By Chris Cochrane, CIO, BT.
In a whistle-stop 11-day tour, I recently met with 13 of our key customers in five countries across Asia Pacific and the Middle East — Dubai, Qatar, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore.
It was my first visit to the region, and, despite not having a clue what day it was by the end of the trip, an eye opening experience.
The conversations I was having with the customers I met were no different to the ones I have with my peers anywhere else in the world. As CIOs of multinational organisations, the challenges we face are global. What did strike me was the sophistication and exciting nature of the responses to some of those challenges.
Top of the list keeping CIOs up at night is cyber security and data protection. Not just how you manage a global perimeter, but also how you balance the customer need for information on demand with the importance of security. We all want more and more information to be at our fingertips, but keeping that safe and secure then becomes more of a headache.
In an era of huge digital disruption, evolving the business model is another challenge on the CIO’s list. Innovative ideas coming out of the digital transformation of businesses kept us talking far beyond the formal meetings.
In Australia, I was lucky enough to host customers at the Sydney 7s. Despite my home team not qualifying for the event, and a punishing 39 degree centigrade heat, the informal discussions that took place only reinforced in my mind the transformation taking place across all industries, from transforming mining to revolutionising healthcare.
CIOs are also looking at how to best move to the cloud to get the benefits of hyper scale, flexibility and innovation, and how to get signal from the noise on big data.
These new disruptive technologies — mobile, collaboration, big data, IoT, video traffic, cloud — bring their own distinct challenges, particularly on bandwidth. But viewing it not as an IT challenge but as an opportunity to transform the customer experience has meant new legions of loyal customers, particularly in the aviation industry.
Of course, CIOs are not totally free to explore these new technologies. Legacy infrastructure is constraining their ability to drive digital transformation — of their business, of their customer interactions and of their employee productivity. Sixty-five per cent of organisations say their infrastructure struggles to cope with digital technologies.
But at the heart of that is the need to have a global hybrid network, which can assure performance, flexibility and security, meaning the applications used by their employees to serve their customers are always available — even as the business transforms.
My reflections were that, now more than ever, CIOs need a Cloud Service Integrator to make the journey to the cloud easy. After all, a third of them are already feeling weighed down by the number of responsibilities they have to manage. They need to focus on transforming in this digital era — whether their business, for customers or for employees. Even for industry leaders, the need to stand out from the crowd is high. And that’s not going to happen if they are focused on delivering now, not imagining tomorrow.
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