Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

A Lot of Disruption in the Happiest Place: Australia's CIOs Speak

Where are CIOs and technology leaders most satisfied, most happy? In Australia, according to the Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2015 results. That fact was top of mind for me as I headed to the October 15 launch of the survey in Sydney, Australia and got ready to share industry data with 150+ local senior IT leaders and hear from a panel of brilliant IT executives. I am going to get to speak to and hear from some very positive and optimistic professionals. For a globe-trotting New Yorker, that is not an everyday event. 

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Sydney CIO Survey Launch Panelists from left to right: Guy Holland, Partner-KPMG; Richard Burns, General Manager, Customer Experience & Technology - Aussie Home Loans: Katherine Squire, General Manager, Application Development-ASX: Mark Cohen, CTO - Domain Group; and moderator Albert Ellis, CEO - Harvey Nash

So how do the world's happiest and most satisfied CIOs feel about the IT marketplace and their jobs today? According to the CIO survey numbers and executives on the panel and in the room, IT leaders are feeling the pressure of digital disruption. The CIO Survey found 56 percent of CIOs in Australia believe their businesses are currently being disrupted by digital compared to 35 percent of CIOs globally. The CIOs who joined our panel supported those findings with insights of how their own businesses and teams are having to bring new models and services faster than ever in order to stay ahead.

Disrupt or Die--Kodak versus Uber
As the cartoonist for the event captured so vividly, death by disruption is on the minds of IT leaders everywhere. Kodak (see its grave in the cartoon below) is famous for being the anti-Uber in business lore today. At the CIO event, our panel discussed the famous vote in which Kodak's Board of Directors elected NOT to go into the digital world of picture making. They decided to remain in print and rapid decline, bankruptcy and delisting from the New York Stock Exchange ensued.


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And while Kodak was the CIO event's case study in poor decision making, Uber was king when it came to demonstrating the incredible reach that innovative and aggressive digital disruption can have. It was clear that Australia's CIOs are keen to follow Uber's lead, seeking out opportunities to disrupt the market rather than be disrupted. From seeking out new technologies to bringing in the right skills and leadership, the CIOs and tech leaders in Sydney are working hard to be on the right side of disruption. In fact, 33 percent of businesses in Australia have a CDO (Chief Digital Officer) compared to just 17 percent globally, demonstrating a widespread commitment to digital innovation. The CIO Survey's documentation of the rise of the CDO, and subsequent decline of the CMO, was cleverly compared to Game of Thrones by Andrew Birmingham of Which-50, the Sydney-based digital intelligence business publisher. It's a bold way to describe what can feel like a seismic shift in power and one of the many reasons IT leaders see "disrupt or die" as their new reality.  

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Author Anna Frazzetto (center) and Harvey Nash Australia Managing Director, Bridget Gray (second from left) are joined by CIO panelists and moderator Albert Ellis

Skill Shortages Persist--Everywhere
As with every country I have visited, the IT skills shortage remains a big challenge. In Australia, the skills shortage is slightly less acute than it is globally. Fifty-two percent of Australia's CIOs report skills shortages within their organizations compared to 59 percent globally. Many Australian businesses, according to the panel, have embraced outsourcing and it has helped narrow the country's talent gap. Despite that slight skills advantage, the audience and the panel in Sydney agreed that the talent shortage is a challenging and critical issue. Many IT leaders I spoke to after the event underscored the fact that businesses need to take a driving role in expanding tech-based education and training programs in order to help build a stronger IT workforce across Australia.

Security Threats--A Destructive Distraction
At the event, I saw that security is also an issue weighing heavy on the minds of Australia's CIOs. The survey showed that businesses in Australia do not face a statistically greater IT security threat than they do around the world: 27 percent of CIOs have faced a major IT security attack in the last year, similar to the global average of 25 percent. Despite that, it was a topic of concern for the panel and the attendees. It was discussed as a hindrance to progress and an issue CIOs know they have to address but wish they didn't have to invest so much time in. Like disruption and the skills shortage, it's another challenge Australia's CIOs want to address with innovation.  

By the end of the event, we had covered the challenges highlighted by the CIO survey and the room of leaders was focused on sharing ideas on how to harness disruption and how to grow the workforce by increasing diversity and opportunities for women. Each of the challenges seemed to become opportunities as Australia, the happiest place for CIOs in the world, again showed me why it's so good to always try and see the other side of the coin. Or, in this case, the other side of the world.

To request your own copy of the CIO Survey and its many fascinating findings, go to

Anna Frazzetto
SVP & Managing Director
International Technology Solutions
Harvey Nash plc

Bridget Gray
Managing Director
Harvey Nash plc