With the AI hype cycle and subsequent backlash both in full swing, IT leaders find themselves at a tenuous inflection point regarding use of artificial intelligence in the enterprise.

Following stern warnings from Elon Musk and revered AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, who recently left Google and is broadcasting AI’s risks and a call to pause, IT leaders are reaching out to institutions, consulting firms, and attorneys across the globe to get advice on the path forward. 

“The recent cautionary remarks of tech CEOs such as Elon Musk about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence demonstrate that we are not doing enough to mitigate the consequences of our innovation,” says Atti Riazi, SVP and CIO of Hearst. “It is our duty as innovators to innovate responsibly and to understand the implications of technology on human life, society, and culture.”

That sentiment is echoed by many IT leaders, who believe innovation in a free market society is inevitable and should be encouraged, especially in this era of digital transformation — but only with the right rules and regulations in place to prevent corporate catastrophe or worse.

“I agree a pause may be appropriate for some industries or certain high-stake use cases but in many other situations we should be pushing ahead and exploring at speed what opportunities these tools provide,” says Bob McCowan, CIO at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

“Many board members are questioning if these technologies should be adopted or are they going to create too many risks?” McCowan adds. “I see it as both. Ignore it or shut it down and you will be missing out on significant opportunity, but giving unfettered access [to employees] without controls in place could also put your organization at risk.”

While AI tools have been in use for years, the recent release of ChatGPT to the masses has stirred up considerably more controversy, giving many CIOs — and their boards — pause on how to proceed. Some CIOs take the risks to industry — and humanity — very seriously.

“Every day, I worry about this more,” says Steve Randich, CIO of The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a key regulatory agency that reports to the SEC.

Randich notes a graph he saw recently that states that the ‘mental’ capacity of an AI program just exceeded that of a mouse and in 10 years will exceed the capacity of all of humankind. “Consider me concerned, especially if the AI programs can be influenced by bad actors and are able to hack, such as at nuclear codes,” he says.

George Westerman, a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, says executives at enterprises across the globe are reaching out for advice from MIT Sloan and other institutions about the ethics, risks, and potential liabilities of using generative AI. Still, Westerman believes most CIOs have already engaged with their top executives and board of directors and that generative AI itself imposes no new legal liabilities that corporations and their executives don’t abide today.

“I would expect that just like all other officers of companies that there’s [legal] coverage there for your official duties,” Westerman says of CIOs’ personal legal exposure to AI fallout, noting the exception of using the technology inappropriately for personal gain.

Playing catchup on generative AI

Meanwhile, the release of ChatGPT has rattled regulatory oversight efforts. The EU had planned to enact its AI Act last month but opted to stall after ChatGPT was released given that many were concerned the policies would be outdated before going into effect. And as the European Commission and its related governing bodies work to sort out the implications of generative AI, company executives in Europe and the US are taking the warning bells seriously.

“As AI becomes a key part of our landscape and narrow AI turns into general AI — who becomes liable? The heads of technology, the inanimate machine models? The human interveners ratifying/changing training models? The technology is moving fast, but the controls and ethics around it are not,” says Adriana Karaboutis, group chief information and digital officer at National Grid, which is based in the UK but operates in the northeast US as well.

“There is a catchup game here. To this end and in the meantime managing AI in the enterprise lies with CxOs that oversee corporate and organizational risk. CTO/CIO/CTO/CDO/CISOs are no longer the owners of information risk” given the rise of AI, the CIDO maintains. “IT relies on the CEO and all CxOs, which means corporate culture and awareness to the huge benefits of AI as well as the risks must be owned.”

Stockholm-based telecom Ericsson sees huge upside in generative AI and is investing in creating multiple generative AI models, including large language models, says Rickard Wieselfors, vice president and head of enterprise automation and AI at Ericsson.

“There is a sound self-criticism within the AI industry and we are taking responsible AI very seriously,” he says. “There are multiple questions without answer in terms of intellectual property rights to text or source code used in the training. Furthermore, data leakage in querying the models, bias, factual mistakes, lack of completeness, granularity or lack of model accuracy certainly limits what you can use the models for.

“With great capability comes great responsibility and we support and participate in the current spirit of self-criticism and philosophical reflections on what AI could bring to the world,” Wieselfors says.

Some CIOs, such as Choice Hotels’ Brian Kirkland, are monitoring the technology but do not think generative AI is fully ready for commercial use.

“I do believe it is important for industry to make sure that they are aware of the risk, reward, and impact of using generative AI technologies, like ChatGPT. There are risks to data ownership and generated content that must be understood and managed to avoid negative impacts to the company,” Kirkland says. “At the same time, there is a lot of upside and opportunity to consider. The upside will be significant when there is an ability to safely and securely merge a private data set with the public data in those systems.

“There is going to be a dramatic change in how AI and machine learning enable business value through everything from generated AI content to complex and meaningful business analytics and decision making,” the Choice Hotels CIO says.

No one is suggesting a total hold on such a powerful and life changing technology.

In a recent Gartner poll of more than 2,500 executives, 45% indicated that attention around ChatGPT has caused them to increase their AI investments. More than 70% maintain their enterprise is currently exploring generative AI and 19% have pilots or production use under way, with projects from companies such as Unilever and CarMax already showing promise.

At the MIT Sloan CIO conference starting May 15, Irving Wladawsky-Berger will host a panel on the potential risks and rewards of entering generative AI waters. Recently, he hosted a pre-conference discussion on the technology.

“We’re all excited about generative AI today,” said the former longtime IBM researcher and current affiliate researcher at MIT Sloan, citing major advances in genomics expected due to AI.

But Wladawsky-Berger noted that the due diligence required of those who adopt the technology will not be a simple task. “It just takes so much work,” he said. “[We must] figure out what works, what is safe, and what trials to do. That’s the part that takes time.”

Another CIO on the panel, Wafaa Mamilli, chief digital and technology officer at Zoetis, said generative AI is giving pharmaceutical companies increased confidence of curing chronic human illnesses.

“Because of the advances of generative AI technologies and computing power on genetic research, there are now trials in the US and outside of the US, Japan, and Europe that are targeting to cure diabetes,” she said.

