Being The First CIO For Your Organisation

By Toneo T Rutsito
The best reward that passionate people can ever get is satisfaction in their work rather than the monetary gains, and a much more exciting yet challenging opening for crusty tech pundits has finally dawned on Zimbabwe.
In my past 9 years of technological exposure, I have accepted that I would rather spend the entirety of my life earning little, doing what I love and passionate about than earning so much from a lifetime career I don’t even enjoy.
The current global shift in technological landscapes has not spared Zimbabwe and i find the transition quite intriguing, though its still in its infancy.
The next big thing to hit the technology industry in Zimbabwe and most African countries is the opening up for the post of the Chief Information Officer (C.I.O) in most organisations. Last week i spoke in details on the importance of why every organisation should consider hiring a C.I.O
The Chief Information Officer (CIO), or Information Technology (IT) Director, yet also referred to as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a job title commonly given to the most senior executive in an organisation responsible for the information technology.
In such a scenario, generally, the CIO reports to the chief executive officer, chief operations officer or chief financial officer.
This clears the current distortion in most enterprises in Zimbabwe where the most senior person is an IT manager, reporting to the finance administration, strategically the IT manager is much more functional reporting to the IT Director or Chief Information Officer.
With the advent of high-tech gadgets and the social network dispensation, most enterprises are forced to start looking at technological opportunities to enhance their profit margins.
The majority of employees are now coming from technologically equipped environment driven by easy and intuitive Facebook, twitter, GooglePlus and LinkedIn interfaces. By a click of few buttons most tedious tasks are now being easily solved and pushed to the world.
The huge street banners, flyers and static ads may be still relevant but may no longer be as effective as a simple bulk SMS in a targeted recipient`s inbox.
The greatest challenge posed for the next C.I.O is bringing that experience, that ease of use, that social experience, into the enterprise environment.
The same opportunities presented by technology may also face serious resistance with the old guards or rather most senior employees in Zimbabwe who are coming from the type-writer generation. To them the computer its self is the greatest leap forward ever to grace their offices so trying to introduce these dynamic concepts to them would be rather unnecessarily disruptive.
Being a CIO is a result oriented task and when one is found in such a corporate setup , well the task to flawlessly deliver would have to pass through the acidic test, it takes a great deal of technological stamina to deliver technology to these two distinct age groups.
Of course above these immediate needs, as a CIO, you also have the organisation at large to serve and these are challenges that rather excites most tech savvy directors rather than discourage them.
This includes taking care of, help desks, communication networks (voice and data), computer program development, and computer systems operations.
On ground as a C.I.O, the day to day challenges would inevitably involve people leadership, managing budgets, business alignment, infrastructure security, compliance, resource management, managing customers, managing change and board politics among the top demands.
According to the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 which created the Chief Information Officer position, it also assigns the CIO the responsibilities over: all data centers, technical service centers, production scheduling functions, Policy, strategic planning, capital planning and investment, Acquisition, security and information assurance, architecture and infrastructure assessment among the most critical points.
Coming from a purely technological background, solving this corporate puzzle would be impossible.
The CIO in the modern organization is required to possess business management skills and the ability to relate to the organization as a whole, as opposed to being a technological expert with limited functional business expertise.
The greatest challenge for CIO’s in both public and private sectors is to carve out a budget for themselves and their staff that is appropriate to their responsibilities; the Clinger-Cohen Act does not appropriate funding but mere functions.
Presenting a tech related budget will and has always faced resistance in most corporate especially those which are not tech centric, Traditionally ICTs as enablers are not allowed to encroach and chew a larger chunk off the financial systems.
The other major challenges facing CIOs is tackling network capacity in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) era with the advent of new concepts of “ consumerisation” which is taking the corporate world by storm.
Consumeration concepts are driving the trend towards bring-your-own device. Employees are increasingly using their personal devices to access corporate resources which is putting the corporate network at risk. It has also become exponentially difficult to protect against mobile malware threats – IT and security managers simply don’t have the visibility or the control to ensure their environment is adequately protected.
What’s at stake here is rather the security of the organisation`s data, maintaining a satisfactory level of visibility and control. Striking a balance with needs of employees who are now demanding a loosely tightened IT environment- without the “IT policeman”.
Devising ways to build better products, and how we can sell those products to our customers via the available technological streams, is the million dollar question for CIOs. Knowing what your competitors are doing, and how best you can beat them settles the dust for the next top C.I.O
As technology in Zimbabwe is already filling up this void, the risks and rewards for the biggest tech post will be gradually defined to harness the greatest opportunities availed by technologies

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