suggest? Or has it been more like a scramble, still demanding a proper reset of strategy and priorities to extract real value from new and ongoing technology investment?
The real answer probably lies somewhere in between.
A 2020 report by McKinsey: How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point and transformed business forever, notes that while there have been giant digital strikes taken in the past 18 months – especially in APAC – many senior tech leaders have expressed doubts about the degree to which many of the changes will actually stick.
Worryingly, while 53% of tech leaders surveyed by McKinsey said they expected to maintain COVID-19 levels of spending on cyber security while 27% said they wouldn’t.
And there were similar proportions citing things like remote working, cloud migration and advanced analytics as areas they didn’t expect to sustain at COVID levels.
Dr Ian Oppermann, chief data scientist with the NSW Government and industry professor at the University of Technology Sydney, has led a large and successful program of digital works since before the pandemic. This has held the government in good stead as it sought to maintain and improve services, while enabling a massive exodus to working from home.
Oppermann and his team have been especially busy deploying advanced technologies including AI and ML, which has driven greater appreciation of data within the NSW government, but he admits the challenge for it – and right across the public sector – is ensuring people don’t start thinking “we’re done”. Organisations that have accelerated their digital programs throughout the pandemic now need to embed more “sustainable frameworks” to build on what they’ve achieved and continue deriving value.
Alexey Goldov, associate partner with McKinsey’s technology practice in Australia, notes that COVID has seen many organisations place innumerable “band aids” throughout their digital environments. History shows that sometimes these stop-gap measures remain in place for years or decades, however he says CIOs should conduct a thorough assessment of everything that’s been put in place if they’re to have any chance of maintaining it.
Convincing the CIO and broader executive to maintain support for digital programs born or advanced during COVID is expected to be a significant challenge for CIOs moving forward, as companies look to cut costs, especially as the battle for talent becomes more fierce and more expensive.
The CIO Australia Show: What does ‘best practice’ mean for tech leaders in 2021?
The term ‘best practice’ is certainly one of the most misused in business and technology circles today. At times, one wonders whether it’s almost become a euphemism for never mind the details, and ‘nothing to see here’, while some of the most ill-fated plans can be conceived with the best of ‘best practice’ intentions.
To sensible minds, best practice has a very specific meaning, implying at least a collection of tasks that improve – ideally maximise – the efficiency or effectiveness of the core business and / or a process that supports it. It should also be something that’s able to be executed, as well as being replicable, transferable, and adaptable across industries.
But as you’ll hear in this episode the term best practice is losing its currency and indeed its relevance, as organisations adjust to the new realities of doing business today – with greater agility and ingenuity - and in particular given the large number of massive failures that continue to occur with alarming regularity.
Respected industry authority and CIO Show regular, Rowan Dollar views the term as something that’s often used to claim ‘plausible deniability’ when things go awry, standing almost as a 21st century parody of the famous ad slogan ‘No one ever got fired for buying IBM’.
CIOs serious about steering their organisations through the current turbulence should push back against vendors’ fondness for the term best practice, and demand to know what it means and what they’re paying for.
Dollar says the last 20-plus years have been defined by practices that have become more synonymous with failure than success, with a worrying trend towards neglecting redundancy and resilience – often as cost-cutting measures, magnified during the GFC – now laid bare during COVID-19.
Echoing this sentiment, IDC country manager for New Zealand, Louise Francis feels blind adherence to nebulous ideas of best practice have actually slowed many organisations down, impeding agility and innovation. Yet she highlights sectors from manufacturing and retail to transport and logistics, healthcare and education that were arguably hurt most by the pandemic, as offering examples of heightened agility and resilience that may well help rewrite the playbooks of the future.
Francis also notes that tech success today is increasingly defined by key issues that weren’t priorities when the term best practice entered the mainstream decades ago, in particular ethics, climate change, sustainability and diversity.
The CIO Show: What's your disaster recovery and business continuity plan today?
In this land of ‘droughts and flooding rains’, terrifying bushfires, earthquakes and now ever more emboldened cyber villains exploiting the pandemic, having a proper disaster recovery plan is critical to maintaining business continuity regardless of what calamity might befall you and your organisation.
We all know that being offline and/or being denied access to critical data and systems can have devastating consequences, even if only for a few hours, let alone days and weeks.