Guardrails and guidelines: Generative AI essentials

Wall Street has more than taken notice of the industry’s swift embrace of generative AI. According to IDC, 2022 was a record-breaking year for investments in generative AI startups, with equity funding exceeding $2.6 billion.

“Whether it is content creation with Jasper.ai, image creation with Midjourney, or text processing with Azure OpenAI services, there is a generative AI foundation model to boost various aspects of your business,” according to one of several recent IDC reports on generative AI.

And CIOs already have the means of putting guardrails in place to securely move forward with generative AI pilots, Regeneron’s McCowan notes.

“It’s of critical importance that you have policy and guidelines to manage access and behaviors of those that plan to use the technologies and to remind your staff to protect intellectual property, PII [Personable Identifiable Information], as well as reiterating that what gets shared may become public,” McCowan says.

“Get your innovators and your lawyers together to find a risk-based model of using these tools and be clear what data you may expose, and what rights you have to the output from these solutions,” he says. “Start using the technologies with less risky use cases and learn from each iteration. Get started or you will lose out.”

Forrester Research analyst David Truog notes that AI leaders are right to put the warning label on generative AI before enterprises begin pilots and using generative AI in production. But he too is confident it can be done.   

“I don’t think stopping or pausing AI is the right path,” Truog says. “The more pragmatic and constructive path is to be judicious in selecting use cases where specialized AIs can help, embed thoughtful guardrails, and have an intentional air-gapping strategy. That would be a starting point.”

One DevOps IT chief at a consulting firm points to several ways CIOs may mitigate risk when using generative AI, including thinking like a venture capitalist; clearly understanding the technology’s value; determining ethical and legal considerations in advance of testing; experimenting, but not rushing into investments; and considering the implications from the customer point of view.

“Smart CIOs will form oversight committees or partner with outside consultants who can guide the organization through the implementation and help set up guidelines to promote responsible use,” says Rod Cope, CTO at Minneapolis-based Perforce.  “While investing in AI provides tremendous value for the enterprise, implementing it into your tech stack requires thoughtful consideration to protect you, your organization, and your customers.”

While the rise of generative AI will certainly impact human jobs, some IT leaders, such as Ed Fox, CTO at managed services provider MetTel, believe the fallout may be exaggerated, although everyone will likely have to adapt or fall behind.

“Some people will lose jobs during this awakening of generative AI but not to the extent some are forecasting,” Fox says. “Those of us that don’t embrace the real-time encyclopedia will be passed by.”

Still, if there’s one theme for certain it’s that for most CIOs proceeding with caution is the best path forward. So too is getting involved.

CIOs must strike a balance between “strict regulations that stifle innovation and guidelines to ensure that AI is developed and used responsibly,” says Tom Richer, general manager of Wipro’s Google Business Group, noting he is collaborating with his alma mater, Cornell, and its AI Initiative, to proceed prudently.

“It’s vital for CIOs and IT executives to be aware of the potential risks and benefits of generative AI and to work with experts in the field to develop responsible strategies for its use,” Richer says. “This collaboration needs to involve universities, big tech, think tanks, and government research centers to develop best practices and guidelines for the development and deployment of AI technologies.”

Artificial Intelligence, IT Leadership

As campus networks continue to evolve, CIOs face a new hurdle in ensuring top-notch security measures. The importance of Wi-Fi technology cannot be understated as visitors and employees rely on it for seamless connectivity while on campus. However, CIOs and their teams are challenged with not only addressing security threats but also troubleshooting an extensive network of personal devices. Protecting enterprise environments has never been more necessary or intricate.

According to a 2021 report by Positive Technologies, 97% of enterprise Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to attack. The most common vulnerabilities include weak passwords, unpatched software, and the use of insecure protocols.

In a survey of IT professionals conducted by Cybersecurity Insiders in 2020, 84% reported that their organizations had experienced a WiFi-related security breach in the previous 12 months. The same survey found that 60% of organizations do not use encryption to protect Wi-Fi communications, and 53% do not use secure passwords.

The 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 26% of data breaches involved the use of stolen credentials, which can be obtained through WiFi-related attacks such as phishing or man-in-the-middle attacks.

Overall, these statistics highlight the importance of taking Wi-Fi security seriously in enterprise environments and implementing strong security measures to protect against potential risks.

Thankfully, Passpoint can address some of the top challenges IT leaders are facing today by enhancing security and automatizing time-consuming Wi-Fi management processes.

What is Passpoint?

Passpoint is based on the IEEE 802.11u standard and it is the brand for the Hotspot 2.0 certification program, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint®, operated by the Wi-Fi Alliance. It is an industry-wide solution that streamlines Wi-Fi access and eliminates the need for users to find and authenticate a network each time they visit.

Passpoint grants instant, secure Wi-Fi access to users after once-in-a-lifetime provisioning of the Passpoint profile in their mobile device. Then, the enabled devices automatically connect to the organization’s network whenever they arrive at any campus.

Passpoint also enhances security measures without compromising the onboarding process. It uses 802.1X for user authentication and, specifically, the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)-TLS, which supports certificate-basedauthentication —the gold standard of authentication— reducing the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches.

Finally, Passpoint has the ability to support emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), that are expected to drive the next wave of digital transformation and will require a secure and seamless network infrastructure.

Enabling hybrid work practices

The practice of bringing your own device (BYOD) has been around for years in office spaces and the shift to hybrid work around the world has accelerated the trend. However, employees and visitors face several problems when connecting to traditional enterprise Wi-Fi, such as needing or losing a password, losing connectivity when logging back into a laptop, or onboarding personal devices into the network, thus putting the organization’s network at risk.

The aforementioned onboarding issues can result in a great deal of time wasted—both by users trying to resolve the issues and IT teams trying to help. Fortunately, Passpoint solves these onboarding issues by supercharging the Wi-Fi security and experience in this new highly mobile and agile working environment.

IT teams can quickly onboard all “unmanaged” devices, with peace of mind. By automating Wi-Fi onboarding in a secure way, Passpoint can have a positive impact on IT teams’ morale through improving user satisfaction and increasing productivity, as employees are not wasting time trying to connect to Wi-Fi or troubleshoot connection issues.

