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CIO Priorities: Deloitte Consulting

Posted on Saturday, Oct 31st 2009

By Guest Author Narayanan Raman

In the first article in this series, I talked about CIO priorities at Accenture. In this article, I speak with Mark White, principal and CTO at Deloitte Consulting. According to Mark, the top focus area for CIOs and CTOs is cloud computing. Let’s see what Mark has to say.

Mark categorizes his priorities into two arenas, “value delivery” and “executive delivery.” By value delivery, Mark refers primarily to process automation, information automation, and the notion of delivering speed, scale, and sophistication of technologies to business users and end customers. Executive delivery, on the other hand, addresses priorities from the viewpoint of the CIO and CTO tables. Here, Mark refers primarily to three aspects: efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation. The intersections of “value delivery” and “executive delivery” form the basis of the CIO agenda.

On the value delivery front, although large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations and functional transformations (e.g., finance, supply chain) are undertaken, they occur at a much more cautious pace, and in some cases, are being executed in phased approaches versus a large single contract. With an eye toward the executive delivery front, these implementations are also being undertaken with a clear focus on effectiveness and efficiency. This is achieved through a focus on capital conservation through initiatives such as infrastructure cost reduction, a focus on sustainability, a focus on IT infrastructure library (ITIL), and metrics-based portfolio management.

Being a CTO of the consulting house, Mark also has great insight into the CIO priorities of his clients, which he categorizes into five key areas. Cloud computing tops the list,, followed by four other priorities, each of roughly equal importance: business intelligence, security, social media and collaboration, and service-oriented architecture. There is also a sixth priority today, somewhat different from the other five, which is merger and acquisition.

On the cloud computing front, Mark first defines the cloud on the basis of a five-part test from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). According to the test, a service is a cloud if it is end-user self-provisioned; ubiquitously available across the Internet protocol (IP) network; location independent; on a scale that is elastic; and if its price is elastic and “pay as you go.” He then classifies the cloud space based on three dimensions. The first is the type of cloud – infrastructure, platform, software as a service, or business as a service. The second dimension, which he calls “sourced how” deals with the private, hybrid, virtual private cloud, community, and public ways of sourcing the cloud. The third dimension deals with who you are speaking with – subscribers, providers, cloud enablers (players providing tools for cloud providers), or even cloud services brokers.

Having established that context, we now look at current trends. On the whole, the greatest adoption has been in public cloud services. When we talk about large organizations that are subscribers to cloud services, adoption has been highest in infrastructure as a service, followed by software as a service and platform as a service. In this case, interestingly, adoption is following a pattern similar to that of virtualization. Efforts in virtualization were initially geared towards development and test environments, and after people were convinced of its potential, to production environments. Similarly, subscription to cloud services is currently being seen in non-mission-critical development and test environments. In contrast, in the case of small and medium enterprises, there has been large-scale adoption in all environments for two reasons: very low initial capital outlay and a quicker time to solution.

Switching gears, when asked if the priorities would have been different if not for the recession, Mark said that the deployment rationale for these priorities would have been different, but mostly, not the priorities themselves. Collaboration projects, for example, are now being undertaken to conserve capital, but in good times, they would have been undertaken to conserve and connect “talent.”

The economy might not be in the best condition now, but that will change. On being asked the focus of CIOs in the next five years, Mark said that he has three items on this list. The first is business intelligence, information integration, and master data management, since there will be an ever-increasing need to derive intelligent information from data analytics exercises to make business processes more efficient. Focus on governance, standards, and policies is second on Mark’s list, because the industry still does not have a finished playbook of governance, standards, and policies for the cloud, cyber security and privacy, and Web X.0 spaces. The third item is what Mark calls “the workplace of tomorrow,” which he believes will focus on three aspects – accessing the right talent regardless of time and place; empowering these people with the relevant information, tools, and technologies to make them more effective and efficient; and conserving and sustaining the organizational knowledge base.

Finally, Mark said that while capital is the most constrained resource today and the focus is on improving efficiency and conserving capital, of late he is seeing an increased focus on “what comes next” as businesses think about how to take advantage of the opportunities that will unfold after the recession ends.

This segment is a part in the series : CIO Priorities

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