I was recently in a meeting with the CIO and a selection of senior Business Unit executives from one of Australia’s largest companies. We discussed the importance of cloud and big data for all businesses in the future and how these technologies and concepts could apply to their industry. Looking at the body language around the room, the reactions were typical of senior executives really exploring these concepts for the first time – awe, excitement, trepidation, confusion, curiosity and a desire to learn more.
“No one in this company has ever asked me to help them with social media. In fact, I have had one request regarding social media and that was to turn it off.”
-CIO of one of Australia’s largest companies
Australian business leaders are starting to realise that no business and no industry is immune to the disruption that is underway with technology mega trends. These mega trends include cloud computing, big data, the internet of things and the proliferation of high speed internet connectivity in Australia and abroad. There are examples of high profile, long standing and famous Australian businesses that have suffered immense disruption at the hands of new technology – media companies such as Fairfax and News Limited, software companies such as MYOB, retailers such as David Jones and Myer, Australia Post – the list goes on.
Back in the meeting room with the CIO and senior executives, I was struck with a thought: “whose responsibility is it to ensure that Australia’s big businesses are embracing technology mega trends?” Is it the CIO? Should business leaders expect that the CIO proactively teaches them about new technology, shares case studies, applications and ideas? The answer to this question is certainly “yes.” But is it only the responsibility of the CIO? The answer to this question is “no.”
The responsibility for adopting new technology lies with the entire leadership team of Australia’s big corporates. Those that have successfully embraced technology mega trends have done so with a united management approach to change – think Domino’s pizza and its tremendously successful online ordering strategy. Online commerce has been a critical part of the immense success and growth in value that Domino’s has experienced over the last few years. The successful execution of the online ordering strategy required buy-in and contribution from all parts of Domino’s – IT, finance, legal, marketing, sales, operations, HR. Domino’s Australia has left its competitors for dead by adopting a technology mega trend.
My advice to Australian business executives (and executives globally) is to be curious and to be open minded about the technology that you see and use every day. For example, think about how the technology that underpins your favourite app on your iPhone could apply to your business or your industry. Then take your ideas and your curiosity and share them with your leadership team. You should push and challenge your CIO to help you understand the underlying technology and how it can be incorporated into your business. I bet that any CIO will find this conversation 10 times more interesting and exciting than the usual conversations they have with the executive team about IT outages and cost cutting.
I believe that the responsibility for embracing and driving benefits from technology mega trends lies not only with the CIO, but also with the executive leadership team of big businesses in Australia and elsewhere. Your IT partner ecosystem is also really important and you should expect partners to bring new technology, case studies and agility to your organisation. If they are not, find some new IT partners. Might I suggest that you put Rackspace at the top of your list?