Focusing on digital transformation

In today’s fast-paced tech world, it can be overwhelming for CIOs and their teams to stay on top of the latest cloud technologies, virtual reality, and machine learning advancements. They are constantly learning and mastering new skills just to keep up.

By embracing Passpoint, CIOs can safeguard company data while reducing the burdensome tasks of their IT team that can work more efficiently and happily. This way, CIOs can devote their attention to defining and executing higher-value strategic initiatives, aligning their efforts with business objectives.

It is imperative for CIOs to prioritize Passpoint adoption if they wish to expedite their digital transformation journey and prepare their organization for the future.

To find out how Cloud4Wi can upgrade your enterprise Wi-Fi to Passpoint, click here.


“You can never drive the car looking through the rearview mirror,” says Joe Locandro, CIO of Fletcher Building, one of Australasia’s largest building materials supplier. “As CIO, you have to keep looking ahead and feel comfortable in backing yourself. That’s the difference between being CIO and an IT manager—one is responsible for getting things done, the other for a vision and making a difference.”

Fletcher Building is an $NZ8 billion organization made up of more than 30 companies that range from manufacturing, mining aggregates, road making, and more, and when it was time to digitally transform and better enable a data-driven and platforms-based business, Locandro’s forward-thinking philosophy was integral in the company’s efforts to succeed.

Creating the right platform

In the year he’s been CIO, Locandro has moved quickly to simplify and streamline the IT set-up around such a complex business. “If you think about the last century, companies were built point to point,” he says. “You end up with a spaghetti tree built out of mergers and acquisitions and it becomes costly. Most companies will put in SAP and a version for each country and then customize it. We’re doing one global instance moving from 17 instances to one. Furthermore, we’re busy moving from 750 Edge systems to 350.”

Fletcher Building’s visionary adoption of a cutting-edge ERP platform is on track to revolutionize its digital infrastructure and serve as a launchpad for innovation across the group. The Digital@Fletchers program consolidates these 17 unique ERP instances and approximately 350 interfacing satellite systems into a single, unified ERP core. This harmonized approach, with 80% commonality and 20% local configuration, simplifies upgrades while significantly reducing costs.

The transformational power of this unified ERP arrangement also allows businesses within the Fletcher Group to build on a solid foundation, driving synergies and fostering innovation. By streamlining processes and eliminating almost half of the satellite systems, the new ERP landscape empowers Fletcher companies to focus on developing novel solutions and accelerating growth using the new ERP Core system.

“When it comes to a platform-based business, you can plug and play and get synergies so the whole group can take advantage of your customized e-commerce platform, data and analytics platform, and safety platform,” he says. “That’s why we’re moving into a platforms-based business, and as we do new mergers and acquisitions, we plug them into the system. We run a federated model, and as a group IT function, we determine what is core, what is standard, and then we allow the businesses the freedom to innovate on top of them. We get the synergies of scale, and the flexibility and agility of innovation.”

Making a difference

Fletcher Building is essentially a vertically integrated building company with specific technical challenges, and, in particular, Locandro sees the biggest problem for aspiring CIOs is a lack of cohesion with the business, merely having technical people who can’t align a strategy to achieve a business outcome. There must be an ability to deal with ambiguity and map out a path in order to get there by the time the tech matures, he says. And in an organization of this size, challenges and threats appear every day.

Broadly speaking, however, three pillars drive the company forward. One is about gathering operational efficiency in order to reduce the cost to serve, digitize, and automate inefficient processes. The second revolves around growing customer intimacy, and, to this end, Fletcher is developing CRM systems and other more customer-facing applications. “We want to get intimate, to use analytics and search engines to build a persona and profile,” he says. “A new ERP system will allow us to see a customer who deals with us end to end rather than in their disparate silos. We focus on using digital apps together with the rest of it to help increase our net promoter score.”

And the third, simply put, centers on breakthrough innovation. Its scale and scope illustrate how tech innovation delivers paradigm shifts in how the business operates, from its use of drones to survey material stockpiles and the integrity of road surfaces, to using AI to look at concrete and cement mixtures to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as it’s applications in safety systems to predict preventable injuries. There’s also innovation in operationally efficient call centers, and state-of-the-art Google hubs and analytics to develop intelligent decisions to feed back into the ERP systems. “We’re also doing IOT sensors in factories to do health checks and predictive maintenance before machines break down,” he says. “With 5G tech, we can put it into real-time feeds.”

Locandro is confident he can use his global experience to turn such highly ambitious goals into reality. “No matter where I work, it’s all about transformation and leaving a legacy behind, and being prepared to do the hard yards into a new evolution,” he says. “Industrial and manufacturing businesses have a reputation for being laggards in digitization, but we’re turning that around.”

CIO, Digital Transformation, ERP Systems, IT Leadership

Customer experience (CX) has always been vital for the success of any business — and the pandemic has only reinforced its importance. Research from global management consulting company McKinsey shows that organizations enhancing CX can boost sales by up to 7% and profitability by 1% to 2%, while improving overall shareholder returns by 7% to 10%.

And with the horizon for the global economy remaining uncertain, CX is increasingly being viewed as a key strategic differentiator as enterprises face increased pressure to keep top lines growing against economic headwinds, according to Nikhil Sethi, partner at KPMG India.

“Post COVID-19, the demand for premium products and services is high while the number of buyers is small. With volumes slipping for value brands, they need to fight for share again. Customer experience — at both the consumer and customer level — is a significant differentiator to pull share,” Sethi says.

With a positive CX linked directly to revenue growth, brand advocacy, and customer retention and loyalty, it’s only logical that enterprises are striving to take their CX strategies to the next level. Elevating CX, however, involves all the key facets of a business — its people, processes, and technology. Few executives are situated as well as the CIO to have a widespread impact.

Here’s how IT leaders in the APAC region are leveraging these three pillars to build a robust customer experience strategy for their enterprises.

