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CIO Event Manchester - 5 key things we learnt

Over one hundred technology leaders gathered at the stunning new KPMG offices in Manchester last week for the launch of the 2015 Harvey Nash CIO survey.

Kicking the evening off, Non-Executive Chairman of Harvey Nash - Dr Jonathan Mitchell - talked us through the main thrust of the findings which continue to focus on the challenge most CIO's face around skills, security, the role of the CIO and the emerging CDO. The acceleration towards a 'digital first' business model causing positive challenge in businesses of all sectors and size.

Following a short presentation by Lisa Henegan ,Head of EMEA CIO Advisory of KPMG UK, who interepreted some of the findings there was a sparky panel debate which really tackled some of the big issues, our own Natalie Whittlesey facilitating the lively discussion.

Some of the key insights that we took from the panel were: -

If a CDO has emerged in your business, you're not doing your job right. The relationships a CIO forges across the business dictates whether a business does or does not perceive the need for a CDO. Strong views were given by Adam Gerrard of Yodel and Graham Benson of Rentalcars.com. Get commercial was the key recommendation. Our survey indicates that 18% of UK CIO's report that a CDO is already present in their organisation and the relationship is working well.

Get over the idea of disruption, just adapt. Change has been around the I.T. space for the last twenty years, it's just simply the pace has increased. Get busy outsourcing commoditised services and get moving with value added solutions aligned to the business results. 43% of our UK CIO's surveyed expected to increase the amount they outsource in the year ahead.

More women please. Despite the continued effort in the area, the number of females in the sector continues to be low. Initiatives need to start from the ground up, engaging with schools, inspiring young women to want a job in the space and apprenticeships. Scott Fletcher MBE of ANS Group PLC, gave examples from his own business and from his work with the Local Enterprise Partnership. Our figures show no movement in CTO level female roles however the overall total female percentage as a proportion of the entire workforce increased by one percent.

Big data needs some big effort. Business analytics continues as a strong theme amongst the community however obtaining the right skills is a big problem. This function came out top in terms of the number one thing holding back CIO's keeping pace with change. Commercially driven analytical outcomes which can transform tactics or strategy were identified as being of highest value.

The DNA of a High Performing CIO is emerging. A digitally focused, money making, relationship driven individual in a CIO role is outperforming the traditional model. Showing a big swing (-7.1% vs. the previous year), 'increasing operational efficiency' still remains a high priority in the business however customer engagement has emerged as the major swing in priority.

Bringing the panel discussion to an end, Lisa Heneghan, highlighted the four key things that unite a successful strategy: -

1. A clearly articulated digital strategy.
2. An impassioned and committed CEO driving from the top.
3. An innovative and flexible culture, working in an agile manner to deliver things quickly.
4. A digitially proficient workforce, upskilled for the present demands.

Following the discussion, some high quality networking took place amongst our guests. One of the most valuable parts of the evening is the ability for contacts to re-connect, talk through some of the issues before re-grouping to tackle the key lessons learned.

Big thanks to our 2015 CIO Panel

Kaveh Poureymour, CIO, Seadrill
Simon Meredith, CIO, UK and Ireland, IBM
Adam Gerrard, CIO, Yodel
Scott Fletcher, Founder and Chairman, ANS Group PLC
Graham Benson, CIO, Rentalcars.com

Blog by:
Georgina Jones,
Project Management Consultant,
Georgina.Jones@HarveyNash.com