Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)


INFORMATION by Stephen Ibaraki

Journal: NYC, Pennsylvania, Geneva, Brussels - CIO CITY, Amsterdam, Paris

Click here for the article in IT World:
10 Lessons From EU CIOs of the Year and CIO CITY Summit

I have spent the last several weeks between Vancouver and cities in the US and the European Union including: LA, New York, Pennsylvania, Geneva, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris.

I have a lot to share from my experiences and insights. I provided several posts on the ITU WSIS here in IT Manager and will soon share lessons from the CIO CITY Summit where I chaired the session with the winners of the EU CIOs of the year. I will also share (quoting directly) key success tips in the CIO CITY/CIONET 2015 Digital Leadership Report largely authored by Nils Olaya Fonstad and Frederic De Meyer. Nils is the research scientist, Europe and LATAM, MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR), Frederic is research director for CIONET International.

In this video captured at CIO CITY, I overview what all the EU CIOs of the year embodied. The winners are:

  • Public Sector: Piera Fasoli, CIO of Gruppo HERA, Italy and Paul Danneels, CIO of VDAB, Belgium;
  • Medium-sized enterprise: Jean-Luc Martino, CIO, Raiffeisen Banque, Luxemburg;
  • Large enterprise: Mattias Ulbrich, CIO, Audi AG.

"It is striking to notice how much more business impact these CIO's are having," said Frederic De Meyer, Program Director at CIONET International. "Virtually all of this year's candidates have put programs in place to get their ICT teams work closely with business people." Frederic further shared, "There have been lots of talks about the end of the CIO function. Behind the provocative nature of this statement, this is probably what is meant: technology is increasingly an embedded part of the business, not just merely a support or enabling function. A living proof of this is the increasing amount of CIO's and IT staff that are recruited from other parts of the organization, as well as the number of CIO's and IT staff that take responsibilities in other parts of the business. Proofs of point: one of the winners of last year's European CIO of the Year award has now become a CEO of one of Philips Healthcare's divisions, and José Manuel Inchausti, former CIO of MAPFRE, has recently been appointed CEO of the Iberia region of MAPFRE."

According to member of the award jury Nils Fonstad, Research Scientist at MIT Center for Information System Research,"This year's candidates for the award reveals that in the most successful firms, CIOs are sharing digital leadership responsibilities with other CxOs, collaborating tightly to build the digital capabilities necessary to be innovative and competitive". Nils added, "Digital disruption is what happens when business leaders do not develop key digital capabilities. Based on the experiences of the Finalists and research at MIT Sloan's Center for Information Systems Research, there are three critical capabilities that especially stand out and that all business leaders should be held accountable for developing. First, don't loose sight of digitized platform capabilities. These are long-term investments that are fundamental to agility. All 23 Finalists worked closely with their business colleagues to build digital platform capabilities that were essential to transform and improve how they operated and innovated. At Desigual, the CIO and his team converged the retail channel with the e-business channel and provided staff with access to real-time global inventory and to a tool for optimizing fulfilment costs optimization. Essentially, these platform capabilities enabled Desigual to convert its point of sales into distribution centres and provide customers with purchase options that better fit their lifestyle. More options for buying have translated into more sales and better customer experience. At ING Bank Śląski S.A (Poland), the IT Group saved 50% of operating costs and significant shortened the delivery process by developing and implementing a special private cloud model called 'Zero Touch' to fully automate the process of integrating and deploying applications, from beginning to end."

Nils goes on to provide added examples. "IT leaders in companies with "spaghetti" platforms (i.e., disorderly collection of technologies, digitized processes, and data) are under even greater pressure to respond quickly to business opportunities and threats rather than to build platforms. The easy availability of digital technologies can aggravate the inclination to address immediate needs with short-term solutions. Transforming an organization's digitized platform into a set of competitive platform capabilities requires significant organizational surgery, which brings us to the second key capability. Second, business leaders must become digital leaders. The experiences of the Finalists clearly indicate that demand for digital leadership is growing and cannot be met by a single CIO; organizations need multiple digital leaders to turn the disruptive potential of digital technologies into competitive advantages. Digital is not just IT. Digital is now the whole business. As an organization's strategy becomes more digital, it is imperative that marketing, operations, and IT work tightly together. Defining and realizing an organizationís digital strategy involves different areas of expertise, understanding how they relate to each other, and orchestrating their interdependencies. Third, with strong digitized platform capabilities and with shared and tightly coordinated digital leadership, organizations are distributing innovation, providing teams who are in direct contact with customers, partners and other external parties, with significantly more autonomy and power to innovate. Over the last 6.5 years, experienced tremendous growth and the IT Group blossomed from 50 to 750 employees. To accomplish this growth, the IT Group built platform capabilities and introduced sufficient governance to enable over 100 agile development and production teams to build and extend the technology stack and product portfolio by means of AB testing Ė essential for development team to rapidly test hypotheses with customers and learn from their results. At Club Med, the IT Group developed a modular digitized platform that protects the core processes and keeps control of key data, hence providing the employees with a minimum set of rules. Now, instead of fighting shadow IT, he encourages business teams to experiment and innovate with new, external tools and partners."

In Conclusion:

I very much enjoyed participating at CIO CITY. I am invited to many international conferences, forums and summits each year and since the 1980s'. CIO CITY is definitely THE top-ranking and rewarding summit. I can see the work that went into its careful planning with action on feedback to make the event compelling to the delegates.

Earlier, I had a long discussion with the founder of CIONET, Hendrik Deckers. CIONET is the largest community of IT executives in Europe with reach into Asia, South America and now North America. Bringing together more than 5000 CIOs, CTOs and IT directors from wide-ranging sectors, cultures, academic backgrounds and generations, CIONET's membership represents an impressive body of expertise in IT management. CIONETís mission is to feed and develop that expertise by providing top-level IT executives with the resources they need to realise their full potential.

More information about CIONET can be found at

Click here for: Chat with Frits Bussemaker, CIONET Partner, Founding Top Global Leader