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I am reporting live from the field having completed chairing the debate session with the EU CIOs of the Year winners at the CIO CITY 2015 Digital Leadership summit in Brussels founded by CIONET with support from cegeka. In this 1 minute video, I overview the session conclusions.

The winners are:

  • Public Sector: Piera Fasoli, CIO of Gruppo HERA, Italy and Paul Danneels, CIO of VDAB, Belgium;
  • Medium-sized enterprise: Jean-Luc Martino, CIO, Raiffeisen Banque, Luxemburg;
  • Large enterprise: Mattias Ulbrich, CIO, Audi AG.

One question where I asked about future technologies, the impact of machine learning/deep learning came up as a disruption to watch for all enterprises. The signs are already there with useful tools in Microsoft Azure for all businesses; regular announcements from Google, Facebook, Baidu, IBM Watson.

Earlier, I had a long discussion with the founder of CIONET, Hendrik Deckers. CIONET is the largest community of IT executives in Europe with reach into Asia, South America and now North America; bringing together more than 5000 CIOs, CTOs and IT directors. Here is an added earlier chat with Frits Bussemaker program director, partner and liaison international relations CIONET.

There was so much value shared at CIO CITY which is the catalyst for this article. I will quote from the 2015 Digital Leadership Report released at CIO CITY largely researched, compiled and authored by Nils Olaya Fonstad and Frederic De Meyer. Nils is the research scientist, Europe and LATAM, MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR), Frederic is program and research director for CIONET International. There are key lessons for enterprises from the report and event which are summarized below and no particular order.

Lesson 1, 2:

Mattias at Audi Draw on IT to create new potential sources of revenue. To work on innovative mobility solutions with the Sales and Marketing division, Ulbrich helped found a new company, Audi Business Innovation GmbH, owned jointly by IT and Sales & Marketing. In his view this is the way forward for marketing and IT working together with a single, common objective in mind. IT is increasingly a part of everything a company does and could do. Therefore it is essential to collaborate in very intensive ways, create interdisciplinary teams, and jointly explore options for new sources of revenue.

Develop enough trust in IT to transform shadow IT into sources of innovation. To eliminate shadow IT, the Group IT first earned the trust of the rest of the business by delivering on what it promised, and pro-actively providing solutions to business challenges.

Lesson 3, 4:

Piera Fasoli at Gruppo HERA · Provide IT and the rest of the business with frequent opportunities to

engage. – Before last re-organization (in 2014), the IT team of HERA group met with the business every other month to either gather requirements, present and discuss the latest solution, or update them on the implementation process. This process was cumbersome. Now, the IT team meets with the business every week, not only to gather requirements but also to identify smaller, quick wins that can be developed in an agile way. This has –among other things – dramatically improved the quality of the results of the IT team, as well as the time frame in which these results were delivered.

stakeholders working together as a team
  • Make it attractive for those working in other parts of the business to work in IT. – Fasoli has created a function within IT, where people who have worked for three to five years in other parts of the business, and who also have a technological background, serve as demand managers to the business owners. They tend to be especially adept at quickly learning IT fundamentals. This role has emerged as a very attractive and strategic role.

Lesson 5, 6:

Jean-Luc Martino, CIO of Banque RaiffeisenInvolve operations early in the development process. Often the development and operations teams have separated work streams. Martino quickly realized the benefit of having the operation team involved in the early stages of a development process. Building a bridge between development and operations helps to ensure a smooth rollout of new projects.

  • Use governance to develop a single coherent voice. At Raiffeisen IT was historically spread among different business work streams. The IT governance practices were hence driven by the business. For Martino to be successful it was vital to have IT integrated again and develop a single voice in IT governance.

Lesson 7, 8, 9:

Paul Danneels, CIO at VDAB — · Develop the capabilities to include smaller, specialized providers in your sourcing portfolio instead of exclusively working with global players. Multi-sourcing with smaller, specialized providers has worked well for VDAB. Not only has it enabled a better monitoring of improvements, overall it has also led to around 25% savings on the total contract volume. Though this needs some organizational shift as well, each contract is monitored and managed by a dedicated service delivery manager, headed by an end service delivery manager.

  • Help the CEO become a leader of digital innovations. The vital role IT plays in the innovation efforts of VDAB undoubtedly has to do with the particular attention its CEO is bringing to technological developments within his organization. This close partnership between CEO and CIO has permitted to leverage the potential of IT as a business innovation enabler to a maximum.
  • Foster synergies across projects. Danneels hosts a two-day planning exercise, where participants look at the requirements and needs across multiple projects. “This has helped to foster a culture where the bigger objective of what the IT team is doing is constantly focused on and, hence, deeply understood.”

Lesson 10:

Nils Fonstad, Research Scientist at MIT— First, don’t loose sight of digitized platform capabilities. These are long-term investments that are fundamental to agility.

Second, business leaders must become digital leaders. The experiences of the finalists clearly indicate that demand for digital leadership is growing and cannot be met by a single CIO; organizations need multiple digital leaders to turn the disruptive potential of digital technologies into competitive advantages. Digital is not just IT.  Digital is now the whole business.

Third, with strong digitized platform capabilities and with shared and tightly coordinated digital leadership, organizations are distributing innovation, providing teams who are in direct contact with customers, partners and other external parties, with significantly more autonomy and power to innovate.

Frederic De Meyer, program director at CIONET International and head of research–There have been a lot of talks about the end of the CIO function. Behind the provocative nature of this statement, this is probably what is meant: technology is increasingly an embedded part of the business, not just merely a support or enabling function. A living proof of this is the increasing amount of CIO’s and IT staff that are recruited from other parts of the organization, as well as the number of CIO’s and IT staff that take responsibilities in other parts of the business. Proofs of point: one of the winners of last year’s European CIO of the Year award has now become a CEO of one of Philips Healthcare’s divisions, and José Manuel Inchausti, former CIO of MAPFRE, has recently been appointed CEO of the Iberia region of MAPFRE.

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