Allan01Big data, analytics, security and innovation in the digital age were some of the hot topics at CIO Summit 2015 in Auckland where ClearPoint recently exhibited. But the biggest buzz was around the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and SKA (Square Kilometre Array) Alliance presentations. Both talked about how space research will expand our understanding of the universe and drive technological development worldwide. We were so fascinated by the SKA Alliance radio telescope project that we’ve invited Dr Andrew Ensor of the NZ SKA Alliance to be a guest speaker at our next ClearPoint Tech Drop, which we’ll blog about later. Stay tuned for more insights from the ‘next frontier.’

Back on earth at the CIO Summit, ‘Business Transformation’ was the recurring catch phrase in many speeches. It shows the increasing role of technology as the driver for transformational change within business. Confronted with disruptive technologies, businesses recognise the need to change and are looking to IT as an enabler for innovation.

Peter Muggleston, CIO at Foodstuffs North Island and CIO of the Year 2015 Award Winner, talked about the critical role strategic IT played in transforming the 90-year old retail grocery business. Foodstuffs North Island recently completed a highly complex, $150 m+ transformation programme that involved upgrading infrastructure and consolidating systems and networks across three separate cooperatives and hundreds of retail stores to create a “One Foodstuffs” way of working across the organization. The result is a new retail platform that provides a foundation to support future growth and innovation. Key to the programme’s success was executive leadership and commitment across the entire business that ensured the IT solutions were aligned with the business goals. This alignment even extended to top executives at technology partner SAP in Germany.

A similar scenario played out at electricity provider Marlbourough Lines. ICT Manager Amanda White was tasked with driving transformational change through technology. She realised that the proposed technology improvements would only be adopted if they were seen as business drivers by management. The project was broken down to show clearly that it would bring about positive change in line with the overall strategy of the business.

“ICT is an enabler. Business needs to know where it’s going and then ICT can provide options,” said White. “You can’t just add good technology to a business without strategy and vision. They all need to be aligned.”

Aligning technology with business strategy is common sense for ClearPoint. It’s the foundation of how we operate with our clients and it ensures that the work we do delivers true value and supports the business goals. We’re vendor independent and technology agnostic, so although we are fully cognisant of the technology, our main focus is the desired business outcomes. Coupled with this is strong collaboration with the client throughout the lifecycle of the engagement.

As one client said, “ClearPoint listened to us and responded with creative, forward-thinking, right-sized solutions.”

We’ve always believed strongly that strategic leadership and collaboration at the executive level are critical for the success of any IT project. This should extend to the relationship with technology partners as well, as it did with Foodstuffs North Island and SAP. This belief is the reason we support and recognise the achievements of executive teams that do it well by sponsoring the CIO Award for Executive Team of the Year (for Strategic Use of Business Technology). Congratulations again to this year’s winning team, Foodstuffs South Island, for a stellar job rolling out their loyalty card and CRM system!

Technology will continue to drive business transformation as businesses struggle to keep pace in a world of accelerated change. It’s companies like Foodstuffs who have the strategic leadership and vision to see IT as an enabler for business innovation that will see their businesses continue for another 90 years.