CIO Watch - Business Insight
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Good CIOs trade on having insight into the use of business automation, so I was pleased to be able to “mine” some insights out of David Jack, Group CIO at MetaPack and keynote speaker at the recent Bloor/CIF Cloud Master-class Conference.
KB (Kevin Borley): David Jack has a real depth of experience as a CIO – at Betfair, Trainline.com and Hyperion, before his current role at MetaPack. In that career, he has moved from a place where public cloud wasn’t even considered, to a role where Cloud is the first choice. I asked him whether there were general reasons why someone might not consider cloud, even today.
DJ (David Jack): No matter how far the cloud has grown in terms of security, that will always be the overarching question for those considering it, or not; “Will our data be secure and can we be sure where it is?” I believe that these rational concerns have already driven good adoption of best practice and technical innovation faster than anything else.
KB: I then asked David whether he saw the CIO role as primarily a technology role…
DJ: Not at all, the CIO role is all encompassing, as CIOs have to think about driving business value using tech rather than just the tech itself. Quality, Revenue and Sustainability are what shapes what we do and how we do it. The CIO who doesn’t think like a CEO is doomed, basically.
KB: That suggests an obvious question, what about CAPEX vs. OPEX then? Cloud is often sold on the benefits of moving to OPEX…
DJ: CAPEX vs OPEX sounds like a question for a CFO, but in reality, the sensitivity of moving to one or the other is often diluted by multiple factors involving each, the strength of the business and, frankly, what suits the investors view of what is discretionary vs running cost. For me cloud/non-cloud has never been a question of OPEX or CAPEX; it has been more about levers to smooth the peaks and troughs of cash flow and capital spend.
KB: OK, so moving on from the rarefied realms of finance, is there an obvious general technology concern for the CIO today then?
DJ: Of course, the board expects the CIO to deliver absolute enterprise hygiene and reliability; I can work with the board and figure out the economics. For me, it’s all about getting the governance right first, before you have the right to innovate.
KB: Is there an obvious risk with Cloud then, which the CIO needs to be in control of?
DJ: Being locked into one platform. I insist that my developers don’t exploit the deep functionality of any cloud platform that might stop them moving easily. We operate on both Azure and AWS – effectively removing any temptation to get locked into the services on a particular platform.
KB: Finally then, what do you think is the most important “actionable insight” you’ve gained from your career as a CIO?
DJ: Whenever you think you know what you are looking for; you are looking in the wrong place for business-transforming insight.