... and into the boardroom
THE DAYS OF THE IT department being tucked away in the basement are finally over. That’s the contention of Jason Goodall, MD of Dimension Data Middle East and Africa. Speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business Science ( GIBS) ‘Building Business with ICT’ conference, Goodall advanced the case that IT has to be integral to business strategy for those companies which will succeed and prosper in a continually changing economic environment. And these companies of the future will be run by CEOs and CIOs; the stranglehold the CFO currently wields over costs will take something of a back seat.
“In today’s economic climate, companies face a high road and a low road. One means domination, the other means going out of business completely,” says Goodall, noting that the manner in which ICT is handled within the organisation will have a material effect on which road is taken.
It is for just this reason that GIBS is advancing the integration of ICT and business strategy, notes Ian James, programme director for the Vodacom Information and Communication Technology Programme at the business school. “ The business leaders of tomorrow cannot go without in-depth, strategic ICT knowledge,” he contends.
Continuing, Goodall says there are two ways of looking at how ICT value is determined. Simplistically, it is the value of the equipment and processes. The second view looks at how ICT adds value to the business. “Unless ICT is creating business value, it has no purpose. The glue is how to link ICT to business priorities; for example, product development, innovation or improved performance. It is up to the ICT industry to bridge the gap between merely having ICT assets and applying them to drive growth and performance.”
Taking a step back to look at how the industry is preparing itself for a changed perception of ICT, Goodall says there are obvious clues in the massive industry consolidation which has taken place in the last five years. “Hardware vendors are creating services arms; networking companies are moving into the data centre and software companies are integrating their offerings into the hardware layer. This is indicative of the industry’s work to bridge that gap between IT assets and the value that they can create in the businesses of the users.”
A peek into history reveals a changing continuum: in the 1970s, CIOs didn’t exist and IT was a business support mechanism falling within the facilities management domain. “It made no difference in what business the IT
Visiting Professor at GIBS, Vodacom ICT Programme; Chairman, Vodacom Foundation; and