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Inside the mind of the CIO

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It’s been said many times over, but today’s CIOs are facing the biggest challenge the role has seen in many years, writes Gary de Menezes, country manager southern Africa at NetApp.
Data is growing at an exponential rate, while IT budgets are being spread even more thinly across the business – with many other business units forging their own path when it comes to using IT services and applications. Investment in IT from non-IT departments now makes up a fairly substantial proportion of overall IT spend, and it is steadily growing.
Not only that, many businesses and CIOs are now using dual vendors to handle the increased demand for data management and new applications, many of which can be serviced by a number of cloud service providers just for the one business.
It paints a complicated picture. The management job for a CIO is huge. The recognition and understanding of this complex role is paramount for selling the most suited products and services to today’s CIO customer.

Top of the data mind: safety and agility
At the heart of the issue is helping them get to grips with the huge amounts of data that a modern business creates and has access to, across many different applications, and the different cloud service providers on the market. Safety and agility are the two factors that will be at the forefront of the mind when it comes to searching for a solution that can help manage data.
Currently, many businesses will find that data and applications will sit in different silos, each being controlled in unique ways. The value of data to the business only comes when these silos are interconnected and are able to be controlled and analysed at the same time.
For many, connecting these IT and data silos is proving difficult and it’s as much about communication as it is control. With digital now prevalent in many business units, from marketing to customer relations, today’s CIO needs communicate their position within the business better. They should be seen as the person that can provide the IT services needed to build the necessary business function in an attempt to build a competitive advantage.

From builder to provider
No longer is the CIO a builder, but an internal service provider. The role is as much about the management of services as it is understanding the deep technicalities of the IT infrastructure. CIOs have much more in common with the service providers they partner with than ever before, and it is the role of the channel to understand these new pressures and be the partner that enables the CIO to serve his/her “customers” in the best way possible.
For many CIOs, the cloud will allow them flexibility in offering them the services the business needs. Many will opt for a hybrid approach, so enterprises can retain business-critical data securely in an on-premise data centre, while storing broader company data in the public cloud. It gives the CIO the security and control they crave, but the agility to respond to new requests or demands from the many business units. Through a hybrid cloud solution, enterprises can truly innovate, using data to react in new ways.

All aboard the joint journey to change
For NetApp and its channel partners, it is vitally important to be aware of the IT landscape that we are helping create and the impact it has had on the traditional CIO role. There will be CIOs that are reluctant to change, but we need to take them on the journey to the cloud by better understanding their business and the rise of IT budgets being spent by non-IT departments.
NetApp built its data management platforms with these CIO challenges in mind. Data management platforms act as a data fabric across the entire IT landscape, which can help customers ensure that there is no lock in and CIOs have the choice to use any cloud resource they believe is right to maximise operational efficiency. Ultimately, it gives the control back to the CIO.