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Putting the CIO under the microscope

"If you don’t end up with a change in the way people work and get some value, then the technology hasn’t done its job." 




David Elton

Financial Times

6 November 2012


PA’s David Elton, IT and change management expert, has been interviewed for a Financial Times podcast on the role of today’s chief information officer.

David talks about how the IT industry has changed over the last ten years and how, in recent years, the focus has shifted back to a much quicker payback period for any IT spending: “I think we continue to see business taking quite a short term approach to IT. When it comes to investing in IT we saw a dramatic drop off following the 2008 credit crunch. This wasn’t in the amount of spending, but in terms of the payback period. I thought that this would be temporary and things would bounce back, but it hasn’t and most of my clients are still saying, ‘I need to see a return in 18 months or two years maximum’, otherwise things don’t fly.”

David is then asked whether this is promoting greater conservatism among boards, IT departments and IT leaders. David says: “It is promoting a lot more scrutiny, as people are asking what their IT investments are going to do and what the risks are. There is a stronger interest in exactly how something is going to work.”

David goes on to talk about the growth of business intelligence and cloud, and whether these changes have transferred the impetus for IT investment from the IT department up to the board. David points out that this is still an evolving story.

On the changing role of the CIO, David comments: “There is quite a lot of complexity in the IT estate. For example, tablets have swept through the business. They were seen as a way to improve customer service and many people saw the device and thought ‘wow’. They have subsequently run trials, but haven’t learnt very much or seen a change in customer interaction. In some cases, such as healthcare, tablets can make a lot of difference and are incredibly powerful. But it’s a different story when you look at ticketing staff on the railway, for example.”

David goes on to talk about the fact that the IT industry is well known for a high level of hype and that an important role for the CIO is to show how a new technology is going to work in their business. David concludes that technology is about making a change in the way people work. If you don’t end up with a change in the way people work and get some value from that, he says, then the technology hasn’t done its job.


You can listen to the podcast in full here. David is interviewed six minutes and 25 seconds in to the recording. 


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