CIO Directory 2017

The CIO Directory has been running for eight years now, and having been involved with it since inception, I found it a little tricky to know what to write in this introductory note that we haven’t covered in previous years. So to hone in on that point, what differentiates or characterises the 2017 edition from those that have come before?

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I think there are two significant aspects. The first is the picture we build (painted through the profiles) of the local landscape where technology and business intersect. This has evolved from last year and the year before, and will evolve further next year, and the year after that. We’ve also added a section to the profiles asking CIOs to describe how technology is evolving their vertical or organisations. The second piece of the puzzle is the wider economic landscape in which we find ourselves.

Some of the trends CIOs face seem to be continual bugbears, such as the alignment of IT with business. Then there are more specific technology concerns such as analytics, IoT, mobility and security. While much of the high-level technology considerations remain the same as in previous years, there are pockets with more ‘on-trend’ technologies being investigated and adopted, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.

The broader theme of ‘digital transformation’ (or digitalisation) is one that’s increasingly gathering momentum this year, and rightly so because it encompasses many of the different elements that go into making up a company’s unique technology recipe. These are key to differentiating a company’s offerings and improving efficiency and agility. The digitalisation strategy and CIO roles are both at an inflection point, does the CIO grab the digital opportunity with both hands and transform themselves to holding one of the top strategic positions within the organisation, or do they focus on providing the backroom tech and let the business dictate the direction?

The other issue that will become increasingly important to South African CIOs is the local economy and specifically the impact of the ‘subinvestment grade’ credit rating – or junk status – which was triggered in March, and is set to have far-reaching and long-lasting implications. The risk-averse pessimist would halt spending on ‘frivolous’ new technology and probably focus on just keeping the lights on, while the optimistic technology evangelist would preach that this economic climate is even more incentive to invest in digitally transforming the business to ensure survival by improved competitiveness. The likely reality is that the organisation that has already started moving to the cloud will be more capable of weathering the economic storms faced as we head into 2018 and beyond.

My final comment is a note of thanks and recognition to the team that has worked tirelessly on making this publication a reality, particularly Norma, Sibongile, Simon and Sindiso. Indeed, there are many other people to recognise, from the writers who work with the CIOs to get the profiles prepared, to our sales team who reach out to the ICT industry to support this initiative, and the production team who give the book the quality we’ve grown so proud of. Thank you all.

I hope you, our reader, find this publication insightful and interesting.

Happy reading!

Adrian Hinchcliffe

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