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CIO Success in Three Steps

Technology’s protocol is to enable the business not the other way around

Of the many CIOs that I have had the pleasure to either work for or discuss with, one of the main concerns that constantly resonate is that of job longevity. When on average the job longevity for a CIO is between only 4-5 years and with trends showing that this is likely to shorten, it's no surprise that the role of a CIO requires instant success in minimal time and typically with minimal budget. Nearly every CEO's mandate to a CIO is for IT to be better, faster and cheaper.

With this challenge the three steps to success for any CIO are plain and obvious. They are:

  1. Eliminate risk
  2. Improve Cycle Times
  3. Reduce Cost

While these three steps may incorporate subsidiary aspects such as demonstrating how IT best serves the business, building technological confidence to the business and making IT more effective etc. they eventually all fall under one of the three steps mentioned above.

Step 1: Eliminate risk
First by eliminating risk from your IT environment you immediately address the business concerns of:

  • The revenue impact of downtime
  • The revenue impact of performance slowdowns
  • The impact to the business' brand value

Step 2: Improve Cycle Times
With a common business perception that legacy IT is too slow to deliver, improved cycle times are an imperative. This requires a solution that can accelerate the following and of course risk free:

  • Virtualization and consolidation
  • Refresh projects
  • New Application and Service Roll outs
  • Private Cloud initiatives

Step 3: Reduce Cost
The last and most obvious one also presents the biggest challenge especially as customarily the last thing a new CIO can do is ask for a large investment to implement their new IT strategy. The business will quickly recognize a CIO's success if they can prove that during their tenure they reduced CapEx and OpEx as well as Total Cost of Ownership.

So it's at this point imperative to remember that a CIO should not be concerned with buying technology from different silos and vendors but instead acquiring solutions that solve business problems. Long gone are the days when it was acceptable for a CIO to proudly boast the magnitude of their data centres and the large technology growth they had accumulated in an attempt to ensure everything was fully redundant. Instead the key drivers are for simplification, standardization & consolidation. This is where the concept of VCE's Vblock is key to a CIO's success.

Infrastructure more often than not doesn't carry the same sassiness or prominence to the business as a key application such as SAP but infrastructure is in essence the heart and soul of a business - if the server or storage goes down, the application won't work which ultimately means you cannot ship and sell your product, hence why the three steps to CIO success are linked to a successful infrastructure.

How to Eliminate Risk:
An integrated stack should entail a robust disaster recovery and business continuity solution that can not only be tested and proven but also implemented and run with minimum complication.

This should also incorporate the de-risking of application migrations from physical to virtual platforms and more specifically key applications that the business depends on.

Moreover this means a de-risked maintenance and operational procedure for the IT environment that is pretested, prevalidated and predictable and consequently eliminates any unplanned downtime.

In the past eliminating risk in this way has resulted in countless testing and validation procedures where every minute spent testing is a minute spent not growing the business. A true converged infrastructure can immediately resolve this.

How to improve Cycle Time:
Delivering a predefined, pre-integrated stack or in essence a plug and play data centre that's delivered and built fit for purpose in typically only 30 days can quickly achieve this by reducing typical infrastructure delivery times by three months. Having proven infrastructure in minimal time allows the application owners to roll out new services at a fraction of the time and consequently cost.

How to Reduce Cost:
The key to this is to link any proposed investment to a tangible ROI that spans at least three years. Where most vendors have made the mistake of determining ROI based on virtualizing a total physical infrastructure this rarely works as most organisations have already virtualized to some extent. Instead an incremental value needs to be formulated that is linked to the virtualisation of key business critical applications.

Additionally with an integrated solution across the stack there's no need to manage multiple components of an infrastructure and consequently multiple failure points that preoccupy multiple silos. This encompasses a changing of the mindset of technology being a break/fix, reactive organisation where heroes are rewarded for extinguishing fires. Instead a proactive and preventive methodology that has an "always on" culture will be adopted.

By streamlining the workforce to do more with less in correlation with application teams, OpEx cost savings can quickly be achieved by redeploying money from the back end infrastructure to front office, revenue enhancing business value and productivity.

To conclude, technology's protocol is to enable the business. Ensuring success in the three aforementioned steps enables a CIO to quickly enable the business .....and it may also allow them to stay in their job that little bit longer.

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

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