Why it's getting harder and harder for the IT director

By Brendan O’Rourke: CIO, Telefónica UK

The recent announcement that Jamie Miller, former GE CIO and current president and CEO of GE Transportation, is planning on setting up a digital solutions business at GE Transportation’s Chicago headquarters is, I think, good evidence of the evolving – and increasingly complex – role of the modern IT director.

In her two-year tenure as CIO, she displayed forward-thinking and digital business intuition by migrating to cloud applications and infrastructure. And she clearly plans to put the lessons learnt in this role to good use.

In the article, she discusses the key role digital skills plays: “The demand for the digital skillset is as high as it’s ever been, and I think as we really look to grow talent to run any element of the business over the next few decades, digital is going to be a critical asset and skillset for anybody.”

Growing expectations facing IT directors

This story is a good example of where a CIO has both the resources and the mandate to proactively develop the digital capabilities of their organisation. But a more common story is that of the IT director who is struggling to balance the growing expectations of the business with the responsibility to meet the needs of individual staff.

From what I see, IT directors across all sectors face mounting challenges, namely:

  • Simplifying the infrastructure to find savings and unlock opportunity
  • Mobilising their organisations to triumph in the digital age
  • Giving customers a truly integrated experience across all platforms
  • Leading rather than following, as consumers continue to set the pace
  • Responding to changing internal structures, needs and roles
  • Using cloud technology to drive savings, improve processes and increase control
  • Making and keeping their organisations’ data and communications secure
  • Opening up IT to drive true mobilisation

And last, but certainly not least, is addressing the needs of their organisations’ people to work where, when and how they need to. Just as the lines between home and office, and between work and life, are blurring with the widespread adoption of always-on mobile technology, so are the lines between conventional IT and HR roles. IT directors are under pressure to deliver improved productivity and cost savings, while at the same time do their bit to ensure that staff are motivated, inspired and working collaboratively, and that this results in improved customer satisfaction. It’s a hard ask. But the same technological evolutions that are behind the growing expectations and challenges facing CIOs, CTOs and IT directors might also have the answers.

Taking a people-first approach to IT delivery

‘Mobile first’ has become a well-worn buzzword, but coming from a company with 30 years’ experience in delivering mobile-centric solutions, we tend to disagree with it. We think that mobile shouldn’t be a separate part of an organisation’s IT strategy. It’s implicit. That’s why we think it’s not mobile first. It’s people first.

One of the ways we’re looking to help IT directors deliver on their growing expectations is through bringing together our enterprise-class fixed, mobile and wifi networks into a single integrated platform called O2 Gateway, which is entirely managed by us. It gives them just one commercial agreement and an end-to-end SLA.

We also connect customer sites together via a range of access methods and topologies, with secure, guaranteed, dedicated capacity. Such unified communications give our customers converged access to a growing range of capabilities, including voice and cloud services and hosted applications like Microsoft Skype for Business or Mitel’s MiCloud.

Ultimately, we’re making sure your employees, customers and partners can communicate in the way they want, when they want, using their preferred channel and device. In addressing your challenges, it’s a valuable first step to take.

If you would like to know more about how we’re working with IT directors across all industries, then please visit our website.