Aligning on a customer-focused culture

While customer experience initiatives are ultimately outward-facing by nature, to succeed, any CX strategy must first start from within. Making the shift to a customer-centric culture, in which employees buy in to supporting the overall CX vision and strategy, is essential to enhancing the experience of an organization’s customers.

“CX is here to stay. The biggest differentiator will be if the organization culture is ready to accept it and deliver on it,” says Sethi, who adds that business-IT alignment is another key factor in ensuring CX success.

“The first alignment IT leaders need to have is with business on the experience the organization agrees to deliver, and then leverage existing investments — or make new ones — to orchestrate that,” he says.

Jimmy Lee, CIO of Perth, Australia-based Cedar Woods Properties, agrees that technology leaders must work to bridge the gap between the IT department and other strategic business units that focus on CX.

“CIOs need to engage with the business, particularly marketing, sales, and operations to make sure that the business is supported, aware of the latest technologies and have the expertise to help execute the technology,” he says. “CIOs also need to influence the executive team and board of directors to make sure that they can see the value of CX.”

For Yogesh Pasrija, group manager of IT at Toyota Material Handling India, convincing the top management on CX is the easier part. “Our company has a customer-first approach, and this value is shared by everyone across the organization. This makes it easier for us to take up CX with the leadership.”

Where he goes the extra mile is in upskilling employees. “Our internal employees are also a subset of customers, and we need to ensure they are satisfied. Regular certification courses for our service engineers enable them to pinpoint any issue at the customer’s end in the first visit, which goes a long way in improving customer satisfaction and confidence. We have regular training sessions for our customers’ engineers also to mitigate issues at their ends,” he says.

Collaborating with other lines of business, Lee consistently reviews the company’s sales practices and systems to align with the broader customer journey and streamline the marketing to sales conversion process. “We also deepen the integration between our CRM and marketing systems to ensure that sales and marketing are aligned on the customer lifecycle stage,” he says.

Tuning processes and tech for improved CX

The delivery of CX is increasingly supported by digital workflows, be it applications or enterprise systems. Re-alignment of tech workflows to CX delivery is key, which is often difficult on legacy systems. IT leaders, therefore, must re-work existing processes to enable delivery of the right experience to the right person at the right time.

“Being a Japanese company, we believe in the philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement. We are, therefore, continuously improving existing processes and workflows so that they deliver better customer experience,” says Pasrija, who recently upgraded the organization’s knowledge management system with valuable content around the company policies, products, and processes that can now be accessed by employees from any location. He has also recently developed a mobile app that provides companywide visibility into inventory levels on employees’ handheld devices.

One of the bedrocks of improving CX in the digital world is customer journey mapping. Knowing what customers feel and experience at various stages of the sales cycle can inform a company how to design its online and in-person processes and systems to lead to better customer outcomes. Cutting-edge technology plays a vital role in achieving this.

“Collecting data on current customers ensures we know our demographics. Understanding at a detailed level how, and how often, customers interact with our digital assets helps us to focus cost and effort to the right areas,” says Lee, who leverages marketing automation tools to learn about customer interactions with his company’s systems and digital marketing material for customizing the marketing to the lifecycle stage.

“Use of real-time integration between our real estate inventory system and our project websites shows customers what is currently selling in projects,” he says.

Lee has redesigned all project websites so there is one CX strategy for all projects, meaning that customers do not have different and confusing experiences when browsing across projects. “We have tried to move to omnichannel experiences by creating a solid digital platform that is always present but, in our industry, supplemented by a physical presence, which is always going to be required,” he says.

To ensure hyperpersonalization, Rajat Bansal, CTO of India-based digital skill games company Games24x7, is leveraging state-of-the-art IT.

“Games24x7 has a highly scalable gaming infrastructure that serves more than 100 million registered users across platforms. We believe that the most important thing is to understand the users as early as possible in their gaming lifecycle. The personalization journey begins from the moment a user enters the game. When players are served offers based on their profiles and preferences, our data science models help us identify their inclinations and preferences,” he says.

“We leverage AI, ML, data science, and analytics to offer a hyperpersonalized, immersive, and entertaining gameplay experience to our users at every stage of their gaming journey by building the right models to analyse user behaviour, customize gameplay, and provide an intuitive and safe experience,” Bansal says.

That safety is also essential, Lee adds, when it comes using customers’ data to better serve them.

“CIOs need to make sure that the business understands the governance around data, which is the oil for CX, and how to manage it, so that the company remains safe and secure, whilst giving the business the framework to operate in order to meet the mission,” he says.

With that proper governance foundation in place, companies will be securely positioned to leverage the kinds of technologies that can take an organization’s CX to the next level, including “generative AI tools to converse with customers, API-led integration tools to streamline the flow of information, and leading-edge data and analytics to make information timely and accurate,” says Lee.

Digital Transformation, Employee Experience

Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, is dominating board agendas at almost every public and private sector organisation. Underpinning the actions that come from ESG are significant concerns about the environment. Organisations are looking for ways to reduce greenhouse emissions, energy use and expenditure, drive towards ambitious sustainability goals, and make a positive social impact. Many are looking to align with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While the SDGs are helpful, many organisations find it challenging to know where to start. The key is to find a project or activity where the organisation can make a meaningful impact. This doesn’t have to be a major project but rather one that makes a sustainable difference. This is where technology has a significant role to play. New technologies are efficient and can make a substantial difference to energy use and carbon emissions.

Naveen Shettar, Director of Services at Logicalis Australia, explains: “Older technologies can use much more energy and result in greater carbon emissions than newer technology. Working with a service provider that tracks this is critical. This is why Logicalis measures our service against a sustainability score. It gives full transparency to the customer and to our operational teams so we can continually improve.”

Logicalis’ Global CIO report for 2023 found that 49% of CIOs look at carbon output, sustainability and energy efficiency when choosing new Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and suppliers. And 20% say this is an important consideration when choosing new partners. Choosing technology partners that simplify these needs is a critical step on the road towards meeting ESG goals.

Technology leaders have a significant role to play in choosing technology that uses less energy and reduces carbon emissions. However, that choice of technology should not just focus on the procurement process. Technology leaders must start looking at the entire lifecycle of the tools they acquire and ensure they collect data so they can measure progress towards their stated ESG goals.  