In this episode we speak with Jo Stewart-Rattray, veteran CIO and now CISO with home-care health specialist, Silver Chain Group, about some of her more exciting experiences working in the trenches in the face of major disasters in various industries. And she shares with us some of her most valuable lessons and advice for tech leaders operating with today’s higher tempo of existential risks.
Joining her is DR, BC and cyber expert Andrew Milroy, principal advisor with analyst firm Ecosystm, who observes that the challenge of business continuity has different contours today, not least of which because of the different technologies now underpinning organisations. For instance, as dependence on the cloud increases, there are also more cloud-based solutions designed to support better DR and BC.
But that’s not very helpful for a company that might have lost connectivity for whatever reason, and nor does it address the fact more and more malicious actors are specifically targeting recovery plans themselves.
The CIO Australia Show: The new world of digitised, data-led manufacturing
Manufacturing has typically been well behind the pack when it comes to digital transformation. As result, its ability to innovate and cut costs has been limited, certainly when compared with other industries, with Australia – and many advanced other countries – forced to ship more and more manufacturing offshore to Asia and other regions with cheap labour.
Yet there are definite new green shoots in this country with moves afoot within the local manufacturing sector to more fully embrace technologies like AI, the ‘industrial internet of things (IoT) and of course robotics to ensure we’re able to continue actually make stuff that people want and at a sustainable price point.
In this episode we speak with Pepsi Co A/NZ CIO, Brian Green about how the company is tracking with many important digital and data-led initiatives aimed at improving market understanding, supply chains efficiencies, shop floor operations, agricultural outcomes as well as cyber security. And we also get a glimpse into how the company is deploying AR and VR to acquire deeper customer insights, as well as remote execution of highly complex engineering tasks.
Joining him is Stephanie Krishnan, research director for IDC Manufacturing Insights, and a former professor at Wollongong University, sharing her insights into the Australian - and international – manufacturing industries, which she admits have been off the pace when it comes to embracing the best digital tools, yet with definite signs – as we hear from Pepsi’s Green – of improvement.
The CIO Australia Show: How to avoid cloud ‘bill shock’
It’s now become almost a cliché to state cloud computing isn’t always the cheapest option compared with on premise or some hybrid configuration.
In this episode we’ll be talking about how cloud cost management has now become a core competency for tech professionals today and what CIOs can do to avoid cloud bill shock and maximise the value of their cloud service agreements by ensuring they’re using the right services for the right tasks, as well as turning them off when they’re not using them.
CIO50 alumnus, Ian Robinson, CIO with Water NSW – one of the world’s largest utilities – shares his recent experiences of managing a vastly more complex digital environment that has seen the organisation acquire a large and growing digital footprint.
He says he’s the first to admit that cloud services can be a bit like crack cocaine, explains how he’s taking specially during dev opps cycles, and explains how he’s taking steps to develop a new and robust governance framework while trying to increase general awareness of cloud usage and costs amongst his team.
Also on the show is Gartner VP for CIO research, Chris Ganly who predicts that cost management is on track to becoming one of the most important elements informing cloud planning, procurement and management for those organisations serious about developing effective agile practices in today’s uncertain operational environment.
The CIO Australia Show: Where do CISOs sit in today’s organisations?
In today’s more treacherous cyber security environment, organisations with the biggest targets on their heads can’t afford not to employ a dedicated data security expert, such as chief information security officer (CISO) or similar title, not only to keep the organisation safe from malicious actors – and complacent staff, but also to ensure adherence to the latest laws, regulations and compliance requirements around the handling of data.
Yet even those that do aren’t necessarily achieving the protections they should because of entrenched cultural issues, especially in terms of how boards think about and manage risk.
Many executives remain focussed on financial risk and don’t fully appreciate the cyber variety until a major incident slaps everyone in the face, and then suddenly spending on cyber has a more obvious ROI.
Boards also tend to think that cyber should be part of a CIO’s job.
This is especially the case in smaller organisations that wouldn’t normally budget for a CSIO as well. But even when they do, how clear is it who’s responsible for what and reporting to whom?
Should CISOs operate as independent threat detectors or operate within IT?
Join our host, CIO associate editor David Binning as he speaks with Anna Leibel, former CIO with UniSuper and author of the recently published book ‘The Secure Board’, and Simon Piff, vice president trust and security research at IDC APAC.