Consider the agenda of a Chief Information Officer in a Canadian enterprise in 2006: they have watched as their nation’s economy achieved nearly four percent year-over-year growth, and they have also watched the global rebound in overall levels of information technology spending.
In the face of these pressures, it will be reassuring for some Canadian CIOs to know their concerns and IT investment priorities are generally in line with those of peers in other markets.
Broadly speaking, the latest Accenture study shows that the CIO agenda in Canada mirrors that of business leaders in other major developed economies. In the face of these developments, the research indicates that CIOs around the world grapple with the issue of shifting enterprise mindsets — particularly within their own IT organizations — moving from a ‘repair and maintain’ mindset to one of ‘develop and deploy’.
Starting that transformation requires analyzing current performance in five key areas of IT management: Industrialization, Innovation, Infrastructure, Integration, and Information.
Industrialization: IT leaders in Canada as well as the rest of the world need to focus on bringing the right governance models, quality, predictability, speed and reduced risk to IT delivery in a cost-effective manner. Our research suggests that Canadian CIOs are largely in agreement with their global counterparts in valuing metrics as the foundation of management control. There is also, for the most part, a solid familiarity with industrialized IT delivery approaches due to a strong number of highly skilled people that can act as multipliers for new management approaches.
Innovation: In investing in new technology, Canadian organizations pair their interest in the leading edge with a strong tendency to minimize risk. This means that despite a willingness to spend to achieve their objectives, far too many organizations find themselves often struggling to move from ‘repair and maintain’ to ‘develop and deploy’ mindsets.
To get maximum leverage from new innovative technology Canadian organizations should establish a clear enterprise-level IT architecture that governs what technology investments are made and that prevents future complexity and high costs.
Infrastructure: Canadian CIOs, like their global counterparts, are focused on rationalization, standardization and consolidation. The agenda for Canadian CIOs is to find a way to build secure, flexible, scalable infrastructures that are cost-effective and at the same time answer such questions as: How do you expeditiously add capacity without adding complexity? How do you prevent wasted investment in an under-utilized infrastructure while making expanding volumes of data? And, how can you provide secure and easy access to information, generating trust with investors and business partners?
Integration: Many Canadian organizations are geographically dispersed. Since taxes vary from province to province, business structures are highly localized. The integration challenges facing organizations are, therefore, enormous. Canadian IT organizations do not face quite the punishing asset-depreciation tax schedules faced by their U.S. counterparts. Nevertheless, the challenge of integration that takes into account shortening technology cycles and rapid obsolescence is still there. An opportunity awaits these firms: investing in process integration.
Information: Not surprisingly, Canadian CIOs are overwhelmed by both the current and the anticipated future demands for data, as are their counterparts around the world. The way this demand falls on various industries is of course uneven: sectors with high consumer interaction and high levels of financial information are under the most pressure. For Canadian CIOs, finding ways to manage so called ‘information lifecycle’ issues is their highest priority, with significant activity signaled in data warehousing, integration of structured and unstructured information, business intelligence, portals and enterprise applications to support the front office and operations.
Robert B. Dreyer is a Senior Executive in Accenture’s Technology Practice in Canada. He can be reached at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org. For a full copy of the study, visit www.accenture.ca.