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CIO must go beyond IT

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As the business world changes to suit a new era of connected customers, the role of the Chief Information Officer has changed. PATRICK SHIELDS of Software AG explains that the challenge for CIOs today is to be able to extend their area of influence outside of just running IT processes.

In South Africa specifically, business decision makers are taking a serious look at the impact of digital on their organisations.

Patrick Shields, Chief Technology Officer Africa at Software AG explains that the challenge for CIOs today is to be able to extend their area of influence outside of just running IT processes and maintenance in a business, and shift their focus to incorporate the overseeing of innovation. “This doesn’t mean that the CIO’s original responsibilities are negated – making technology decisions and overseeing the administrative IT duties to ensure the effectiveness and efficiencies of IT infrastructure – the CIO now needs to also take on a leading role within the business to bring it into the digital era.” IT research and advisory,Gartner shows that this trend will continue to gain pace, indicating a fundamental shift in how businesses operate, and what part of the process a CIO role should fill.

However guiding a business into the digital era does not mean simply digitising processes. “Technology and the right tools can be used to transform a business, and even dictate the future of a company. From both a global and local perspective, there has been a fundamental shift in how businesses today need to operate to remain competitive.”

Software AG’s Digital Business Platform, the first one worldwide, allows companies to incorporate new digital capabilities, while seamlessly integrating with current operations, which will avoid disruption of the existing investment and backlog of any kind.

“This allows for the continued use of existing systems and infrastructure, which companies have already invested heavily in, as well as the capability to analyse these platforms, and strategise ways to enhance and extend them – while at the same time embracing new capabilities. Using the Digital Business Platform, these various systems are linked through a customisable integration layer which connects new and existing systems to a central point of monitoring and management.” This system is agile and operational in real time, allowing CIOs to quickly automate and manage certain business processes, implement new processes, extract valuable data insights and gain real-time operational visibility through simple, practical dashboards.

“A CIO who is able to focus on the two different development aspects of a business – both the business side and the innovation side – will be able to effectively ensure that a business is bi-modal,” says Shields. “This phrase, coined by Gartner, means that a business has both the rigor, uniformity and discipline required for efficient development and maintenance of core IT systems, as well as the quicker, more agile and adaptable capabilities required for innovation.”

Shields explains that to effectively implement these two elements at the same time, it is crucial for CIOs to organise their teams to manage these aspects in a well-balanced way. “The CIO’s organisational model will need to be designed to work for that specific company’s needs. For example, when it comes to suppliers and partners, some may settle on one or two primary vendors, while others may decide that a multi-sourcing approach – with a broader mix of vendors based on the application needs, will be the best solution. At the same time, some IT elements of a business may be run on premises, and some through the cloud. Some businesses require a CIO to oversee both elements of the business’ IT needs, while other split these roles between the CIO and, for example, a Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Digital Officer. These complexities, while challenging, also provide a lot more opportunity for a CIO to provide tangible value to the business.”

“When it comes to embracing new technologies and capabilities, in South Africa – as in any environment – you have early adopters, fast followers, and the slow to adopt,” Shields says. “These challenges are not unique to South Africa, however, challenges such as the availability of infrastructure and the required skills are major concerns. For this reason, it is critical to select vendors who are able to provide strong and capable support, as well as reliable strategic planning tools.” Shields goes on to say that the more complex the IT and business environment gets, the more businesses need suppliers to really partner with them – working together towards mutual success.

While the role of the CIO is far more complex today than ever before, the swiftly changing business environment means the role is also up for definition – an acute opportunity for CIOs to solidify their value. “It is crucial to understand how the CIO role can support the business mission – rather than just managing IT – playing a critical part in the business’ success,” he concludes.

* Patrick Shields, Chief Technology Officer Africa at Software AG.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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