As well as choosing the best, most environmentally friendly infrastructure technology, CIOs can leverage new and existing efficiencies. For example, right-sized computer resources can be deployed and then scaled up and down as needed to meet demand. The funding and procurement of this technology can also boost ESG outcomes by partnering with organisations that take a lifecycle view of technology acquisition, use, maintenance and disposal. Logicalis Australia customers, through a partnership with Quadrent, can reap the benefits of this approach.

“Australia generates 21.9 kilos of e-waste per capita per year. The global average is one third of that. We are one of the worst offenders in the world. The Quadrent Green Lease initiative ensures we manage technology assets at the end of their life in a corporate environment in line with our sustainability hierarchy of repurpose, refurbish, recycle and responsibly dispose (if needed). Additionally, up to 20% of the returned high-quality devices can then be donated to digital inclusion initiatives that improve digital equity for Australians in need,” says Simon Cubbin, the General Manager at Quadrent.

This initiative aligns with the UN’s SDGs and is independently assured by PwC to ensure it delivers the outcomes organisations demand. The primary goal is to create a circular economy that ensures devices are used for as long as possible and are responsibly disposed of when they reach the end of their life.

The Quadrent Green Lease is a straightforward entry point for organisations to start on their ESG journey as the assurance, logistics and reporting is already done for them.

As well as ensuring many devices receive a second life outside of the organisation, the Quadrent Green Lease program supports digital inclusion. While the E in ESG often garners the most attention, Quadrent allocates up to 20% of returned devices to digital inclusion initiatives that improve digital access and literacy for children in need. When organisations sign up to the Quadrent Green Lease with the Digital Inclusion option, children are ensured of a learning device and access to the internet, as well as technical support and knowledge on how to make the most of the technology they have.

While there is no shortage of intent from organisations to make a difference, the challenge comes with finding the time to administer the process, adding extra workload and complexity to already busy teams. Logicalis Australia simplifies those challenges so organisations can focus on their core business and fulfil their ESG goals and aspirations.

“Today’s technology leaders must raise the conversation above technical details and focus on business goals. ESG requires transparency from all service providers and a laser-like focus on supply chains to ensure every device that enters the organisation has a thoughtfully considered lifecycle that starts with sourcing and ends at disposal,” says Shettar.

Logicalis, as one of the world’s leading managed service providers, understands the importance of sustainable technology. It has invested in tools, partnerships and technology that enable its team to focus on sustainability goals for itself and all its customers. This includes reporting on energy use and carbon emissions from its data centres and from the services it provides. Its partnership with Quadrent’s Green Lease initiative ensures the entire technology lifecycle for its clients is managed with a sustainability focus.

To find out more, or speak to someone about how you can start achieving sustainable success, visit: https://www.au.logicalis.com/powering-green-revolution

Green IT

Industry body IT Professionals New Zealand has the election year in its sights as it aims to grow the capability of people in tech at all levels—from those entering the industry to new CIOs.

Formerly known as the New Zealand Computer Society, ITP has been operating for 65 years, and is focused on skills, talent and capability of those who work in the digital technology industry.

The organisation’s CEO, Victoria MacLennan, says ITP is working “to support both industry growth and maturity, and we work really closely with education providers to ensure their courses are grounded in industry needs, and are attractive to people who want to learn digital technology skills.”

The organisation has around 5,000 members and 2,5000 student members, and MacLennan is working to open membership to anyone who works in, or aspires to work in, the digital technology industry “because we want it to be an open, broad, supportive organisation,” she says.

So her ultimate goal is to change the face of the industry. “I want to make it easier for people to choose careers working with digital technology; easier for people we don’t usually see in the industry—women, Māori, Pasifika, people with disabilities—to take advantage of how awesome it is and to find that the environment is supportive, inclusive, and they can study and work here without facing discrimination.”

To support new CIOs and aspiring CIOs, ITP is launching its ‘How to be an effective CIO’ course, now in its fourth year. MacLennan said the training came about when a group of experienced CIOs, who went on to run the course, were looking at succession planning challenges for themselves and their own organisations, and wondered where the next cohort of CIOs was coming from.

“They got together to collaborate and design a program to help those who aspire to be a CIO, or they find themselves newly appointed into the role, looking for that kind of grounding that they need to understand how they take that step,” she says.

The 12-week course has a mixture of online and in-person sessions, with up to 20 participants working together in groups, and it’s run in chunks so people don’t have to give up a whole week to attend.

“I’m told all the time by people who’ve been through the course that they still communicate with their cohort,” says MacLennan. “They get together and they’ve got a really good peer support framework.”

The role of CIO has evolved, and MacLennan says people from all sorts of backgrounds are now taking up these positions.

“Times have changed, as we know, and we’re no longer in a world where a CIO is the most technical person who’s been promoted into that role,” she says. “An effective, modern-day CIO needs to be a people leader as much as a technology leader. They need great communication skills and a strong understanding of governance, strategy and how to make decisions for today while focusing on the future. When you’re making that step from being an operational, hands-on tools person to a strategic role like a CIO, how you make those decisions is a unique skill.”

CIOs also need a good grounding in risk,cybersecurity, as well as an understanding of emerging technology and an ability to work with boards and senior leadership.

The other way ITP supports New Zealand’s CIO community is by offering mentoring. “There are many good, really effective CIOs who are mentors,” she says. “They offer their time to support aspiring CIOs or those new to the role. So, for our members, there’s a good process to match you with someone who can help with your career, aspirations, and goals.”

Election year opportunities

ITP also plays a role lobbying Government on behalf of the industry to ensure policy and investment settings include digital technology, “It’s easy for them to forget about us and forget that digital skills are something that are required not only for digital technology industry organisations, but for every organisation that employs people in their IT departments,” she says.

With the NZ General Election coming up in October, MacLennan is pushing hard to remind the Government of the changes the industry wants to see.

“The Government is probably the largest employer of digital technology capability in New Zealand, and uses a mixture of permanent employment and contractors, she says. “But a lot of the challenges we have with the workforce and management of the workforce, particularly in Wellington, comes from the fact that Government suck everyone up.”

