The 3 Significant Challenges for CIOs in Asia Pacific

Last week I posted an article entitled: Feng Shui, Do You Have the Energy for Business Success, which was written for another project that didn’t go ahead. The other article I put together was an interview with Dane Anderson, Vice President, Research Director and Region Manager for Forrester Research. Once again – not strictly communications related – however for marketing and communications professionals working within the ICT industry, Dane’s advice is perfect for helping you target and hone your communication strategies for Asia Pacific based on the very real challenges CIOs are discussing. Dane is at the front line, talking to CIOs all the time, and he offers great perspective on these primary challenges. Let me know your thoughts when you get a chance?



The Three Significant Challenges for CIOs in Asia Pacific

By Andrea Edwards

Asia Pacific is behind the rest of the world in new technology adoption, and considering the benefits ‘Technology as a Service’ promises, I wanted to understand why. There is no question a paradigm shift in what technology delivers has taken place, and it is apparent CIOs in the AP region need to embrace this new world. The fundamental shift CIOs must make is to move away from delivering IT to becoming a service centre to their customers. To understand the challenges CIOs are facing, specifically within Asia Pacific, I spoke with Dane Anderson, Vice President, Research Director and Region Manager, Forrester Research, Asia Pacific, to get clarity on what he believes are the biggest road-blocks to adoption.

What are the Biggest Challenges Facing CIOs in Asia Pacific Today?

“The first and biggest challenge is ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) to work, which means loss of control for CIOs. The consumerization of IT is creating tremendous pressure, as more executives bring external devices into the workplace. This is not new, but for CIOs in Asia it is becoming a challenge. The iPad, in particular, stands out in this region because it is a major success with CEOs. Having the most senior person in an organisation a strong advocate, the message from business leaders to CIOs is clear – figure it out. However, working out how to integrate external devices into an organisation is not easy, and I see this as the number one challenge for CIOs in Asia Pacific.

“The second is speed of change. In the past, when enough demand was reached, or the company made a strategic decision to implement a new solution, a change was made. Today, users don’t have to wait. End-users of IT have access to thousands of enterprise ready apps online instantly. No effective CRM system in place? Go to Need to share documents anywhere on any device? Go to Google docs or Drop Box and you’re done. Need more effective collaboration between your geographically dispersed team? Go to WebEx and download it. Today, when professionals want a solution they have choices. The significant challenge for IT departments is working out how to manage the security and data integration aspects.

“The third aspect has to be confusion. Today, everyone is talking Cloud, virtualization, Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and more. I believe CIOs are finding it confusing, confronting and overwhelming, which is resulting in apathy. SaaS and IaaS are cheaper, it scales, providing enterprises with world class access to the latest technology at all times. CIOs are testing Cloud and virtualization solutions, working out how they can deal with usage spikes, manage security implications, and so on. Some ignore it, while others recognise the need to change, but don’t know where to start. I believe CIOs of large organisations must embrace these new solutions. Today it’s about the pace of change; therefore, setting yourself up to be nimble is how you will be able to compete in the future.”

So How do CIOs overcome these challenges?

“I believe CIOs need to stand back and assess what business benefits these solutions bring to their organisation, including cost savings. They need to honestly ask themselves: what do I fear? And then work out how to manage those fears. I think the core area CIOs need to focus on is securing data and applications behind the firewall. To do this, they need to change to a service mentality and become a service centre for their customers.

“Changing to a service centre is a major shift for CIOs, one I expect will really take hold in future generations, as the “old way” of delivering IT reaches retirement age. In the early days of IT, what end-users accessed at work was superior to home technology. This is now reversed. As such, users of technology want access to the best solutions at all times, and that is leaving IT teams scrambling to keep up with demand. Before they could move slowly because everyone did, now if they continue – as they are doing in Asia – they will not be able to deliver superior IT experiences to their customers.

“If I put it simply I’d say Pandora’s Box is now officially open and CIOs are no longer in a position to control the end-user experience. If the CIO does not deliver what the end-user wants, they will get it anyway. It’s a scary time for CIOs, so a conservative, risk-averse approach is not going to help. The box is open and you can’t put “it” back in – so work out how to manage it, and make it your priority to secure data and applications behind the firewall.”

Times have certainly changed, with everyone from the CEO to Generation Y relishing in new technology. From speaking to Dane, it seems they’re going to get it, whether the CIO delivers it or not.

About Andrea

Andrea Edwards is a communications strategist, writer and prolific blogger, based in Singapore, working hard to elevate the art of business story telling in Asia Pacific.


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