With the year drawing to a close, two industry experts tell Intelligent CIO what the CIO’s priority is for 2019.
Submission from Craig Freer, Executive Head: Cloud at Vox.
Despite prevalent economic challenges, the IDC says that IT spending by organisations in South Africa has grown at a faster rate than GDP over the past year, with cloud computing and services driving a large part of this. Research from the company shows that cloud is expected to grow by over 20% annually to reach R11.5 billion by 2022.
While more companies want to move their workloads to the cloud, they are not fully aware of the intricacies and challenges. To mitigate potential risks, CIOs need to break their current IT infrastructure down to a granular level to gain an understanding of the business requirements and to look at the value that IT delivers to the business. They must obtain a view of what technologies are in place, including a full view of the IT ecosystem and all its dependencies.
This information can then be used to produce a total cost of ownership comparison to demonstrate the gains that can be made by making the shift to cloud computing, as a cloud architecture blueprint and implementation roadmap that brings together a public, private and/or hybrid cloud solution for the business.
Although many companies are adopting a cloud strategy, the majority see this as a phased approach, not a short-term goal. This means a continued reliance on on-site computing as their cloud strategy evolves. Added to this is the current ICT skills shortage in South Africa and as a result, more companies are turning to managed services as a business model.
This brings us to the essence of cloud, which is not necessarily the platform but the managed services and applications that are enabled and made available to companies in order to optimise their businesses and the resources that they have access to.
Businesses need to undergo a fundamental skills and mindset change and IT departments under the leadership of the CIO need to move away from a ´break and fix´ approach to being more SLA orientated. Investing in skills that focus less on hardware and more on software will become a necessity, or CIOs can consider shifting to vendors that offer not only a cloud solution, but also a managed services layer.
CIOs will increasingly need to think about if their organisations will own the skills the organisation requires to operate in the cloud, or if there is a vendor relationship management model required. In each instance, it will require a skills change across the IT department. The CIO will need to find a partner that not only understands how to translate a cloud strategy into business reality, but also the requirements and skills for cloud transition.
The reality is that the market is moving to cloud – with a clear split between private and public. A more hybrid approach is on the cards, as the needs of the organisation change, and depending on what cloud is utilised for. Less critical applications and tools will likely remain in the public cloud, while solutions and services that differentiate the organisation’s value proposition or means of doing business, will move to private cloud.
A conservative estimate is that 30% of businesses will retain onsite infrastructure, which will drive other hybrid computing models. As more managed services become available, so many organisations may move away from extensive IT resources and will look for ways to get better value.
Ten years ago, all we needed from our CIO was email and basic database and CRM management tools. Today, our entire business is heavily reliant on our internal IT systems. The CIO of 2019 knows exactly what the company’s plans are and can highlight potential risks and inform the rest of the C-Suite of what changes are possible or not with the systems the business currently has.
CIOs should not be viewed as barriers to progress, but rather as integral parts of the business. When a new product, service or division is launched, or the company wants to make a change to any sales or operations technical strategy, the CIO should by default be a part of the process to mitigate the risk to systems.
If more companies embrace a culture of openness among the C-Suite they will likely find that their CIO is potentially an enabler – and not an inhibitor – in driving the business forward. More critical though, is for the CIO to have a vision of what the business needs and how cloud can future proof the business.
Submission from Niral Patel, MD and Technology Leader for Oracle South Africa.
The time is now for local businesses to turn to autonomous technology to lower cost, improve efficiency and be more competitive – all key business fundamentals.
According to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey, the role of the CIO in Europe, the Middle East and Africa is changing. CIOs in this region are spending more time focused on business leadership and becoming more open minded, showing a greater capacity for change. In South Africa, there is a new appreciation for business leadership and a clear understanding that it is critical to drive collective action.
To keep pace, the most forward-looking CIOs will need to capitalise on autonomous services.
What are autonomous services?
Today, autonomous represents a new category of cloud services; empowering businesses to lower costs, reduce risk, go beyond predictive insights to suggested action and steer innovation into the fast lane. Offering unprecedented levels of simplicity, self-service and security, through being self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing, autonomous cloud services are setting a new industry standard for IT.
The resulting ‘autonomous enterprise’ won’t need people to run, maintain, integrate, develop and secure its core IT systems. Instead, AI and automation will work together to manage everything from database to application development and provide actionable insight around business processes, all without human input.
Closing the skills gap
Keeping our region’s youthful population in mind and the need to create jobs, businesses should do their part to skill the workforce for the world of tomorrow. At Oracle, we prepare young South Africans for employment in the ICT sector through our Oracle Graduate Leadership Programme that equips them with specialised IT and leadership skills. To date, 84 students have successfully completed the programme since its inception in 2014.
Looking at it from a people perspective, companies must ensure their employees are ready for an autonomous cloud technology-driven environment and are able to capitalise on its benefits.
Re-training existing members of staff is critical. There are a range of options to help organisations upskill their IT teams through training; from government programmes through to vendor academies, such as the Oracle Academy. The latter are useful for providing both the technical skillset required and the necessary security and compliance training.
CIOs don’t just want to save costs – they want to move faster and smarter to take the business in more exciting directions than ever before. Autonomous will be key to fulfilling those aims. Accenture, for example, needed a better way to manage its largescale professional services workforce. Trialling an autonomous cloud solution against its key, data-intensive HR application, the company can get quicker and more personalised analytics to make smarter, faster workforce decisions.
Similarly, Hertz has used an autonomous cloud solution to remove the pain of administration and focus on delivering faster projects. Instead of setting up and tuning a server and database, the team can invest its man hours in innovation – delivering the right products to market, and customers, with more speed.
Build security resilience
By 2022, Gartner predicts that a company’s cybersecurity rating will become as important as its credit rating to customers, suppliers and partners. Yet, security attacks and breaches are increasing, and humans can’t keep up. In fact, Gartner previously predicted that 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.
With AI and automation, businesses can automate the detection, prevention and response to security breaches, performance anomalies and vulnerabilities. Only by using machines to fight machines can companies reprioritise and rethink about how they defend their information.
Autonomous services are precisely the kind of technology that forward-looking CIOs in South Africa should strive to adopt. The power of autonomous services, capable of self-patching, self-tuning and automatically optimising performance while running, is just the start. It won’t be long before autonomous cloud services bring simplicity, self-service and security into all areas of the business, providing new fuel for innovation. Some organisations are ready. What about you?