She adds that the Government needs to “get their own house in order as an employer and use the workforce and the space more effectively” by using things like the SFIA framework, which has become the globally accepted common language for the skills and competencies for the digital world, and which every organisation in New Zealand can use.

“If you join the government as a policy analyst, there’s really clear roles, responsibilities, and career progressions,” she says. “None of that is applied in a digital technology role context.”

The other area ITP is looking to change is in the education space.

“It’s hard for people to choose a digital technology career and easy for a 17-year-old to follow a construction career path line that’s all mapped out,” she says.  “We haven’t mapped it out to make it easy for digital technology. There are something like seven types of bachelor’s degrees offered across the Te Pūkenga network [the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology], for example, which are all digital technology related. We’ve got to find easier ways of making it possible for people to choose and be less confusing.”

And while it might be a bridge too far for the Government or the Opposition, MacLennan is also keen for procurement to be used as a lever with the private sector, so more investment is made in building new capability.

She points out that there is power in procurement and that it’s one way to get the private sector to look at things differently.

Education Industry, Government, IT Leadership, Technology Industry

Over 90 wildfires ravaged Spain’s Asturias principality in March this year. Though not as cold and wet as northern Europe, March is still the tail end of winter in northwest Spain, a region not typically considered a tinder box. But the climate emergency is steadily changing that.

But Spain’s predicament isn’t unique. Across the world, climate change has bitten hard into the economies of tech-centric California, again due to wildfires. Australia and Pakistan have seen communities wrecked by large-scale flooding and continual rain, while in 2022, Europe had its hottest summer on record.

There is a need and realization by the business world to be more environmentally sustainable since organizations are seeing an impact on the bottom line as a direct result of climate change. So the CIO, the technologies they deploy, and the partnerships they form are essential to the future of a more environmentally sustainable way of doing business.

A question of time

Thomas Kiessling, CTO with Siemens Smart Infrastructure, part of the German engineering and technology conglomerate that makes trains, electrical equipment, traffic control systems, and more, understands that time is running out. His concerns are backed up by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which on March 20, 2023, said it’s unlikely the world will keep to its Paris Climate Accord promises.

And if the world’s temperatures rise by or above 1.5 degrees Celsius, businesses will feel further impacts to their bottom line, including increased supply-chain issues on a network already overstretched and fragile. Food and water insecurity will increase, and energy systems, housing stock, insurance, and currency markets will all become more volatile—a worrying set of scenarios for business leaders and boards.

CIO enablement

Historically, CIOs have been vital enablers during times of major change, championing e-commerce, digital transformation or agile ways of working. Organizations responding to the climate emergency are, therefore, calling on those enablement skills to mitigate the environmental impact of the business.

Key to this is a greater understanding of business operations and their production of CO2, or use of unsustainable practices and resources. As with most business challenges, data is instrumental. “Like anything, the hard work is the initial assessment,” says CGI director of business consulting and CIO advisor Sean Sadler. “From a technology perspective, you need to look at the infrastructure, where it’s applied, how much energy it draws, and then how it fits into the overall sustainability scheme.” 

CIOs who create data cultures across organizations enable not only sustainable business processes but also reduce reliance on consultancies, according to IDC. “Organizations with the most mature environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies are increasingly turning to software platforms to meet their data management and reporting needs,” says Amy Cravens, IDC research manager, ESG Reporting and Management Technologies. “This represents an important transition toward independent ESG program management and away from dependence on ESG consultants and service providers. Software platforms will also play an essential role in an organization’s ESG maturity journey. These platforms will support organizations from early-stage data gathering and materiality assessments through sustainable business strategy enablement and every step in between.”

Sadler, who has led technology in healthcare, veterinary services, media firms, and technology suppliers, says consultancies and systems integrators should be considered as part of a CIO’s sustainability plans. Their deep connections to a variety of vendors, skills, experience and templates will be highly useful. “It can often help with the collaboration with other parts of the business, like finance and procurement as you have a more holistic approach,” he says.

The IDC survey further finds that the manufacturing sector is leading the maturity of ESG strategies, followed by the services sector, indicative, perhaps, of industries with the most challenging sustainability demands to get on the front foot.

CIOs in organizations already with ESG maturity adopt data management, ESG reporting, and risk tools. In the 2022 Digital Leadership Report by international staffing and CIO recruitment firm Nash Squared, 70% of business technology leaders said that technology plays a crucial part in sustainability.

“CIOs are in a great position to demonstrate their business acumen,” says Sadler. “They can cut costs and generate additional revenue streams.” And DXC Technology director and GM Carl Kinson says IT is now central to cost reduction, while high inflation and rising energy costs make CIOs and organizations assess their energy spending in a level of detail not seen for a long time. This will have a knock-on environmental benefit. Kinson says CIOs are looking to extract greater value from enterprise cloud computing estates, application workloads, system code, and even the use or return of on-premise technology in order to reduce energy costs.

“We’re working with clients to set carbon budgets for each stakeholder to make them accountable, which is a great way to make sure all areas of the business are doing their bit to be more sustainable,” says Sadler.

Great expectations

Falling short of corporate sustainability goals will not only upset the board but exacerbate the search for skills CIOs face, which, in turn, complicates strategies to digitize the business.

Becoming an environmentally sustainable business is core to the purpose of a modern organization and its ability to recruit and retain today’s technology talent.

Climate urgency also impacts CIOs themselves in their employment decisions, too. “I would need to understand the sustainability angles of an organization,” says James Holmes, CIO with The North of England P&I Association, a shipping insurance firm. Business advisory firm McKinsey also finds that 83% of C-suite executives and investment professionals believe that organizational ESG programs will contribute to an increase in shareholder value in the next five years. And the Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report adds that due to the urgent global move to integrate sustainability into core business operations and the customer proposition, it’s important that digital leaders have what it calls a dual lens on sustainability.

Part of that increased shareholder value will be to ensure the business is able to meet the evolving regulations surrounding environmental sustainability. For CIOs in Europe, the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation was adopted in April 2022, and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) secured a majority in the European Parliament in November 2022. California also introduced environmental regulations in September 2022, and other US states are likely to follow.

