More CIOs entered or were nominated for this year’s CIO of the Year award, sponsored by NetApp, than ever. And now we are down to three finalists.
The three, announced online last week, are: Allan Dornan, CIO, IAG New Zealand; Julia Raue, CIO, Air New Zealand, and; Colin Smith, CIO, Manukau City Council.
Some common themes emerge from the nomination and entry forms for these CIOs.Firstly, strategy is to the fore. For all of them, developing IT strategy — and in some cases their organisation’s first IT strategic plans — is a core responsibility. Indeed, it is the reason they are there.
And, of course, such plans do not happen in isolation. They have to reflect the direction and overall business strategy of the organisation. Alignment of business and IT strategies is an integral part of IT strategy development.
Secondly, there is a strong sense of these organisations consolidating and simplifying their infrastructures to reduce operational costs and improve organisational agility.
Finally, we see these CIOs building “branded” IT services units. IT is no longer a back-room activity with little contact with the business — it has moved out into the mainstream, touching all organisational activities and initiatives and marketing its own capabilities in words and actions.
The manufacturing plant
IAG’s Allan Dornan joined the company in 2007. At IAG IT is the “manufacturing plant” and is crucially important to the success of the business. Since his arrival in 2007, Dornan and his team has delivered a new IT strategy and re-built the Technology Services department.
IAG incorporates the iconic NZI and State insurance brands and still retains a legacy of divergent IT systems. Dornan’s key goals have been to rebuild his department, align its activities with business goals and deliver better project outcomes and cost-effective services.
A member of IAG’s executive team, Dornan brings business experience to the table from roles at two other insurance companies. He is also a hands on technologist by background, with 30 years experience in software development and infrastructure engineering.
In his time at IAG, he has introduced Project Portfolio Management and Agile project management to ensure IT priorities are properly identified and that deliverables match the expectations of the business.
As part of those changes, iterative development has replaced waterfall and, in conjunction with ASB, his team has delivered a full policy lifecycle insurance application.
Rationalisation and standardisation of infrastructure has also led to the decommissioning of some of the older niche platforms and systems.
Colin Smith became Manukau City Council’s first CIO in July 2006, following the creation of the Information Management Department as part of an organisation-wide change programme.
He was charged with developing a “purposeful vision” including developing an IT strategy, improving fragmented communications and delivering standard policies and procedures among a long list of objectives.
Key to this was establishing Information Management as a trusted brand within the organisation.
For Smith, establishing the stability and availability of IT services was a crucial first phase. That required the creation of a service culture, he says, as well as a strict adherence to standards augmented by targeted investment.
Once that was achieved, the next goal was to ensure the new department’s resources were focused on the right priorities. The department introduced customer relationship managers to work with internal and external customers to understand their business drivers and needs.
On the project level, a new Programme & Project Management Office was established to manage the project portfolio and to demonstrate the department’s ability to deliver.
The result? Better service and significant cost savings.
As with IAG, IT is recognised across Air New Zealand as being critical. IT, under Julia Raue, has enabled radical business transformation across many business areas, including online sales, customer self-service and airport operations, ensuring Air New Zealand remains competitive and provides a uniquely New Zealand product with a clear point of difference.
Raue’s role encompasses infrastructure and services delivery as well as project delivery, to a standard that often exceeds the needs of the business. A key strategy is to focus on customers, with the mantra “we fly people, not planes”.
In the highly competitive airline market, innovation is crucial. At Air New Zealand that innovation is about delivering new products and services, which reflect the company’s uniquely Kiwi culture.
Once again, system availability is a key issue. After all, if you move to online channels in a 24 x 7 operation, downtime has an immediate impact on revenue.
And all of that has to be achieved, in these straitened times, at maximum efficiency. As with the other entrants, tangible and valuable cost savings have been made to improve the organisation’s bottom line performance.
And the winner is ...
Computerworld was impressed by the number and quality of entrants in these awards - and at the level of achievement evidenced in the submissions received.
The finalists have now been interviewed individually by the judging panel and the winner will be announced at the CIO Summit dinner on 21 July, at the Hyatt Regency in Auckland.