IT and marketing are a killer force: Andy Lark

How to contact Michael Dell, locate Andy Lark and other tips shared at the CIO Summit

If you want to get a message to Michael Dell, don't write an email, send it via Chatter. And, when he replies, expect the question and answer to be posted for everyone in the company to see.

That's just one of the insights offered by ex-pat Andy Lark, outgoing Dell vice president for large enterprise marketing, at the CIO Summit in Auckland yesterday.

Lark emphasised the importance of social media in the enterprise in his presentation entitled 'Enterprise 2.0: How the cloud, Web 2.0 and consumerisation are converging to reshape enterprise IT'.

He urged the audience of around 400 not to ignore the advent of social media, claiming that in November 2007 it unseated email as the number one method of communication. Social media in the enterprise isn't only a useful messaging tool it can also be handy to locate workers. Lark says when he is at the Dell campus people find out where he is by using the Four Square location app.

Company employees are using social networking on a range of devices, and this has created an enormous challenge for IT departments. Dell says in the US and UK, the consumerisation of IT is cited as the number one issue for CIOs.

Lark says the average age of today's social networker is 31 years old, and its not possible to 'turn off' social media sites, instead companies have to find ways of using these tools to enable workplace productivity, as well as communicate with customers.

At Dell agents are engaged in 22,000 online conversations about the brand every day. In answer to a question from the audience about the risk of employees tweeting, Dell says it's a small reputational risk; the bigger risk is ignoring social media altogether.

Lark says that every 20-30 years IT undergoes a "tectonic shift" and this is occurring now. The pace of change is rapid, and IT needs to align itself with marketing in order to provide value to the business. "You and marketing together are a killer force," he told the audience.

But to provide value IT has to be nimble, which requires "huge virtualisation", and the retraining of much of the current workforce. Lark spoke of a recent visit to a datacentre in Singapore where one systems administrator was in charge of 6000 servers.

According to Lark, it isn't enough to spend 80 percent of your resources on existing systems, leaving just 20 percent for innovation. To stay ahead of the game, and deliver value to the business, IT should spend 50 percent on maintenance and 50 percent on strategic innovation. Any resources saved by virtualisation, needed to be poured back into the business in the form of innovation.

This was one of Lark's last speaking engagements on behalf of Dell. He will take up the role as chief marketing officer at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in July.

Following Lark, Nick Holdsworth, the executive general manager of enterprise services at Commonwealth Bank, presented on CIO options for IT delivery. Holdsworth told the audience that "large monolithic outsourcing contracts" which last between five and 10 years are becoming a thing of the past.

He says the bank has a current product portfolio of 450 IT products. He acknowledged this was too many and says they are attempting to "roll them up" into products of a "higher order".

"We need to stop selling car parts and start selling cars," Holdsworth says.

A particular emphasis of his presentation was on creating standards -- ensuring that vendors met the same set of criteria. He drew an analogy with a supermarket who says to company selling oranges that the fruit must be a specific size, colour and shape and if it doesn't match it, then they won't buy it.

Where Lark had been effusive in his presentation, Holdswoth was circumspect. It will interesting to see if the two - representing the marketing and IT functions of the Commonwealth Bank -- can become the "killer force" that Lark spoke of in his presentation.

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