“Regulation can be pro-growth,” Chi Onwurah, shadow business minister in the UK Parliament and a former technologist, recently said at an open-source technology conference. “Good regulations create a virtuous circle as more people trust the system.”

CIOs and IT leadership, whether in the UK or not, are integral to make organizations more environmentally sustainable in order to help stave off environmental collapse. No vertical market can operate effectively during an ongoing environmental emergency unless a technological response based on collated data is enacted and supported across the organization.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, CIOs and IT leaders enabled new ways of adapting to change, and these need to continue as environmentally sustainable business processes become greater priorities.

CIO, Green IT, IT Leadership

Faced with a long-running shortage of experienced professional developers, enterprise IT leaders have been exploring fresh ways of unlocking software development talent by training up non-IT staff and deploying tools that enable even business users to build or customize applications to suit their needs.

A broad spectrum of tools has arisen to facilitate software development in the enterprise, from no-code platforms like Bubble and low-code drag-and-drop tools, both stand-alone and integrated into enterprise applications, to intelligent tools that use machine learning to suggest lines of code to professional developers as they work.

Sales of all three of these categories of tools are growing. IDC forecasts that sales of no-code platforms will grow at an annual rate of 13.9% through 2026, with sales of low-code platforms growing at 14.1%, and those of intelligent developer technologies roaring ahead at 31.3%. This last category has received a boost as platform vendors explore the potential of generative AI models such as ChatGPT to create boilerplate application skeletons on which developers can hang their own business logic — or even turn human-readable requirements into machine-readable code.

The predictions about the future of software development are contained in IDC’s “Worldwide Low-Code, No-Code and Intelligent Developer Technologies Forecast, 2022-2026” report.

Its author, Michele Rosen, says the market for intelligent developer tools has become even more interesting since she finished writing it, now that some of those tools — such as Salesforce’s Einstein GPT or Microsoft’s GPT-based Copilot — have become public, although even before that, products such as OutSystems’ AI Mentor were offering similar functions.

Autocomplete on steroids

“Think of them as boilerplate writers, or autocomplete on steroids,” Rosen says. “They are tools used by someone who knows how to do this themselves, who may be using them to supplement their knowledge about a technology, library, or framework they haven’t worked with before, or to avoid looking up a few lines of code on Stack Overflow.”

Other uses for them might involve typing a few words as a prompt to generate the 20 lines of boilerplate needed to get a project started. “It’s really just a force multiplier, an accelerator,” she says.

Low-code and no-code platforms, on the other hand, typically adopt a drag-and-drop metaphor rather than a command-line interface, and that shows up in the way line-of-business developers think about the problems they’re solving too.

Users without a technical background will typically consider an app from the user interface inwards, she says: “That’s just the mentality that most people approach computing with.” If they are provided with UI components they can arrange to create the user interface, and then also components that can be assembled into business logic and even integrate with third party systems, then, in a sense, no-code and low-code development for the non-technical developer becomes a component based experience, she adds.

That componentization is key, says Andrew Peterson, CTO of executive search firm Riviera Partners, a longtime user of low-code development tools.

“One of the reasons I like low-code is because certain parts of your application are commoditized,” he says. “If I can get those things off-the-shelf, then I can focus on building the things that really add value, that are important to my particular business: the business logic, the innovation, the competitive advantages. Then I have a quicker time to market.”

But it’s not just about making life easier for the coders, whether they’re in the IT department or elsewhere. A good low-code or no-code platform will also help the CIO, says Rosen.

Governance guidelines

“If I had to tell someone looking to buy a no-code or a low-code tool what to look for to tell whether that vendor is serious about helping them build a culture of low-code/no-code development, it would be controls to help them set up governance around who can use the tools and what the tools can be used for,” says Rosen.

In some ways, governance around low-code tools is no different than for other software development tools, says Nick Mates, VP of operations and technology at Lendr, an online business-to-business loan platform. “We treat a low-code application as if it was a traditional code application,” he says. “It should follow the same governance lifecycles, from a business analyst’s desk to a developer’s desk to a QA desk to deployment.”

But with code-facilitating tools such as these, enterprises must also set up governance around which tools are best used for which use cases, Rosen says, noting that many organizations have multiple such tools in operation in house. Organizations with the most experience leveraging low-code and no-code tools have also set up centers of excellence (CoEs) to advise lines of business on which tool to use and when, she says. The CoEs also provide support by coding more complex interactions and integrations that low-code development tools or their users can’t handle, providing reusable components that line-of-business developers can access, and curating them in a marketplace or code repository.

One thing that plays into deciding the right tool for the job, and when a professional developer’s help is needed, is the level of interoperability that any given vendor has enabled in their platform, Rosen says. “Do they really just want you to bring all your data and logic to their platform, or are they allowing you to build apps that cross over multiple platforms?” she says. “That’s an important feature that customers can look for.”

The cost of keeping up

Should CIOs not yet all-in on the trend budget their software development tool spend to keep pace with IDC’s growth forecasts? “It’s not something where they need to make a major investment,” says Rosen. Setting up a CoE and making reusable software components available are affordable steps for most enterprises, she says. “Generally speaking, it’s not expensive to get started,” she adds. “What’s expensive is scale.”

Rather than worrying about whether their software spending is keeping pace with that of their competitors, Rosen advises CIOs to ask themselves, “What features are we not offering that we might be able to offer using low code, and that will be impactful for the business?” That approach could lead to cost savings since reusing componentized interfaces may mean a reduced need to hire expensive, expert programmers to build each application from scratch.

One key indicator on budgeting would be to weigh the cost per user for low-code platform licenses against the cost of hiring additional staff, Rosen says. For now, the difficulty of finding highly experienced professional developers is tilting that balance in favor of enabling line-of-business staff with low-code tools. Lower down the expertise scale, the decision whether to hire or to reskill existing staff is less clear, she says. At this level, CIOs need to take other advantages of deploying low-code platforms into account: not just develop a new digital business product, but perhaps also empower employees or improve retention.

“Once you know what you’re going for, you can look at the platforms with a different perspective,” Rosen says.

CIO, Developer, Development Tools, No Code and Low Code, Software Development

At the recent IDC CIO Summit in Dubai  – themed Enabling the Digital Economy’s Leaders – the topic of talent attraction and retention was a key talking point for those at the event.

Finding and keeping tech talent has never been easy but as the world of work continues to evolve and organisations shift to hybrid work models, new challenges and opportunities present themselves. How can technology leaders leverage these shifts to enhance online and virtual experiences and strengthen competitiveness by developing people, talent, and skills?

At the summit, ITDMs discussed how the technology talent market has changed, pushing organisations to leverage innovative work models. Companies are examining how they can change themselves and their team structures to leverage the current situation and enhance productivity.

Marc Dowd, VP Research, CIO Advisory, IDC UK, says there have been a lot of concerns about skills shortages globally, particularly since the pandemic.

“One of the big influences was the fact everybody was working from home, they liked it, and they did not want to be back in the office. People now live in a world market, they can sell their skills to every place around the world… One of my clients lost 50 per cent of its IT team. At the moment, a lot of companies have projects that are running three and a half months behind because they can’t find the right staff. Some of them were hired by big tech companies, out of our region.”

Jason Roos, CIO at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), says it’s important to focus on attitude rather than skills when hiring.

“When KAUST was set up the whole idea was to be focused on high-tech applicable research. The whole culture is about entrepreneurship and innovation, and we have a group focused on innovation. When I recruit talent I look for attitude, and people that can work with others. Skills come second.  If they become toxic in your organisation, that’s the worst that can happen. I look for  people who want to be in the team and I give them the chance to fail. If they don’t fail they don’t try and technology is evolving. Skills only last for a short time, you need to learn all the time.”

Before coming to the Middle East, Roos was working in California.  He found at the time that if he wanted, for example, to test some drones, he had to deal with multiple municipalities and a lot of bureaucracy.  He says things in the tech sector in KSA are easier. “The red tape is much less and you can make this happen. When you bring new talent to this country they are excited, it’s all about motivation.”

According to the panellists at the summit, when they talk about the skills gap, organisations need to know where they stand now and what are the skills sets that are needed. If you know where you are heading, and you know the gap, you can close it, so the question is: Do IT departments need to hire people or change the way they work?

Mai Alowaish, Chief Data and Innovation Officer at Gulf Bank, says it’s beneficial to examine what resources you have internally and look to upskill where possible. 

“In the bank, we need a business analyst, for example. I do have my data scientist, but I need someone to understand. I can’t get them from outside because I need someone who understands the banking sector, so upskilling your internal talent makes a huge difference. One of the keys to being successful is having a good HR department, they know the people. So build the talent instead of looking for it, and make them stay.”

As discussed at IDC CIO Summit in Dubai, hiring and retaining talented profiles in technology has never been easy, but as the world of work continues to evolve and organizations shift to hybrid work models, new challenges and opportunities present themselves. How can technology leaders leverage these shifts to enhance online and virtual experiences and strengthen competitiveness by developing people, talent, and skills?

During the event, different ITDMs discussed how the technology talent market has changed and compelled organizations to leverage innovative work models. How organizations can change themselves and their team structures to leverage the current situation and enhance productivity? 

“There are a lot of concerns about the shortage of resources, cloud architects, it’s a global concern, how has this pandemic and post-pandemic changed the IT market? Marc Dowd, VP Research, CIO Advisory, IDC UK asked. “One of the big influences was the fact that people were working from home, they liked it, and they did not want to be back in the offices, in some regions people now are on a world market, they can sell their skills to every place around the world, for example, one of my clients lost 50 per cent of its IT team. At the moment, a lot of companies have projects that are running three and a half months behind because they can’t find the right staff because they are working for big tech companies, out of our region.”

This was one of the topics discussed for the 16th edition of the IDC CIO Middle East Summit, organized by IDC, this time with “Enabling the Digital Economy’s Leaders” as the main theme. How to deal with this shortage of talent, knowing the characteristics that make an organization attractive to candidates and the key factors to retain employees, was one of the topics of the event.

“When King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) was set up the whole idea was to be focused on high-tech applicable research, the whole culture is about entrepreneurship and innovation, and we have a group that was focused on innovation. When I recruit talent I look for attitude, and persons that can work with others, skills come second if they become toxic in your organisation, that’s the worst that can happen,” says Jason Roos, CIO at KAUST. “I look at people who want to be in the team and I give them the chance to fail, if they don’t fail they don’t try and technology is evolving, skills only last for a short time, you need to learn all the time.”

According to Roos, you need to guide your employees and Saudi Arabia is definitely a good country to be in contact with the tech sector. Before coming to the Middle East, the CIO of Kaust was working in California, there if for example, you want to test some drones, you have to deal with multiple municipalities, and everything needs to be approved, but in KSA is easier, “the red tape is much less and you can make this happen, when you bring new talents to this country they are excited, it’s all about motivation.” adds.

In the opinion of the panellist, when they talk about the skill gap, organizations need to know where they stand now and what are the skills set that are needed. If you know where you are heading, and you know the gap, you can close it, so the question is: Do IT departments need to hire people or change the way they work?

“On behalf of a Government entity, we assume the right skills are available on the market, but we need the ability to attract as a Government, even if we assume that maybe working from home is a skill that won’t help us if we operate the same way, we are going to need a dramatic change and it’s a very slow democratic process that can’t happen fast, so let’s start having a hybrid way,” explains Dr. Ammar H. Alhusaini, Acting Director General, Central Agency for Information Technology (Kuwait).

But on the other side, in the private sector, some companies face the problem that the skills that are needed don’t exist in the market, they are too new and people have the skills but they are not experts. “In the bank, we need a business analyst for example, I do have my data scientist, but I need someone to understand, I can’t get them from outside because I need someone who understands the bank sector, so upskilling your internal talent makes a huge difference. One of the keys to be successful is having a good HR department, they know the people, so build the talent instead of looking for it, and make them stay,” clarifies Mai Alowaish, Chief Data and Innovation Officer at Gulf Bank.